O.L.B.C.    6
BALLINA 13
( In The Sportsgrounds, Galway)
13 points scored by young out-half Sam Johnson in the first half was enough to ensure that Ballina progressed when they travelled to The Sportsgrounds in Galway in the Cawley Cup last Friday night. From the kick off Ballina who had the wind at their backs took the game to their hosts. With scrum-half Michael Murphy orchestrating play along with Johnson and a solid platform in both scrum and lineout Ballina began to build phase after phase, with Aiden McNulty, Richard Kelly, Orrie Collins, Markjoesph Healy and Jerome Harrimate particularly prominent for the Mayo men as they repeatedly carried over the gain line and ensured continuity. An enormous and very committed defensive effort from the home side was all that kept Ballina at bay but O.L.B.C suffered a huge set-back when they lost influential hooker Paul McCreanor to injury 10 minuets into the game. He was replaced by John Barry but the already ascendant Ballina scrum in an even more dominant position with the front row of Ciaran Melvin; Richard Kelly and Alex Lee very much on top. 15 minuets into the match Ballina finally turned pressure into points when Boy’s Club conceded a penalty for slowing the ball down at a ruck that fell within Sam Johnson’s range. There was a difficult wind to deal with, but Johnson’s kick from the right of the posts was well struck and Ballina deservedly took a 3-0 lead in the game. The home side were valiant in their efforts to rally but struggled to get out of their half for any sustained period as Ballina’s back three of Francis Conroy,  Kevin McCarron and Andy Moynihan gathered any clearing kicks with aplomb and either initiated counter attacking play or pinned the Galway City side back with kicks into the corner. Moynihan was particularly impressive with a couple of efforts that found space behind the O.L.B.C back three and brought play from Ballina’s half to within metres of the home team’s line. Flankers Phillip Timoney and Orrie Collins were insatiable in their search for a turnover and it was one secured by Collins that lead to him making a great break and initiating another multi-phased attack that once more culminated in a penalty kick opportunity for Johnson, this time to the left of the posts, which he again converted with an excellently struck kick. Orrie Collins was a dynamo of activity massively effective in defence and incisive in attack. Ballina’s dominance up front continued to be a factor and Phillip Timoney was able to secure a couple of steals in the lineout which added to the tide of possession that was flowing Ballina’s way. Handling errors on a bitterly cold night and not being direct enough on occasions prevented the visitors from adding to their tally eventually the breakthrough came. Ciaran Melvin secured ball from an untidily executed lineout inside Boy’s Club’s half and Ballina moved the ball wide with Harrimate making good ground and despite a massive defensive effort from the home team Ballina put the phases together, picked and drove, recycled the ball with efficient rucking and crept closer to the line before moving it wide again and good handling meant that the patient build up was rewarded when Sam Johnson cut through the embattled defence metres from the line and raced in to score a good try under the posts. He added the conversion so the score was now 13-0 in Ballina’s favour which it remained until half time. In the second half O.L.B.C rallied and with the wind advantage now in their favor had Ballina in their 22. A penalty kick from centre Dave Pryor was just reward for their efforts after Ballina were penalised for going off their feet in a ruck and 17 minutes later Pryor added another penalty to bring the game within a converted try for the hosts. Ballina continued to be extremely dominant in the scrum but this advantage was negated after O.L.B.C had the misfortune to have their substitute hooker injured and the the referee was forced to move to uncontested scrums. This gave the home team a platform of possession to play off they were unable to secure earlier in the game and Ballina’s propensity to concede penalties in this half contributed to the foothold the City club now had in the game. But when Boy’s Club brought play right up to Ballina’s line the Mayo men refused to yield and won a penalty on their line when the attacking team was had a player isolated and holding onto the ball on the ground. Ballina used all their subs in the half introducing Rodney O’Donnell in the front row, Stephen Dolan in the second row, Arthur West at flanker, Cory Brown in the centre and Conor Devers at full back. With Connor Forde working tirelessly and McNulty, West and Timoney putting in thumping tackles, while Captain Michael Murphy dominated play and directed Ballina’s efforts it was a great effort by the Mayo men who despite the hunger and desire shown by the home side never looked like yielding. The final whistle was greeted by great joy and relief as Ballina secured their passage to the next round. Next Sunday Ballina play Ballinasloe in the Junior Plate final possibly before the Junior Cup final in the Sportsgrounds,  though this is not certain at the time of writing.
O.L.B.C; Greg Faherty, Eamonn Dowling, Connor Mulligan, Matt O’Mahony, Donnacha Carey, Ciaran Coyle, Tom Haddock, Paul McCreanor, Mike Burke, James Moran (C), Stephen Casserly, Joe Connolly, Shane Connors, Dave O’Reilly, John Barry, Rob Holian, Sherif Mazouk, Peter Cosgrove, Mark O’Boyle.
BALLINA; Andrew Moynihan, Francis Conroy, Jerome Harrimate, Michael Allen, Kevin McCarron, Sam Johnson, Michael Murphy ( C ), Ciaran Melvin, Richard Kelly, Alex Lee, Connor Forde, Markjoesph Healy, Orrie Collins, Phillip Timoney, Aiden McNulty, Rodney O’Donnell, Stephen Dolan, Arthur West, Cory Brown, Connor Dever.
REFEREE; Roy Gibson. 

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