Connacht Junior League

Westport  7

Ballina  3

(Carrowholy, Westport)


Seven points from veteran Westport outhalf Eddie Walsh secured victory for his side last Sunday, a match the hosts looked unlikely to win throughout.

Ballina will rue the many missed chances to put points on the board in the first half and the naivety they displayed in the second half which ultimately allowed Westport take the lead in a game which for the most part they struggled to compete in. Ballina started well and all the pressure was on the home side as Ballina dominated up front in both scrum and lineout. David Rowe, Rodney O’Donnell and Alex Lee in the front row were in control at scrum time giving number 8 Aidan McNulty and scrum half Michael Murphy a good platform from which to launch Ballina’s attacking play. In the lineout Rodney O’Donnell found Connor Forde and Orrie Collins without error so this also proved to be a good source of possession for the visitors.

Michael Murphy orchestrated play for Ballina who looked to move the ball wide where centre Jerome Harrimate and winger Trevor Moore caused problems for the Westport defense. The pressure eventually yielded points 10minutes in when Westport were penalized for handling the ball in the ruck following good driving play by Ballina after securing ball in the lineout. Alex Lee and David Rowe had carried the ball well for Ballina and flanker Orrie Collins was always on hand to ensure continuity prevailed. Ballina outhalf Francis Conroy’s success with the shot gave Ballina a 3-0 lead. It looked likely they would build on this lead when Aidan McNulty broke from a scrum close to the right touchline and set up a ruck just inside Ballinas half. Michael Murphy broke down the blindside and fed Trevor Moore who showed great pace before passing back to Murphy as he drew the cover. Murphy raced over the line but was held up unable to ground the ball, denied by Westport fullback Kevin Corcoran.

Ballina kept the pressure on and Westport found it difficult to break out of their half. When they sought to clear their lines with relieving kicks Ballinas back three of Niall OMalley, Trevor Moore and Robert Melody gathered with confidence and ran back at their opponents.

Ballina had several clear chances that were undone by handling errors during this period but they seem certain to score when in an attacking ploy that mirrored Trevor Moores great run Aidan McNulty picked from the base of a scrum close to the left touchline and made good ground before Murphy whipped the ball out to Niall OMalley on the blindside. The Ballina winger appeared to have the Westport line at his mercy but another stunner from Kevin Corcoran on the line again kept him out. Next chance for Ballina was also from a scrum, this time inside Westport’s 22. McNulty picked and drove, drawing defenders before passing to centre Michael Allen who was once again held up over the line by despairing Westport tacklers.

Ballina’s greatest concern was their failure to convert territory andpossession to points. Westport did have periods of possession themselves and got a foothold in Ballinas half after a series of penalties conceded by the North Mayo side largely for infringements at the breakdown. Corcoran proved an elusive runner from deep and kept his side going forward with a number of great runs as did centre Eoin Joyce, while number-eight Peter Corcoran worked hard carrying the ball up front.

Ballina generally coped well in defense however, with some great tackles from Alex Lee and Michael Allen in particular. When Ballina were penalised for handling the ball in the ruck Eddie Walsh had a chance to level the scores, but his effort drifted wide. Ballina were soon on the attack again and when Connor Forde won a lineout ball on Westports throw in five meters from the home sides line it looked ominous for the Covies. Jerome Harrimate, Aidan McNulty and Rodney ODonnell all carried the ball with purpose but Ballina knocked the ball on with a two man overlap threatening the line and Westport were only 3-0 down when the half time whistle sounded. Ballina resumed play with Richard Kelly replacing Rodney ODonnell at hooker and Kevin McCarron coming on for winger Niall OMalley.

Six minutes into the half the first chance to put points on the board fell to Francis Conroy when Ballina won a penalty for Westport slowing down the ball coming back in a ruck. Conroys effort drifted wide however, so the score remained unchanged. Ballina were no longer as secure in winning their own lineout ball as they had been in the first half although their scrum remained solid even after Alex Lee was forced off with an injury, forcing a reshuffle of the pack, as Donal Gillivary came on to play in the second row with Mark Healy moving up to tighthead prop. Westport had more of the ball but still couldnt unlock the Ballina defense. Ballina were hemorrhaging a lot of penalties, and this combined with some very naïve play, where they tried to run the ball from inside their own 22 when it would surely have been more prudent to kick for position in Westports half. This ill-advised play was compounded by poor ball handling and forced 50/50 off-loading which often didnt come off, kept Westport very much in the game with a growing sense of confidence. Stephen Dolan replaced flanker Liam Lynch and Cormac Quinn replaced Michael Allen in the centre for Ballina as the visitors sought to get fresh legs on the field but after a brace of penalties took Westport right up to Ballinas line it was they who took the lead with fifteen minutes to go. From a line out Westport mauled right up to the line and although Ballina repelled drive after drive on the line eventually Eddie Walsh drove over in the corner for a try. He showed great composure to add the conversion from the touchline to give his side a 7-3 lead. Ballina spent the remaining fifteen minutes of the half on the attack and now it was Westport who conceded the penalties as the pressure told. Ballina brought play right up to Westport’s line but time after time were ultimately undone with poor execution when they had the Covies on the rack.

Westport held out for a great victory, Ballina forced to negotiate several regrets en route home: a lesson (or three) learned.


WESTPORT: Kevin Corcoran, Mark Gillam, Eoin Joyce, Brian ODonnell, Jens Helbert, Eddie Walsh, Paul Jennings, Marek Palamarczuk, Hugh O’Malley, Matt Walsh, Tom Dever, Dave Conway, Chris Ryan, Christy Dyra, Peter Corcoran, Martyn Kennedy, Mick Cronin, Nick ONeill, Martin Marrick, Tom Elward.

BALLINA: Robert Melody, Trevor Moore, Jerome Harrimate, Michael Allen, Niall OMalley, Francis Conroy, Michael Murphy, David Rowe, Rodney ODonnell, Alex Lee, Mark Healy, Connor Forde, Liam Lynch, Orrie Collins, Aidan McNulty, Richard Kelly, Donal Gillivary, Stephen Dolan, Kevin McCarron, Cormac Quinn.

REFEREE: Daithi Flood. 



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