Castlebar 13 0 Ballinasloe

Fresh from two convincing wins over Mayo sides in their most recent league outings, Ballinasloe travelled to meet the third side from that county on Sunday but came home with an empty bag. A below par performance that lacked the sparkle shown recently made it easier for the locals to garner the league points on offer but the sides were closer than the final scoreline reads.

Played in atrocious conditions with incessant rain slanting its way across a pitch that was already sodden, both teams have to be commended for putting up a fair old battle for honours.

Castlebar were on the board within the first minute. Ballinasloe knocked on from the kick off and when the locals won and attacked from the resultant scrum the visitors defence was found wanting as flanker, Gavin O’Sullivan, made it over for a try and a tonic of a start for the hosts. Ballinasloe dominated the next twenty minutes starting with a threatening maul to the local’s line but Mark Harrigan and his cohorts were held up just short. They also had a number of promising scrums in that area of the field but their outcome came to nought. From one such scrum Castlebar hacked the ball clear and when Ballinasloe knocked on just inside their  own half, almost a repeat of the opening action followed. Castlebar won their scrum and moved the ball left. An inside pass found No.8 David Staunton who exposed the visitors defensive frailties and trundled his way to the line for try number two after twenty three minutes.  The conversion fell short.

This second try was a major blow for the travelling side and it took some time for them to get any composure back into their play. Approaching half time Aidan Doorley stole a Castlebar ball at a lineout in their half which setup a brief passing movement and strong running centre Conor Johnston made good headway before sliding into the local’s defensive cover and another half chance got away.

Half time arrived with the hosts 10pts to the good.

Ballinasloe tried valiantly to get their game going in the second period but despite being on top territorially found it beyond themselves to string effective phases together. The hosts, for their part, found it difficult to make any advances when in possession though they did knock over a penalty from the boot of out half Ronan Conway after fifty minutes. They were blown up a lot for indiscretions and ball killing and by the fifty seventh minute the referee had enough and their hooker was yellow carded for coming in from the side at ruck time.

Ballinasloe failed to take advantage of their numerical superiority and as both sides tired in the deteriorating conditions the error count expanded noticeably.  Still the visitors drummed up one last ounce of devil and made a bold bid late on to get on the scoreboard at least if not indeed pull off a losing bonus point. A last minute surge from Alan Wade was held up by what could be only centimetres from the line and then there was time for no more.

BALLINASLOE: M.Tierney, M.Gibbons(B.Brophy 64mins), K.O’Neill(C.Loughrey 60mins), C.Johnston, R.Aherne, F.Sweeney, R.Doolan, J.J.Carey, A.O’Hara(capt), T.Dolan, K.Dolan( A.Wade 58mins), M.Harrigan, H.Reynolds, N.Staunton, A.Doorley( D.Fenton 48mins). Replacement prop: G.Donnellan.

LIAM COURTNEY, PRO BALLINASLOE RFC.

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