Buccaneers 13       Ballinasloe 36

Ballinasloe maintained their interest in the play-off spot for promotion to Division 1A with a compelling display against Buccaneers at Dubarry Park on Sunday when winning with 23pts to spare.

The winners were on top throughout as Buccs rarely posed a threat and were a well beaten side at finish.

The visitors made four changes to their starting line up from the side that took the field against Corrib last week; David Freeman replaced the injured Conor Johnston in the centre while Mark Harrigan came into the second row for the exam tied Niall Staunton. Robert Ahern and Tommy Dolan were in for Mark Gibbons and Kevin Gavin respectively.

Ballinasloe knew what was required of them from the off and had the hosts back pedalling from early on. They engineered a number of raids on their opponents line before opening the scoring after fifteen minutes. The score had a brotherly love attachment to it as scrum half Conor Loughrey  put his brother Cian through, down the right wing channel, for the opening try with Kealan O’Neill adding a difficult conversion from the touchline. Minutes later and try number 2 was secured when Ballinasloe pushed the Buccs scrum back over their own line for John Hayes to drop on the ball with O’Neill adding the extras; 14pts to the good and building.

Buccaneers did respond mid-way through the half when Glen Costelloe landed two well struck penalties and a hint that the locals might be going to make a fifth of it. However, it was only a mirage of a sporting nature as Ballinasloe were back in harness almost immediately. A Hayes charge into the locals 22 metre line saw Rory Doolan on his shoulder to take the off load and canter in for the third try with the conversion kick going askew.

The hosts were finding it difficult to stay with their opponents who were superior in the scrum and with Aidan Doorley and Robbie Wakefield prominent out of touch Buccs found it hard to get their hands on the ball to create anything. Their fly half Glen Costelloe looked lively on the rare occasion that the ball did come his way but operating behind a beaten pack, it was never going to be his day.

Ballinasloe got their fourth try and accruing bonus point just before half time. Again, Hayes who was a major irritant to the locals all afternoon, backed himself against the Buccs defence and touched down before O’Neill added the con version to have his side 26pts to 6 in front as the teams went to the half time huddles.

The second period was only five minutes old when Conor Loughrey broke from a scrum deep in Buccs territory to dive over for yet another Ballinasloe try with the conversion going wide off the upright.

As the half progressed the visitors play became somewhat disjointed. Their passing lost its crispness and accuracy and their play in the tight became sloppy. But it would be churlish to be over critical of the winners play in the final quarter. After all, the shopping items were secured and mentally they were on the bus home. They were 25pts ahead and a lowering of focus would be understandable.  Nevertheless, they did tack on one more try when the captain, Andy O’Hara, got his name on the try scorers list with a speedy burst to the line for Ballinasloe’s sixth and final try with the conversion kick not registering.

Buccaneers did save some face before the finish with a consolation try. Second row, George Kenny, found his way through the visitors defence and his pop pass was taken on by flanker, David Burns, who touched down behind the sticks to make the conversion easy for Costelloe.

Ballinasloe Team: M.Tierney, Cian Loughrey, D.Freeman, R.Doolan, R.Ahern, K.O’Neill, Conor Loughrey, J.J.Carey, A.O’Hara(capt), T.Dolan, M.Harrigan, H.Reynolds, R.Wakefield, J.Hayes, A.Doorley. Replacements: (all used) K.Gavin, A.Wade, K.Dolan, A.Loughrey, C.Brophy.

                                                 Ballinasloe 6       Castlebar 14

Ballinasloe second XV entertained Caastlebar in their league at Moher on Sunday and despite a huge improvement on recent performances, came up short in the end. The visitors led by a solitary penalty kick at the break and doubled their advantage early in the second period before Benny Brophy pulled 3pts back with a penalty for the locals. Both sides then exchanged penalties to leave only 3pts between the sides going into the final stages. However, a late Castlebar try put the issue beyond doubt.

Ballinasloe Team: J.Carrick, A.Bannerton, P.Rock, D.Tierney, P.McCormack, N.Kelly(capt), B.Brophy, N.Finneran, A.Moloney, G.Donnellan, T.Freeman, E.Clogher, W.Sharpe, J.Brookes, V.Naughton. Replacements: (used) D.Maguire and P.Larkin.

                                                 Under Age Games

Ballinasloe U14s travelled to take on Galweigans in the cup on Sunday and triumphed by the narrowest of margins-18pts to b17- after a humdinger of a contest. Jack Canning kicked their only first half score-a penalty- early on and the visitors found themselves 17-3 in arrears as the second half moved on. But they never gave up the ghost and showed great heart in a barnstorming fight back. Tries from Sean Bleahan, K. Manning and a last minute one from Dylan McDonagh saw the visitors grab a win right at the death.

The club’s U13s had a runaway win over a Corinthians team in their cup fixture.

Liam Courtney                                                                                                                                                      PRO Ballinasloe RFC

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