Ballina claimed their seventh Junior Cup title and their second in three years with a commanding victory over Sligo in the Sportsground. The North Mayo side ran in six tries on their way to a 36-point victory to regain the title they last won in 2016 and take another step toward a remarkable domestic treble, having already won the Cawley Cup and established a big lead atop the J1A league table.
They were never really troubled by a disappointing Sligo here. Ballina lead by 17 points to nil at half-time and by all of 43 late on before Sligo crossed for a late consolation. All of Daniel Molloy, Kieran Lindsay, Fergal Tully and Chris O’Neill excelled for the winners as they proved far too strong for the Sligo challengers.
They had their first try on 16 minutes as number 8 Molloy broke free of a maul 40 metres out and showed searing pace to round Sligo full-back Enda Gavin and dive in. Lindsay converted the try and then touched down his own four minutes later, breaking three tackles before crossing the line.
Sligo were struggling to make any telling tackles in the face of Ballina’s power and speed and they conceded a penalty for Lindsay to stroke over and extend the lead to 17. Sligo, to their credit, improved as the half wore on but they couldn’t break down a disciplined Ballina line and the score remained 17-nil at the interval.
The pattern of Ballina dominance continued unabated after the restart; Molloy crashed over for his second try on 47 minutes off the back of a slick line-out move and winger David Brunker crossed for try number four soon after as he intercepted a Sligo pass and raced in to score from 50 yards.
Lindsay added the conversion – the out-half missed just one kick from seven – and late tries from substitute Gary Kavanagh and prop Conor Mason rounded out the rout late on. Kavanagh peeled off the back of a maul to dot down and Mason fly-hacked through and dove on the loose ball.
Sligo got the try their efforts deserved at the death as winger Stuart O’Brien showed good speed to reach the corner. Niall Gray’s excellent conversion finished out the scoring for the game and the final whistle sounded soon after to confirm Ballina as Junior Cup champions for 2018.
BALLINA: Chris O’Neill, Cian Mullarkey, Calujm Quinn, Alex Corduff, David Brunker, Kieran Lindsay, Mickey Murphy; Conor Mason, Luke Sweeney, Shane Clarke, Andrew West, Richard Morrow, Aidan McNulty, Fergal Tully, Daniel Molloy.
Replacements: Richard Kelly, Gary Kavanagh, Henry Hewson, Mark Feely, Bradley Nealon.
SLIGO: Enda Gavin, Stuart O’Brien, Daire Byrne, Gavin Foley, Charles Thomas Cooper, Niall Gray, Garry O’Hehir; Jamie Bowes, Ross O’Boyle, Craig Adams, David Cawley, David Heath, Jake Sexton, Christian Nielsen, Ross Hickey.
Replacements: Aaron Tansey, Liam McElhinney, Michael McMorrow, Mataele Fifita, Sean Mullin.
REF: Danny McGuire