Ballinasloe responded in the best way possible to their first round Junior1A league defeat to Buccaneers with an emphatic win over last season’s league winners,Connemara, at Graigueawoneen on Sunday. Both teams were short some regulars but the injury list at Ballinasloe is long and extending at the moment.It certainly would have the M.A.S.H. medical outfit working overtime. The local management had alot of cutting and pasting to do in advance of proceedings with up to ten would-be first team players unavailable. The side that eventually took the field came up trumps in fine style and it looks as if there will be keen competition for places when the walking wounded return.
The locals were on the offensive from the kick-off, giving their guests little time to settle, while running the ball back with profit from kicked clearances. Little surprise then when they went ahead in the sixth minute following a forwards’ drive, tight head prop Tommy Dolan touched down for the opening try with Kealin O’Neill converting.
Minutes later and that injury spectre came-a-visiting the home side again. Flanker, Dylan Connolly, went over on his left ankle following a lineout and after attention on the pitch was forced to depart the scene. It was most unfortunate for the young player who had made a strong start to the season.
Ballinasloe re-grouped with Der Tierney coming off the bench as a replacement. Their forwards continued to dominate and a huge driving maul from a lineout on the visitors 22 afforded Dolan the opportunity to touch down for his second try of the afternoon which went unconverted. Connemara knew they had a fight on their hands and brought some composure to their play. They began to put the ball through the hands as they so often do with great alacrity and in the twenty third minute Dave McDonagh took advantage of a gap in the hosts defence to score a try with Ian Heanue adding the conversion.
Ballinasloe responded in positive style and a searing run by Eoin McCormack ended with John Hayes being on his shoulder to receive a pop pass and beat two tackles before touching down for try number three for the home side. O’Neill converted with Ballinasloe showing great appetite for the fray and in control as half time approached. They bagged their fourth try and the bonus point that went with it before the break when the visitors were penalised for deliberately collapsing yet another menacing maul. O’Neill converted the resultant penalty try to leave the hosts 26pts to 7 ahead as the half time whistle sounded.
At nineteen points in arrears the game was as good as over. The visitors were not playing with their usual fluency but credit the home side for not allowing them to put their stamp on the match. The local pack beavered with profit and with their solid scrum giving them a deacent platform they had the winners enclosure in sight from a long way out. If Connemara stood any chance of making a comeback then they needed to strike early on the turnover but it was the locals who stretched their lead in the fifty second minute when O’Neill kicked a forty metre penalty awarded for off side.
Ballinasloe were reduced to fourteen men when full back, Eoin McCormack, was deemed to have deliberately knocked on and spent ten minutes in the sin bin. The visitors took advantage of the numerical situation and with Peter O’Toole prompting diligently from the no.15 position they went in search of a consolation score. It duly arrived when prop, Eugene Conroy, aided by his pack, made it over for a try with the conversion flashing wide of the posts. Their come back was brief when in the 68th minute Der Tierney broke from the back of a scrum to charge twenty metres for Ballinasloe’s fifth try and with O’Neill adding the extras it was game, set and match to the locals.
Play did open up in the final ten minutes but it was only of academic interest at that stage. Ballinasloe will be well pleased with their day’s labour and with a break now to their next encounter will be hoping to have some key personnel back in harness. For Connemara, they will have much better days and make no mistake about it.
BALLINASLOE: E.McCormack, S.Parker, Conor Loughrey, R.Cullinan, S.Tierney, K.O’Neill, S.Horan, J.J.Carey, G.Donnellan, T.Dolan, K.Headd (capt.), N.Staunton, B.Coughlan, J.Hayes, D.Connolly. Replacements: (all used) J.Curley, D.Tierney, R.Sheppard, R.Hynes.
CONNEMARA: P.O’Toole, D.Little, P.Madden, D.McDonagh, B.O’Toole, I.Heanue, E.Burke, E.Conroy, A.Price, A.Birchmore, D.Reilly, J.Shannon, C.O’Malley, B.Gibbons, C.Keane. Replacements: (used) R.Hogan, D.McHugh, D.Heanue.
In under-age friendlies Ballinasloe recorded wins when the U18s defeated Tullamore 17-15 and the U15s ran out easy winners against Nenagh.

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