BALLINASLOE 27—GALWEIGANS 35    

Ballinasloe made a rather tame exit from the Connacht Junior Plate competition in a high scoring game, on home territory, last Sunday. The visitors were the hungrier and more focused side looking to finish their season with a flourish while the hosts lacked any real urgency for the most part while their heroics of a fortnight ago against Monivea were nowhere to be found. Apart from a concerted effort in the middle of the second half when they tried valiantly to rescue the game, they played second fiddle to an eager and business like Galweigans side.

Right from the kick off the city outfit were like whippets exiting the traps and moved on to the offensive immediately. The tacky surface, on a pitch that bore all the hallmarks of a hard Winter, proved to be no friend to the visitors when on two occasions in the opening minutes a player slipped at a critical moment when a try scoring opportunity appeared to be definitely on. Neither did they allow an easy enough penalty miss in the fifth minute to deter them. They went ahead in the tenth minute when they moved the ball wide from a scrum for David Symes to touch down with Ross Shaughnessy adding the conversion. Continuing to make the right decisions they doubled their score five minutes later when Rory Hogan went in for a try and Shaughnessy added his second conversion.

Ballinasloe did eventually get their act together to play their way into enemy territory. With Robbie Wakefield proving to be an effective target at lineout time the locals mauled their way over for a try from one of his takes for their opening score, cradited to Kevin Gavin, with the conversion being missed. ‘Weigans responded positively and Gearoid Armstrong ran in their third try with Michael O’Hare kicking the conversion, being on the pitch as a blood substitute for Shaughnessy. The visitors were now 21-5 ahead but credit to Ballinasloe, despite their apparent lethargy at times, they never gave up the ghost and their well organised pack drove over for two tries before the tea break with Wakefield and Gavin taking the scoring honours and no extras being added. 21-15 then at the interval for visitors who made most of the running in that opening period yet the locals remained in the hunt, a situation  that seemed unlikely after the opening fifteen minutes.

Galweigans started the second half as sprightly as they did the first and with the locals falling off too many tackles as their guests attacked, Chris Dunne was afforded a not too difficult run to the line for their fourth try with Shaughnessy, back on,  kicking the conversion. The hosts responded with their fourth try when Wakefield was helped over for his second of the afternoon and Kealin O’Neill converted to make it 22-28 in favour of the visitors. A sweeping ‘Weigans move in the 53rd minute paved the way for their fifth try of the game and Armstrong’s second as Shaughnessy obliged yet again with the extras.

At 22-35 down Ballinasloe now entered a purple patch and heaped the pressure on the visitors well inside their half. The introduction of regular tight head prop Tommy Dolan just before the half time break made a significant improvement to the locals scrum as well as enhancing their  play at ruck and maul. ‘Weigans did not have any real answer to the power play from the home side’s  pack and twice, in quick succession, they drove their way over the try line only to find the ball held up by a despairing hand. The penalty count began to mount up against the visitors and it came as no surprise when one of their players was sin binned for an infringement too many. One woundered had the home side brought this type of intensity to their play earlier on in the game what the outcome might have been. Their ingenuity yielded a well deserved try in the 70th minute when David Freeman forced his way over. It went unconverted. It was now 27-35 and the scoring was closed. The winners were now more than happy to run down the clock and take their eight point win.                                                                                                 BALLINASLOE: A,Mannion, D.Freeman, C.Gormley, R.Cullinan, Cian Loughrey, K.O’Neill, M.Tierney, J.J.Carey, A.O’Hara, G.Donnellan, N.Staunton, K.Headd(capt.), H.Reynolds, K.Gavin, R.Wakefield. Replacements: T.Dolan, M.Harrigan, A.Loughrey, R.Sheppard, R.Keller.                     Referee: K.Collins (Connacht Branch).

Ballinasloe U18s qualified for the Connacht U18 Cup final on Sunday after they overcame Corinthians in a home semi-final on the scoreline of12pts to 7. The scores were level 7pts each at the break. The home side played against a strong breeze in the opening period where Conor Payne went over for a try, converted by Simon Keller. With that breeze dropping in the second period, a tight and close fought battle followed with a second Payne try securing a win for the locals. They will now meet the winners of Sligo versus Galweigans in the final.

The club’s U16s lost out to Galweigans 22pts to 27 in their cup fixture. An indifferent first half performance saw them trail by 15pts at half time. However, they upped their game greatly in the second period and had ‘Weigans in all sorts of bother before losing out by a try at the finish. Scorers for Ballinasloe were Sean Bleahin ( 3 tries ), Colm O’Brien ( 1 try ), Colm Reilly ( 1 conv. ).

The ladies U15s were in top form when taking the National Umbrella 7s competition in Dublin at the week-end. The standard of rugby here was of a high quality and the Ballinasloe team did very well to reach the final where they had to pull out all the stops to overcome Railway Union by six tries to four.                                                                                                                                          On Saturday next, March 14th, a ladies selection from the club will take on a visiting Canadian team from Kingston, Ontario in a friendly at the club grounds. Kick off is at 12.30pm.

The boys U13s have completed a very successful league campaign, playing eight games where they won seven and drew one. They open their cup campaign on Sunday next, March 15th., with a home fixture against Carrick-on-Shannon. Kick off is at 12.00 noon.                                         Liam Courtney, Club PRO.

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