Connacht Under-16 Cup Final,
Creggs 10, Ballina 19.
In the Galway Sportsgrounds on Sunday last, Creggs Under-16s took on the Mayo rugby stronghold Ballina in what was to be an exciting encounter.
Creggs were fired up and wasted no time in putting their opponents under severe pressure in the opening minutes. Early carries from Ruairi O’Brien and Michael Hoey put Creggs on the front foot as they tested the Ballina pack. However, the pressure was relieved when Ballina were awarded a penalty and the chance to clear their lines.
Creggs were dealt a blow when Ballina out-half Harry West broke through the Creggs defence against the run of play and touched down in the corner for Ballina’s first score of the game. A missed conversion left just 5 between the sides as Creggs undeterred, came back at their opposition with full force.
Ballina dealt well with the drop off, introducing their strong ball carriers into the game. Excellent work from the likes of Jordan Kennedy and Aodán Kelly made life difficult for the Ballina pack.
However, the maroon defence were unable to stop a well worked move which saw another Ballina player get over the line for Ballina’s second of the game. The conversion stretched the Ballina’s lead to 12.
The Creggs side showed no signs of panic as they restarted the game swiftly. They were in a familiar situation and were not discouraged. The Ballina pack were hit hard by Creggs’ Shane Connaughton, Jordan Kennedy and Tyrese Etete which created fast turnover ball for the Creggs backs to make use of.
A chip kick from Mark Dowd along with an excellent chase by Edimar Filho pushed Ballina back onto their 5 metre line and under tremendous pressure, they were turned over. Creggs acted fast as Ciaran Purcell carried on the fringes of the ruck and dived over in the corner for a well-earned try on the stroke of half time. the score at the break was Creggs 5, Ballina 12.
The second half began with Creggs dropping off with the wind at their backs. It was going to be a thrilling second half. Creggs centres David Gacquin and Aodhan Looby stopped the Ballina backline in their tracks as well as forwards like Anthony Gorman and Michael Hoey who made ferocious tackles throughout. Matthew Ryan and Mark Kilcommons were positioned perfectly in the backfield, dealing well with Ballina’s kicking game.
When Ballina took a quick-tap penalty 10m from the Creggs tryline they looked unstoppable and despite courageous defending from the likes of Darren Gately, they managed to get over the line.
The introduction of Eoin Kely and James Murray brought energy to the Creggs team who began to take the game to Ballina in a valiant attempt to score. The men in maroon were awarded penalty after penalty on their way to the line forcing their way through the Ballina defence. Eventually, Matthew Ryan got over in the corner, making it 19-10 to Ballina after a failed conversion attempt.
Eventually, the final whistle sounded and Creggs, despite their gallant performance, had come up just short at the end of a good season.
Creggs Rugby: Anthony Gorman, Michael Hoey, Ruairi O’Brien, Aodhán Kelly, Jordan Kennedy, Ciaran Purcell, Tyrece Etete, Shane Connaughton, Mark Dowd, Darren Gately,
Matthew Ryan, David Gacquin, Aodhán Looby, Edimar Filhmo, Mark Kilcommons, Eoin Kelly, James Murray, Luke Gregory, Tomas Tiernan, Dara Hughes, Evan Smyth, Ruairi Tiernan, Lee Kilcoyne, Frankie Quinn, Sean O’Rourke, Luke Butt, and Robert Colleran.