Ballinasloe travelled to Westport on Sunday for this Junior 1A league encounter,with a much depleted squad, to take on the local Bulls in their own field. Shorn of the services of seven regulars from the outset, they came away with a highly credible win after a fair old battle in Carrowholly.

The locals would have been strong favourites prior to kick off but the visitors found a strong resolve in adversity. They produced a great team effort, full of heart, character and resilience to produce a deserved win that saw them move above their opponents in the league table.

Ballinasloe did their scoring in the opening period and stoutly survived a second half fight back to record their first away win of the season. The victory was all the more noteworthy considering  they played seventeen minutes of the second half with 14 players following two yellow cards being flashed in their direction.

The visitors went ahead in the opening minutes. Jamie Kelly did well to turn over Westport ball and when they did not roll away after the tackle Keelan O’Neill slotted the resultant penalty. Ballinasloe were playing the more forceful rugby in the early stages and were full value for a six point lead by the fifteenth minute as O’Neill landed his second penalty after Westport were caught off side at a ruck.

The hosts were the more physically imposing side but found it difficult to take advantage of their greater strength though their experienced No.8, Liam Skehill, did punch holes in the visitors defence at times. However, his colleagues generally seemed to lack the same drive. Ballinasloe, in contrast,  looked the hungrier side and were more ambituous in attack. And they demonstrated these facets in the twenty eighth minute. Prop, Tommy Dolan, securely took a garryowen before laying the ball off to his fellow prop, J.J. Carey, who set up Conal Gormley for a forty metre dash to the line for a fine try. The conversion did not enhance the scoreboard.

It could well have been game, set and match to Ballinasloe five minutes later when Conor Johnston made a clever interception but unfortunately for him he knocked the ball on as he was just about to take off for the sticks and Westport were still in the game at 11-0 down. They did lift their game before the break and put some pressure on the visitors inside their 22 metre line. Indeed they spurned a kickable penalty in favour of a kick to the corner in the dying minutes of the half and while working their way close to the line from the lineout, they could not  get over for a confidence boosting try before the break.

Westport came out firing for the second period. They realised that the game was passing them by and early scores were vital. Ballinasloe were under the cosh but they did not buckle. When John Salmon looked like getting in at the corner for Westport, a fine last ditch tackle by Andrew  Mannion saw him into touch. The locals did eventually open their account after fifty minutes when Sean Tobin kicked a thirty five metre penalty. They pressed on and went through the phases but openings were hard to come by.

The visitors’ Robbie Wakefield was yellow  carded in the fifty eighth minute and  Westport took advantage of the extra player through a Kevin Corcoran try minutes later. The conversion was missed . At 11-8 down, Ballinaslo were under real pressure but they remained focused and held their structure. They introduced fresh legs with John Hayes and Ross Keller entering the fray and they steadied the ship sufficiently enough for Ballinasloe to play some rugby inside their opponents half. Their game management denied Westport building up any late momentum. Niall Staunton bade farewell to the action in the seventy third minute when he was yellow carded but the visitors more than held their own in the final stages as the intensity ebbed from the game. Westport had a chance to level the contest late on when a long distance penalty was close yet did not make it over and Ballinasloe held out to pull off a big win in their season.                                                                                                                                                             BALLINASLOE: A.Mannion, C.Gormley, C.Johnston, R.Cullinan, D.Freeman, K.O’Neill, J.Kelly, J.J.Carey, A.O’Hara, T.Dolan, N.Staunton, H.Reynolds, K.Headd(capt), R.Wakefield, A.Loughrey. Replacements: G.Donnellan, J.Hayes, J.Curley, R.Keller, R.Sheppard.

Under Age Activity.                                                                                                                                         It was a busy week-end for youth and ladies rugby at the club. The U18s had a big league win over Ballina at home. The U16s had a worthwhile try out as they overcame Nenagh in a friendly. The U15s were unfortunate to loose out in their fixture while the U12s defeated a strong Corinthians team 24-7 in an away league game, having led 19pts to nin at half time.                     The ladies were also out with the U15s and U18s travelling to Westport for blitz competitions.

The first team are at home to Galweigans in the league next Sunday. Kick off at Graigueawoneen is at 2.30pm                                                                                                                     


Gallery: HT minis – Ballinrobe, Ballyhaunis, Corinthians and Dunmore