Creggs 3 Ballina 10
Ballina advanced to the semi-final of the Connacht Junior Cup following a closely contested match,played in extremely difficult conditions at The Green on Sunday. However,they endured a tough examination of their credentials before seeing off the robust challenge posed by a youthful Creggs team.Ballina’s greater experience and forward power proved decisive in closing out the game,with scrumhalf Micky Murphy,No.8 Aidan Mc Nulty and centre Michael Allen playing key roles in their victory.
The early exchanges were fast and furious,but Ballina edged ahead in the 16th minute when fullback Dara White landed a penalty goal when Creggs were adjudged to be offside at a ruck. The concession of penalties proved to be a major problem for Creggs in the first half,with the penalty count very much against the home team. Some of the decisions appeared harsh in the conditions.
Propforward Conor Mason scored a decisive try for Balllina in the 23rd minute when he availed of a rare mixup in the Creggs defence to power through the midfield for an impressive score,which Dara White converted to put Ballina 10-0 ahead.
The loss of the vastly experienced No. 8 Kevin Brandon through injury was another serious blow for Creggs, but they quickly regrouped to carry the fight to Ballina ,with outhalf Shane Dowd and Maurice Buckley to the fore. A penalty by Dowd shortly after halftime put the game back in the melting pot,and Creggs proceeded to play some stirring rugby in the worsening conditions ,but Ballina were strong and determined in defence and held out for a hard-earned victory.Creggs also had fine displays by the Callaghan brothers,Tom Oates and the excellent Ryan Horan,but each player gave his all in a gallant attempt to overturn a Ballina team,which is currently 2nd in League Division 1A .
Creggs are due to face NUIG in the Curley Cup semifinal next Sunday at The Green.
Creggs ; K Gavin,P Leech,B Egan,T Callaghan,R Horan,S Dowd,A Callaghan : T Fleming S Higgins A Leech, T Oates B Kilcommons,P Lohan,K Brandon,A Brandon,B Donoghue,N Walker,M Buckley,C Duignan,R Cassidy