Connacht Junior League Div 1A
CORINTHIANS 10
BALLINA           44
(In Corinthian Park, Galway)
Ballina travelled away to Corinthians and concluded their Junior League campaign by scoring seven trys in the course of an emphatic victory over the Galway city side. An open and entertaining brand of rugby was played by both sides in the idyllic spring sunshine which prevailed in Corinthian Park. Corinthians started much better and all the early pressure was from the home side which clearly coped with the early 12.30 kick off time than the visitors. Ballina’s first up tackling was on occasion found wanting and under pressure were conceding penalties which ensured that Corinthians maintained a foothold in Ballina’s half of the field. The Galway men retained the ball well and soon Ballina were defending on their line as the tribesmen moved the ball through the hands out wide before second row Enda Murphy got hold of the ball from a ruck close to the line and drove over for the games opening try just six minutes into the game. Mick O’Flynn was unable to add the conversion so Corinthians lead 5-0. Ballina had to respond and were stung into action from the restart. They were competed at every opportunity exemplified by Phillip Timoney robbing a lineout ball and driving forward and soon Ballina had the ball in hand and were putting their hosts under pressure. Phillip Rowe and Judd Ruane were prominent carrying the ball and making good ground, while half backs Michael Murphy and Cory Brown moved the ball well and varied the play with good effect. Corinthians conceded a penalty from a ruck within Cory Browns range and when the visitor’s number 10 put over the kick his side had reduced the deficit to two points, 5-3. From the restart Ballina continued to take the game to Corinthians, but often undone good work by conceding needless penalties. The next score in the game came when Ballina were penalised for holding onto the ball on the ground inside Corinthians 22 following good and patient play where they had built up the phases, attacking both wide and close in. When Corinthians opted to kick to touch they missed and the ball was fielded by Kieran Rouse who immediately initiated a counter attack. He had support from  prop forward Mark Healy who drew a defender and passed on to hooker Rodney O’Donnell who showed equally good hands to draw his man and get the pass away to number 8 Phillip Timoney. Timoney accelerated into space and swerved past several would be tacklers showing great evasive running skills which cumulated in him going all the way, crossing the line and touching down for a great try. The conversion wasn’t added so Ballina now lead 8-5. But Ballina dealt poorly with the restart. Corinthians immediately got their hands on the ball and were running at the Mayo men. The quality of Ballina’s first up tackling wasn’t up to their usual standard and Corinthians were making ground. When the ball was put wide centre Ciaran Dunne made the breakthrough and crossed for a well taken try. Again the conversion was missed but the hosts had regained the lead 10-8. They did not hold onto the lead for too long however. Straight away Ballina got back in Corinthians half and from a scrum outside the 22 Phillip Timoney picked and fed the ball to Phillip Rowe who powered forward and set up a ruck from which Ballina moved the ball wide at pace. Winger Francis Conroy went very close to going over in the corner but from the ensuing ruck Cory Brown proved unstoppable when he picked and drove over for the try. Ballina’s lead was restored 13-10 as the conversion wasn’t added but it was to get worse for Corinthians as the kicked the ball dead conceding a scrum on the half way line from the restart. From this scrum Cory Brown attacked down the right but the alert out half noted Corinthians had too many defenders covering down this side and switched play with a long pass to centre Chris O’Neill who exploited Ballina’s advantage by accelerating into space before passing to the supporting David Newman who raced in for the try under the post. Cory brown added the conversion extending Ballina’s lead to 20-10 which remained the score line until half time despite Corinthians out half Mick O’Flynn having two unsuccessful penalty kick attempts before the break. The first try of the second half came from a period of intensive defence by Ballina as Corinthians brought the game to them. Ballina were defending just outside their 22 when Cory Brown put in a tackle which dislodged the ball from his opponents grasp. It was seized by Francis Conroy and the young winger put in a tremendous run from his 22 out pacing all covering Corinthian players before touching down for a try. Cory Brown missed the conversion with a good attempt from wide on the left so Ballina lead 25-10. Ballina kept their opponents pinned in their half and as Corinthians tried to run back against the Mayo sides aggressive defence they payed a heavy price for their adventure when David Newman intercepted and raced in to score under the posts. The conversion was added by Brown so the score was now 32-10.  Immediately from the restart Cory brown fielded the ball and fed Phillip Rowe who set off on a powerful run from which the ball was kept alive with some excellent play from backs and forwards culminating in number 8 Phillip Timoney running in for his second try, with the Swinford man showing equally impressive skills as he did when scoring his first. Cory Brown added the conversion stretching the lead to 39-10. Corinthians again took the game to Ballina who conceded a lot of penalties which gave the tribes men a foothold in Ballina’s half but there was also so some resolute defending and the last score of the game was registered when Phillip Rowe turned the ball over at the breakdown and when the ball was fed out to Chris O’Neill he emulated Francis Conroy’s earlier run by out pacing all and running the length of the park before touching down in the corner. The conversion wasn’t added and when the final whistle sounded Ballina were victors by 44-10. The result underscored Ballina’s third place finish in the league which ensures they will play in the All Ireland Junior Cup competition next year. Next week Ballina travel to take on Ballinasloe in the Junior Cup and they will be hoping to emulate or improve on this performance in what will be a difficult challenge. Ballina have areas of their game to work on and the south Galway team will be very capable of exploiting any opportunity granted to them by Ballina. It will be no easy task to travel that distance and get a result against a very competitive side that will be very much up for causing an upset. Ballina have the ability to improve on areas where they won’t have been happy with their performance and have shown they certainly have the ability to play entertaining and effective rugby.  
CORINTHIANS ; Dave Small, Dave Bardon, Fiachra Tierney, Enda Murphy, Peader Toner, Mathew Flynn, Adrian Pilkington, Aurillian Casandra, Eric Flynn, Mick O’Flynn, Kieran Dolan, Ronnie Fergusen, Ciaran Dunne, Emmett Melee, Brendan Carpenter, Dave Lillis, Alan Walsh.
BALLINA; Paul Newell, Rodney O’Donnell, Mark Healy, Stephen Dolan, Kieran Bourke, Judd Ruane, Phillip Rowe, Phillip Timoney, Michael Murphy (C), Cory Brown, Michael Clarke, Chris O’Neill, David Newman, Francis Conroy, Kieran Rouse, James O’Connor, Liam Lynch, Aiden McNulty, Craig Culkin.
REFFEREE; Seamus Phillips.

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