Ballina RFC’s under-15 girls claimed the Connacht Cup title in the Sportsground with a hard-fought victory over Ballinasloe. Ballina centre Clara Barrett recorded all 17 of her side’s points as the Mayo girls overcame the valiant challenge of their Galway opponents.
Tries either side of half-time gave Ballina the platform they needed to drive on for the win. The sides managed two tries apiece but it was Barrett’s accuracy with the boot, converting both tries in addition to an early penalty, that separated the sides at the final whistle.
That early penalty, awarded after full-back Nina McVann was tackled high close to the line, gave Ballina the lead but Ballinasloe were in for the game’s first try on 25 minutes. Shauna Mitchell darted for the corner off the base of a ruck and powered her way over to put her side in front.
But Ballina, with centre Finola Collins in excellent form, hit back just before half-time. A stylish move across the backline involving Katelyn Bourke, Collins and McVann ended with Barrett touching down and converting her own try to send Ballina in 10-5 in front at the break.
That lead wad extended to 12 shortly after the restart as scrum-half Amy McWilliams loped off the back of a scrum and fed the ball to Barrett for her second converted try.
Ballinasloe refused to give in and were back within a single score with 20 minute of the allotted 60 to go after number 8 Alisha Williams crashed over in the left corner.
But try as they might they couldn’t break down the Ballina rearguard for the try they needed to draw level and the Mayo girls held firm to record a historic Connacht Cup win.
BALLINA: Nina McVann, Aoife Hannigan, Clara Barrett, Finola Collins, Ciara Carroll, Katelyn Bourke, Amy McWilliams; Maisie McMaster, Sheena Connolly, Eimear Treacy, Mollie Tully, Roisin Carroll, Leah Sweeney.
BALLINASLOE: Alisha Manning, Eimear Hynes, Shauna Mitchell, Isabelle Finneran, Emma Mitchell, Avril Deely, Anna McCann; Joann Curley, Martha Freehill, Niamh Kelly, Leah Hogarty, Alisha Noone, Alisha Williams.
Replacements: Aoife Castle (for Noone 55, inj), Orlaith Brennan (for Manning 60, inj).
REF: Garrett Durkan