Galwegians 17

Ballina         25

(In Crowley Park, Galway)

Ballina travelled to Galway last Sunday and made it four wins from four games in the league when they secured a bonus point win over a good Galwegians side. From the start the visitors dominated the early exchanges and kept the home team pinned in their 22. Half backs Michael Murphy and Cory Brown dictated the pace and tempo of the game and veteran centre David Newman was very influential also, ensuring that Ballina continued to go forward as he tested the home sides defence and put in deft kicks which kept Galwegians pinned back close to their try line. When the Galway City men tried to kick downfield to alleviate the pressure Ballina wasted no time in running the ball back at them with full back Andy Moynihan and wingers Tyrone De Silva making good ground. Up front Phillip Rowe, Philip Timoney and Orrie Collins were impressive in a pack which was exceptionally hardworking and effective. Eight minutes into the game the pressure told when Galwegians were penalised for going off their feet in a ruck. It followed on Ballina turning the ball over with some excellent counter rucking and when the ball was kicked ahead David Newman tackled the Galwegians player who had gathered the ball close to his own line, setting up the ruck that lead to the penalty which was to the left of the post, inside the 22, and within Cory Browns range. His successful place kick opened the scoring and gave Ballina a 3-0 lead. Play continued much as before, with the visitors moving the ball wide quickly and often, but Galwegians were beginning to eke a foothold in the game, securing some good ball at the tail of the lineout through Kris O’Shea and off this setting up an  effective maul which brought them out of their 22. From a ball turned over in a lineout Galwegians Prop Paul Griffin made a great break.

Questions will be asked about the Ballina defence which was slow to react and allowed the number 1 make so much ground as he was only eventually hauled down in front of the posts a yard from the Ballina try line. He couldn’t be prevented from offloading the ball however and Second Row Dinny Mulvey was rewarded for trailing his colleague as he raced in and touched down under the posts to score the games first try. Out Half Ross Shaughnessy added the conversion and Galwegians now led 7-3 and Ballina had a harsh reminder that even when they dominated play any lapses of concentration on their part would be punished by this Galwegians side which was endowed with many quality players. Ballina responded well and were quite proficient at securing their own lineout ball which gave them the possession to take the game back inside their opponents half. With forwards like Alex Lee, Aidan McNulty and Richard Kelly carrying the ball well and Scrum Half Michael Murphy moving the ball quickly Ballina began to stretch their opponents again. Phillip Timoney secured the ball in a lineout and when he took it down he turned and powered forward, finding space and giving Ballina great ball going forward when he was eventually taken down.

The ball was quickly put through the hands and several rucks followed as the home sides defensive resolve was tested again and again by hard running Ballina players. A half break by Cory Brown brought play close to the line and when the ball was moved wide again from left to right it was eventually passed out to Winger Connor Dever who showed great skill and pace when he beat his opponent on the outside and raced in to score the try which restored Ballina’s lead. Cory Brown’s conversion was good and the lead was now 10-7 in Ballina’s favour. Ballina’s next score had very similar origins. Phillip Rowe gathered the ball in a lineout, took it down, turned and powered forward bringing play deep into the heart of Galwegians 22. Phase after phase ensued with the ball being retained and recycled quickly by both forwards and backs for the Mayo men culminating in Hooker Richard Kelly crashing over for another try for Ballina. The conversion kick drifted wide so when the half time whistle sounded later on Ballina lead 15-7. Orrie Collins seemed to have scored a try for Ballina when he blocked down a attempted clearing kick by Shaughnessy and was the first to reach the ball over the try line, but the ball was deemed to have crossed the dead ball line before he dived on it so a 22 out was awarded instead. The second half was to prove very eventful. Ballina applied a lot of pressure again early on. They were camped out on Galwegians try line again and only desperate defence by the home side was keeping them out. Then Ballina succeeded in setting up a maul and drove over the line and it seemed certain they had scored again, but the referee couldn’t see the ball being grounded so no score was given. It was a let off for Galwegians but worse was to come for the visitors as the tide of penalties began to flow against them and their influential Out Half Cory Brown was sin-binned.

Galwegians took full advantage of Ballina’s indiscipline and began to put together some good attacking play themselves. Ross Shaughnessy had two opportunities to convert penalties for his side one of which he was successful with bringing them within 5 points of Ballina 15-10. Their revival suffered a blow however when Ballina’s in form winger Conor Dever intercepted a pass and raced in from the halfway line to score under the posts. With Brown off the field the conversion was missed so the lead was now 20-10 for Ballina. There followed some very good rugby from both sides. Orrie Collins gathered a ball and ran it back before timing his pass to team mate Phillip Timoney to perfection, putting the Ballina number 8 away through a huge gap in the Galwegians defensive line. Timoney made a great run but was isolated when eventually tackled and was penalised for holding on. Tighthead Prop Tom Tolan came on for Alex Lee and later Loosehead Ciaran Melvin replaced Paul Newell for the Moysiders and both had a rejuvenating effect on the teams work rate, but Ballina continued to haemorrhage penalties and that along with some loose and increasingly panicky play gave Galwegians plenty of incentive to work their way back into the game. Soon Ballina were back on their own line defending wave after wave of attacking play from the home side and who were eventually rewarded when Wing Forward Ross Fitzgerald couldn’t be stopped and he ran in and scored close to the posts. Shaughnessy added the conversion and suddenly things were very uncomfortable for Ballina as their lead was now only 3 points 20-17.

By now however Cory Brown was back on the field and substitute Kenny Forde had replaced the injured Phillip Rowe in the back row and was immediately industrious and effective. Mark Healy and Aidan McNulty were dogged and effective up front with the former turning over the ball by ripping it off his opponents in mauls on more than one occasion. Murphy and Brown again dictated the pace soon Ballina were back camped on Galwegians line again with various ball carriers putting their body, literally, on the line searching for the score that would earn the bonus point but eventually Galwegians ran out of defenders when Cory Brown put the ball into the hands of Tyrone De Silva who had too much pace and power to be stopped from diving in and scoring Ballina’s fourth try. The conversion attempt was missed but the final whistle immediately sounded and Ballina had secured the win and bonus point 25-17. The resolve they showed and ability to take their scores indicates that when they retain the ball any team will struggle to live with them, but equally when the take on Monivea in Ballina next Sunday they will have to show much more discipline and control when things are going against them if they are to prevail. It promises to be a cracking encounter against the league’s most successful team and current champions and a large crowd of home support is expected in what will be the pick of the day’s matches.           

GALWEGIANS; Marty Connolly, Dave Quill, Shane Thompstone, Dave Symes, Ronan O’Donnell, Ross Shaughnessy, Conor O’Rourke, Paul Griffin, David Doherty, Martin Fox, Dinny Mulvey, Eoin Tarmey, Mark Durcan, Ross Fitzgerald, Kris O’Shea, Ger Fahy, Doran McHugh, Eddie Earl, Danny Deegan, Paul Power.

BALLINA; Andrew Moynihan, Conor Dever, David Newman, Michael Allen, Tyrone De Silva, Cory Brown, Michael Murphy (C), Phillip Timoney, Phillip Rowe, Orrie Collins, Aidan McNulty, Mark Healy, Paul Newell, Richard Kelly, Alex Lee, Ciaran Melvin, Rodney O’Donnell, Tom Tolan, Kenneth Forde, Francesco Lo Bartolo.

REFFEREE: Daithi Flood.


Mini rugby in focus: Buccaneers RFC