MIXED FORTUNES FOR BALLINASLOE

Ballinasloe were in action on three fronts at the week-end, contesting two cup finals and a semi-final. The first team crashed out of the Cawley Cup at the penultimate stage when going down by the narrowest of margins to Westport while in under-age action the U17s were unfortunate to lose out to Buccaneers in their cup final while the U13s pulled off a thrilling cup victory against Sligo.

BALLINASLOE 23 – 24 WESTPORT

Ballinasloe took on Westport for the second time within a month, at Graigueawoneen, and went down to an agonising one point defeat. Played in brilliant sunshine and with a fresh breeze blowing from the road end, the home side were full value for their 13-5 interval lead. However, two converted tries for Westport early in the second half was a huge blow for the locals to take, making their task very difficult while also playing into a strong wind.

Ballinasloe were first on the board with a Ruaidhri Doolan penalty before Sean Tobin crossed for the first of his two tries to edge the visitors in front. The locals’ game was improving as the half progressed and Doolan added a second penalty before converting a well taken Darragh Burke try. As the half ended the hosts would have regretted not making more of their chances with the wind to their backs.

Westport made a whirl-wind start to the second period. Tom Dever made the hard yards before off-loading to No.8, Chris Ryan, who touched down under the posts to leave an easy conversion for Matt Dempsey. The dust had not settled before Tobin was waltzing past a few would-be tackles to touch down for his second try of the afternoon with Dempsey again obliging with the conversion. Four minutes in and the game had been stood on its head; 13-19 to the visitors. In fairness to the locals they had been operating with fourteen men; their hard tackling centre, Rodney Cullinan, having been yellow carded just before the break.

To their great credit, Ballinasloe steadied the ship and were back in front with fifteen minutes left on the clock. First, a big drive by the forwards helped John Hayes over for a try before second row, Niall Staunton, put in a strong run to touch down in the corner with both conversions being missed. The score was now 23 -19 to the locals who had worked their way valiantly back into the game. But there was to be a sting in the tail. Much of Ballinasloe’s previous good work came undone when a sloppy clearance from their own 22 gifted Westport the chance to run the ball back and Danny McGowan punished them with a try in the corner. The conversion was missed and the visitors had scraped through by the minimum.

                                                                                                                                     BALLINASLOE: D.Burke, D.Freeman, C.Gormley, R.Cullinan, Cian Loughrey, R.Doolan, Conor Loughrey, K.Gavin, A.O’Hara(capt), J.J.Carey, K.Headd, N.Staunton, A.Loughrey, J.Hayes, R.Wakefield. Replacements: M.Harrigan, H.Reynolds, A.Wade, A.Doorley, J.Dillon.

BALLINASLOE 12 – 5 SLIGO    

Ballinasloe U13s recorded a thrilling 12 points to 5 Cup final win over a tenacious Sligo team at the Sportsground on Sunday. Boosted by a big following, they took an early lead when James Carry went over for a try which Cian Treacy converted. Mid way through the half, Sligo scored a try of their own following a forwards charge for the line. An even first half saw Ballinasloe lead 7-5 at the interval.

The second period saw plenty of running rugby and some speedy breaks by the winners caused problems for the Sligo defence at times. Ballinasloe increased their lead ten minutes into the half with a Jason Cunningham try in the right hand corner but the conversion did not make it over. Sligo put pressure on the winners after this score but the Ballinasloe defence skilfully held out. The Galway side were unlucky not to add a few more tries before the finish.

This U13 squad has had a hugely successful season, now adding the cup to the league which they won earlier on. They played 14 games, winning 13 and drawing one, including three wins against teams outside the province, namely, Tullamore, Nenagh and Old Crescent. They scored a whopping 497pts, while conceding a measly 27, in the process. Now that’s a high bar for our other sides to aim at.

Ballinasloe Team: L.Creavin, D.Farrell, S.Horkan, S.Jennings, J.Cunningham, C.Treacy, C.Finn, J.Curley, O.Dooley, S.Egan, N.Muldoon, P.Grenham, J.Carry, O.McCormack, F.Finneran.                                      Extended Squad Members- C.Silke, R.Shiel, L.Corbett, Z.Moloney, P.Flanagan, C.Potter, J.Moore, L.Dunne, O.Larkin, C.Spain, G.O’Dowd, D.Hopkins, N.McDermott, P.Galvin.

BALLINASLOE  7 – 11 BUCCANEERS

Ballinasloe did not get many breaks in this U17 Cup final against arch rivals, Buccaneers, at the Sportsground on Saturday. Getting off to a slow start did not help their cause especially as they had the wind at their backs in the opening period. Buccs opened the scoring with a penalty and added a try to lead 8-0 at the break.

It was a rejuvenated Ballinasloe side that took the field for the second period. While playing into a strong breeze, they dominated the exchanges forcing Buccs onto the back foot for long periods. A converted try for Ballinasloe saw the lead reduced to the minimum, before Buccs landed their second penalty. A storming finish by Ballinasloe was not enough to see them over the line. Despite this setback the U17s have had a fine season playing exciting rugby at times while also qualifying for the league semi-final.

LIAM COURTNEY, CLUB PRO.

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