Ballinasloe finished their league campaign strongly with a decisive win over Connemara, away, on Sunday to guarantee their place in the new restructured league division for next season. They have hit a rich vein of form recently as this win together with last week-end’s away victory over Portumna, in must win matches, will testify. This outcome was based on a strong pack performance as well as an organised defence and backs who were able to take scores when the opportunity arose.

Connemara were the more dominant side early on but once Ballinasloe got their focus in place they had their opponents playing second fiddle for most of the opening period. The locals were wide with a penalty after eight minutes before a number of Ballinasloe charges at the line culminated in Mark Gibbons racing in for a try, that was not converted, in the thirteenth minute. Four minutes later and Connemara were ahead when they ran in a try under the sticks following some wretchedly poor tackling by the Ballinasloe defence.
The conversion followed. To be fair it must be said that this was the one black mark against the visitors defence all afternoon and thereafter they were well up to the mark. Connemara were penalised for not releasing after the tackle and Alan Naughton landed the penalty in the twenty first minute. Five minutes later, lively centre, Joe Dunne danced his way over for try number two with Naughton landing the honours to put Ballinasloe eight pts up. There followed a brief melee that had the referee speaking with both captnins before awarding a penalty to Connemara that was kicked over. Naughton landed another penalty before the break to leave the visitors 18pts to 10 to the
good.

The opening twenty minutes of the second half
was mainly fought out between the packs with few scoring chances arising. Connemara were putting the pressure on but Ballinasloe mauled their way out of trouble on mor than one occasion. Ballinasloe introduced Richie Shepherd in the backs and the mobile John Hayes in the forwards to add fresh legs to the effort. In the sixty eighth minute Connemara were penalised for off side and Alan Naughton’s kick was true. As the game entered the closing stages Adrian Doorley made a barnstorming charge out of defence to bring play into the Connemara 22 metre line. Some phases of play followed before hard working second row Kevin Dolan ripped the ball from a ruck  and made a bullocking charge for the line to touch down for the  final try with Naughton adding the conversion.
Team coach Noel Mannion and his charges can be well pleased with this result as it puts them in a good place for next season.

Team:

A.Naughton, C.Loughrey, L.Feerick, J.Dunne, M.Gibbons, G.Hogan, S.Daly, J.J.Carey, A.O’Hara(capt.), T.Dolan, H.Reynolds, K.Dolan, K.Headd, M.Harrigan, A.Doorley. Replacements:
R.Shepherd, J.Hayes, M.Colohan, K.Hogarty, A.Wade. Elsewhere, Ballinasloe U19s were unfortunate to loose out to Corinthians in their cup fixture at home on Sunday on the score of 10pts to 5. Following a good first half performance Ballinasloe went in at the break 5pts to 3 ahead thanks to a try from David Freeman. They were still in the hunt for a win well into the second half but a breakway try by the visitors that was converted put paid to their chances.They now enter the Plate competition.

LIAM COURTNEY
PRO BALLINASLOE RFC

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