BALLINASLOE SURVIVE

                                                          BALLINASLOE 11—- 9 WESTPORT

It was yet another late late show performance from Ballinasloe in this tense Junior1A league encounter at Graigueawoneen on Sunday. Last week-end they had victory denied them with a last second converted try in Ballina. This time they were the beneficiaries of those smiling gods as Westport fluffed two kickable penalties deep into time added on. The locals survival gave further credence to the old saying that “lightning never strikes twice”. Their supporters gave a huge sigh of relief at the final whistle having witnessed at first hand their side’s penchant for last minute drama.

There was little enough to choose between two fairly even matched sides. Westport had the stronger scrum and at times had more structure to their game while Ballinasloe were brave in defence and had the facility to make inroads, at times, deep into Westport territory. Indeed had the locals better control of their own ball they would have more than 11pts to show for their afternoon’s endeavours.

Sean Tobin kicked the visitors ahead in the sixth minute with a close in penalty. There followed a period of Ballinasloe supremacy as they put in a serious shift close to the Westport line and the visitors had a forward yellow carded for implementing his own interpretation of the scrum laws. Keelan O’Neill equalised in the 17th minute before the burrowing John Hayes got over for a Ballinasloe try after twenty three minutes. The conversion did not increase the score. The locals should have made more of their possession at this stage but Conor Hastings and his pack did well to keep them at bay. Ballinasloe’s Cian Loughrey was unfortunate to see yellow for not rolling away after the tackle as he seemed to be held in and with a player advantage, Tobin kicked his second penalty just before the break to leave the score 8-6 as the players trooped off at the interval.

Ballinasloe were as willing as ever as the second period unfolded but protection of their own ball was proving a hazard for them and all too often they coughed up cheap ball to their opponents. In time, frustration would creep into their game and they would start conceding needless penalties.

One searing run from Andrew Mannion saw the locals bring play to within five metres of their opponents line  and when the visitors were pinged for off side O’Neill extracted the maximum from their infringement. There were six pts. between the sides after fifty seven minutes. Westport always posed a threat and Cian Loughrey put in a big hit on the strong running Kevin Corcoran as he made tracks up through the middle. Tobin made it a one score game with a penalty as the game entered the final stretch.

Westport were full of running and inventiveness in the closing stages. It was really all shoulders to the wheel for the home side as the clock ticked down but they held firm and their “thou shalt pass” approach stood them in good stead. And then there were those two heart stopping penalty misses. Ah well !! the locals did deserve a smidgen of good fortune,didn’t they?                                                 BALLINASLOE TEAM: A.Mannion, D.Burke, C.Johnston, R.Cullinan, Cian Loughrey, K.O’Neill, Conor Loughrey, K.Gavin, A.O’Hara, T.Dolan, N.Staunton, K.Headd, A.Loughrey, J.Hayes, R.Wakefield. Replacements: J.J.Carey, A.McGrath, H.Reynolds, M.Tierney, D.Freeman.                                             Ballinasloe’s Development Squad were also in action on Sunday when they took on their south Galway rivals, Portumna, in a friendly following the senior action. After close opening exchanges the locals got some structure into their game before going on to win. Manager, Danny Maguire, and coach, Der Tierney(Snr.) will be pleased that their season got off to a winning start.                              

                                                                   BALLINASLOE RFC GOLF CLASSIC.

Ballinasloe rugby club will be holding its annual Michael Fitzpatrick Memorial fundraising Golf Classic at Ballinasloe golf club on Saturday Sept. 27th. The format will be a three ball scramble (any combination). Entry fee is 75 euros for a team of three. First prize is a fourball at Carton House. Other prizes include fourballs for: The Hermitage, Glasson, Esker Hills, Portumna, New Forest, Birr and Mount Temple. Tee times may be booked at Ballinasloe golf club, Tel. No. 090-964-2126. There is an all ladies team prize. All support will be greatly appreciated.                                                               

Liam Courtney, PRO,Ballinasloe RFC.

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