Tuam 6 5 Ballina

(In Garraun Park, Tuam)

Ballina travelled to Tuam last Sunday and paid the price for a lacklustre performance with a 1 point defeat. This earned them a losing bonus point but will be considered a poor result by the Mayo side. From the kick off Tuam looked sharper and in the opening five minutes had two chances to open the scoring with penalty kick opportunities when Ballina were penalised in the ruck twice, but Owen Cosgrove was unable to direct his efforts successfully. There was two areas in particular where Tuam had the upper hand, the first being the scrum where Ballina were under a lot of pressure on their own put in, and the other was at the breakdown where Tuam counter rucked successfully on more than one occasion as Ballina failed to commit enough people to the ruck, had poor body positions and failed to present the ball well. Finally the early pressure from the Galway men told and when Ballina were penalised for offside in the midfield defending a ruck outside their 22 Cosgrove was unerring with his strike and Tuam deservedly lead 3-0. Ballina had very little quality possession during the first half and rarely managed to build more than one phase of play.

They spent large periods of the half defending and did this quite well, but after a particularly big shove in the scrum from Tuam, Ballina again conceded a kickable penalty but again Cosgrove was wide. The pressure told again minutes later when Ballina were penalised on their 22 to the left of the posts for coming in from the side to a ruck and this time Cosgrove managed to squeeze the kick over the crossbar. Tuam now lead 6-0. Eventually Ballina put together a promising attacking movement as Conor Dever gathered and counter attacked linking up with Jerome Harrimate and Francis Conroy who brought play inside Tuam’s half.

Tuam were penalised when defending a ruck but Ballina Out Half Sam Johnson’s kick drifted wide. The home side were penalised once again when Ballina exerted pressure on the Galway men’s put in at the scrummage which allowed Scrum Half Michael Murphy to harass his opposite number with such ferocity that a combination of Phillip Timoney, Orrie Collins and Murphy forced Tuam back towards their 22 where they eventually conceded a penalty. Again Sam Johnson attempted the kick but was wide. Ballina put together some better play and looked more threatening for the remainder of the half but the score remained unchanged until half time. In the opening 20 minutes of the second half a lot happened which affected the Mayo men. Cory Brown came on for Conor Dever (who was now playing in the centre for Ballina) who was forced off with a very serious injury to his ankle and after a fracas when a Ballina player was raked on the ground at a ruck, Ballina Flanker Phillip Timoney was shown a red card reducing the visitors to 14.

Cosgrove attempted to convert the ensuing penalty but failed so the score remained unchanged. Remarkably it was then when they were under enormous pressure that Ballina scored one of the best try’s they’ve scored this season. In a lineout inside their 22 Richard Kelly found Stephen Dolan who set up a maul. Prop Paul Newell peeled off and broke away on a storming run before setting up a ruck inside Tuam’s half. The ball was quickly recycled and Sam Johnson made a break linking up with Conor Mason who carried the ball forward and managed a great offload out of the tackle to Jerome Harrimate. The ball was kept alive with some excellent interplay between forwards and backs and quickly produced ruck ball before great handling and support play eventually allowed the ball to be passed out to substitute Winger Robert Melody who raced in to touch down for the try wide on the left. Johnson was unable to add the conversion so the score was now 6-5. Ballina were right back in the game but were dealt a further blow when bizarrely Richard Kelly was sin binned after the Ballina hooker kicked ahead and was tackled late. It was going to be a struggle for Ballina with 13 versus 15 for the following 10 mins and not much longer left on the clock but Ballina did continue to press for another score. It was Sam Johnson for Ballina who had two drop goal and two penalty kick attempts in the time that was left, but he was unsuccessful with each effort some of which were from very ambitious ranges. Tuam had a player sin-binned themselves and Ballina had time to restore themselves to 14 men before time was up but they soon ran out of time and when the final whistle sounded the score was unchanged. Next week Ballina travel to Corinthians and will want to dig deep and produce a performance that will go some way towards atoning for this result.              

TUAM; Kevin Tighe, Owen Mallon, Diarmuid Blake, Killen McDonagh, Dave Lally, Owen Cosgrove, Robbie Kavanagh, Geroid Connolly, Cucal Dempsey, Steve Kavanagh, Barry Ruane, Alan Finnerty, Leon Mahon, Brian Ruane, Connor Hurst, Dave Noone, Paul Canovan, Andrew Antonis, Chris Madden, Nicky Brady.

BALLINA; Conor Dever, Francis Conroy, Francesco Lo Bartolo, Jerome Harrimate, Tyrone De Silva, Sam Johnson, Michael Murphy (C), Ciaran Melvin, Richard Kelly, Paul Newell, Stephen Dolan, Kieran Bourke, Orrie Collins, Phillip Timoney, Aidan McNulty, John Keaveney, Brendan Barrett, Conor Mason, Robert Melody, Cory Brown.

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