Ballinasloe Falter at Final Hurdle Ballinasloe 13 lost to Buccaneers 24

Ballinasloe finished the 2011/12 league season in third spot, seven competition points adrift of Sunday rivals Buccaneers.

On the balance of table standings, the 24-13 fixture result followed followed league form but a Ballinasloe win was never beyond them.

For starters both Buccaneers and Ballinasloe won 11 games apiece, and Sunday’s result determined who would challenge Corinthians for J1A entry next winter.

Ballinasloe opened their account in September with six from six including a tightly-contested 9-8 win over Ballinrobe, and came unstuck against – you guessed it – Buccaneers, 27-6 in Athlone. Buccaneers by comparison lost their first (Loughrea), lost their third (Creggs) and lost their eighth (by a point to Ballinrobe). In Buccaneers favour, or rather to their credit, they secured 11 bonus points from a season which availed them 14 fixtures, three more than the next best – league winners Loughrea. This penchant for scoring tries and squeezing deficits made Buccaneers a dangerous beast to bait throughout, no moreso on Sunday.

Ballinasloe too commenced Sunday’s encounter needing no additional incentive.

A partially-charged Ballinasloe clearance gifted Gary Duffy a crack at the goal-line, which he took with no objection, and Terry Hynes claimed another two converting. Not to be outdone, Ballinasloe’s Robert O’Beirne closed the gap to four within minutes courtesy of a well-struck penalty on the 20minute mark.

Buccaneers upped the tempo and, reluctant to part with possession, forced Ballinasloe to make tackles for prolonged periods. While staunch Ballinasloe defence held up one scoring opportunity, quick ball and slick hands allowed Brian Walsh to cross for a five-pointer. It wasn’t all plain-sailing for Buccaneers however, hooker Stapleton spent the last six minutes of the first half in the bin for player obstruction, and Ballinasloe moved to six, 11 points in arrears.

Again, the yellow peril struck although Ballinasloe wore its wrath this time Aiden Doorley the transgressor early in the second half.

Buccaneers locked up the victory with 25minutes to go, Alex Hyman scooting off the scrum win for a 22m dash to the line. Ballinasloe grabbed a consolation at the death, arguably the try of the day involving several pairs of hands and a flying Darragh Burke.

Ballinasloe squad: D.Burke, C.Brophy, R.Keller, C.Johnston, L.Feerick, R.O’Beirn, F.Sweeney, J.J.Carey, A.O’Hara(capt), T.Dolan, M.Harrigan, H.Reynolds, K.Headd, A.Doorley. Replacements: E.Courtney, A.Wade, D.Fenton, R.Sheppard,C.Loughrey

(contributed – Liam Courtney)

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