Connaught Junior League
Ballinrobe 16, Creggs 15.
A game that had begun so promisingly for Creggs ultimately yielded only a losing bonus point as the team suffered its first setback since the League opener back in September. This result reduces Creggs lead at the top of the table to just 2 points over second placed Castlebar. However with Castlebar due to play third placed Tuam in Tuam on Saturday night, Creggs title aspirations should remain on track if they win their last two games beginning with the visit of NUIG to the Green in Creggs this Sunday.
The opening quarter in Ballinrobe gave little hint of what was to come, Creggs began impressively, putting the home side under pressure from the kick-off and within 10 minutes were 10 points to the good, thanks to a Mark Brandon penalty and a try from Tom Fleming under the posts converted by Brandon.
Shortly after that James Brandon crossed near the posts but the referee adjudged a forward pass earlier in the move and Ballinrobe, boosted by that let-off, clawed their way back into the game, helped in no small measure by an uncharacteristic sequence of handling errors by Creggs who were finding it increasingly difficult to deal with their opponents aggressive and highly disciplined defensive strategy.
Creggs tried vainly to break through the midfield channels and the momentum swung in favour of Ballinrobe with out-half Daniel Keane landing a penalty on the half hour and just before half time a rare defensive lapse by Creggs allowed centre Paul Staunton to glide through for a relatively easy try converted by Keane to leave the sides tied at the interval.
Ballinrobe began impressively in the second half, with Keane landing a second penalty shortly after the re-start but Creggs hit back with a fine try from right-winger Ryan Horan to leave his team narrowly in front as the game entered its final quarter.
It was increasingly evident that the margin calls were going Ballinrobe’s way and when Creggs were penalised and sin-binned for a hotly disputed late tackle, Keane availed of the opportunity to land his third penalty,
Creggs pressed frantically in the final stages and missed a kickable penalty but the final play saw Creggs spilling the ball in the tackle which summed up a bad day at the office.
This was compounded by a couple of injuries with Shane Purcell definitely ruled out for the remaining two League games. We wish him a speedy recovery. Training continues on Tuesday and Friday nights.
Creggs Rugby: Shane Purcell, Elliot Jennings, Kevin Gavin, Tom Callaghan, Chris Duignan, Mark Brandon, Andrew Callaghan, Tom Fleming, Sean O’Higgins, Aidan Leech, Brian Donoghue, Kevin Brandon, Ronan Cahill, Alan Brandon, James Brandon, Mike Blighe, Maurice Buckley, Peter Lohan, Ryan Horan, Michael Holland.