Our Lady’s Boys Club righted its ship on Sunday to go back within kicking distance of the Connacht Junior Division 1A league’s pole position with a 16-10 defeat of Corinthians.

Played at the Sportsground in mild but chilly conditions Ambrose Conboy masterminded a tight and disciplined shut-out over a Corinthians side which, on the balance of previous weeks, had shown serious mettle as another league contender.  

While both sides were guilty of far too many handling errors, the penalty count was well down and testified to both teams’ due diligence and focus.

Dave Dooley at 15 posted the day’s first points, a 36m penalty from out in front, and backline general and captain Dave Prior latched on to a Corithians pass on their own 10m to scoot 44m for the day’s first try. Dooley added the extras.

Not to be outdone, Corinthians powered through some lax backline defence to close the gap to three, and chased their first try up with a penalty on the stroke of halftime.

Poised 10-all with 40 to play it was the visitors who gained a foothold for the next quarter-hour but failed to convert several linebreaks into anything tangible. Boys Club’s loose forwards Shaney Connors and Dave Reilly were honest on defence not content with bringing opposites to ground but halting them mid-stride and driving them back in double-figure tackle counts. Shipmate Willie Cullinane did much of the ball carrying.

Inconspicuous anonymity has long been the sign of a good second row but James Moran and Gareth Clarke were anything but, operating throughout the day as fourth and fifth loose forwards with tackle-counts to rival Connors’ own.

Donncha Carey (10) and Prior (13) were arguably the pick of the backs but little separated the seven beyond the scrum, Ciaran Coyle at halfback and Eamonn Dowling on the wing also proved useful in alleviating pressure.

Mathematically, it was one crucial error on Corinthians’ part in particular which sunk them following a linebreak down the lefthand touch. Rather than ground the ball where he crossed the tryline the would be scorer overstepped the dead ball rounding for the posts.

Our Lady’s Boys Club scored two further penalties (while missing a third) and managed to grind down the clock despite a spirited and desperate last gasp assault from the Cloonacauneen visitors.

Coach Ambrose Conboy, while disappointed with the high turnover count and handling errors, was impressed with the discipline and ownership shown from the outset. The Castlebar battlescars appear to have faded and there was no sign on Sunday of any lingering shellshock. Most crucially in Boys Club’s favour was their ability to gift Corinthians nothing once mistakes were made, and punishing those opposite for theirs.

Boys Club meets Connemara in Clifden next up, Sunday, October 6. 

Luke O’Donnell

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