- Result: Galwegians Firsts 36 - Ballina 12
- Venue: Crowley Park on Sat Nov 16th 2019
- Competition: AIL Division 2B
Galwegians secured a second consecutive bonus point win at home when they ran out comfortable winners over bottom-of-the-table Ballina in Round 6 of the Energia AIL Division 2B at Crowley Park on Saturday.
Fresh from their strong performance the previous week against Malahide, Wegians came into this game in confident mood and they soon started to assert themselves in proceedings, opening the scoring after only five minutes. It came following a solid set-piece, and when the ball was put through the hands out wide, winger Hugh Lane found himself in space. He fed Diarmuid Kilgallen on his inside shoulder and the outside centre had a clear run to dot down under the posts, giving Ewan Strang an easy conversion.
The visitors from North Mayo have struggled in their first season in 2B, and although they have a strong scrum, they were matched upfront by the Blues who were holding their own in the set-piece. This gave them the platform to continue to attack out wide, and by the fifteenth minute they doubled their lead with a second converted try. This time it was a midfield break by Mikey O’Donnell, who had the patience and vision to look inside, where he found inside centre Danny Faulkner who took the scoring pass.
14-0 down, Ballina had a lot to do, but credit to the visitors who stuck to their guns. They used their big pack at every opportunity, especially as Wegians lost their captain and talisman Marty Cummins to injury before the end of the first quarter. After a period of sustained pressure and penalty scrums, Ballina got back into the game with their opening try in the 26th minute, when flanker Fergal Tully rounded off a series of pick and goes by crossing towards the left. Out-half Dylan Prendergast added the extras to reduce the margin to 14-7.
However this was as good as it got for the visitors as the Blues started to re-assert themselves. An excellent lineout manual marched full 25 metres towards the visitors line, only for the ball to be ripped by the defending pack. However the hosts looked threatening in the backline every time they won possession, and they soon got try number three. This time it came from a run from deep by full-back Conor O’Shaughnessy, who fainted to chip but instead cleverly ran through a gap before feeding Strang on the outside, who sped down the left touchline to cross near the corner-flag for an unconverted try. The Blues continued to dominate and the game was effectively ended on the stroke of half-time when a lineout maul was finished off by the impressive prop Ryan Lomas, giving his side a 24-7 advantage at the break.
Wegians coach Andrew Browne will have been impressed that his side didn’t take their foot off the gas in the second-half, as they continued their dominance. They should have added a fifth try in the 45th minute, only for substitute Ronan Moore to knock on with the line at his mercy. However the flanker redeemed himself minutes later when he made a dart for the line and fed the hugely impressive no. 8 Kieran Downey who dived over near the right.
To their credit the visitors never gave up, but they could find no way past a determined Wegians defence who held a firm line. It was no surprise when the Blues added a sixth try with five minutes remaining. Again it came from some slick backline play, when Faulkner threw a delightful back door pass to winger Sanz Sibande, whose speed left the cover for dead as he dived under the posts for his fourth try of the AIL campaign.
Ballina did get some late reward for their toil with a consolation try from sub forward Mar Walker off a quickly taken lineout. However there was no denying the visitors were emphatic winners of this contest. So two back to back wins sees Wegians now sitting comfortably in fifth place in mid-table.
This game served as an AIL and Connacht Senior Cup double-header, and as a result, Wegians next game is the Connacht Senior Cup semi-final at home to Sligo this Saturday 23rd November. Their next AIL clash will be away to struggling Dungannon on Saturday week (30th November).