Towards a century at the heart of Connacht rugby

Mens Firsts 29 – Ballina 16


Match Result

  • Result: Galwegians Firsts 29 - Ballina 16
  • Venue: Ballina RFC on Sat Jan 13th 2024
  • Competition: AIL Division 2C

Match Report

Galwegians return after the new year with another victory in the AIL over Ballina RFC, completing the double in the Connacht derby with a 29-16 win away from home, cementing their status as league leaders for the week.

After going top of the table in the reverse fixture back in December, the pressure was on with Clogher Valley and Enniscorthy hot on the heels of the Blues. With Ballina at the opposite end of the table, they needed to start building some momentum if they wanted to keep their AIL status intact.

Galwegians made five changes to the matchday squad with Oisin Halpin, Jesse Va’asfusuaga and Eoin Tarmey returning as forwards with Cian Brady playing at full back and Ireland U20s Finn Tracey starting at centre.

Galwegians were dangerous from the outset and were glued to Ballina’s 22 for the first quarter of the game. With many opportunities to take the lead in the opening minutes of the game, their patience was finally rewarded in the 12th minute as Jack Winters opened the scoring with the first try.

A superb 50-22 downfield from Tiarnan Neville earned Wegians a lineout. Playing the ball out wide, Garyn Daniel and Jack Winter linked up with a quick one-two sequence to open the floodgates and Winters got over and added to his tally for the season.

Galwegians continued to dominate possession inside the 22 but had nothing to show for their efforts in the first half. Jesse Va’asfusuaga appeared to have grounded the ball but his attempt was annulled for a double movement at the tryline. Winters found himself close for his second of the afternoon but was held up on the line.

Ballina lacked attacking ambition in the first half, struggling to get a sniff inside Galwegians 22 for the majority of the half. But they would find a score before half-time with Cody Chilcott kicking it between the posts to bring it to 7-3 at the break.

Ballina would tighten the margin with another penalty three minutes into the second half with Chilcott again striking from the tee, to make it a one-point game. There were concerns that Wegians’ failure to capitalise on their chances early on may cost them dearly.

They put those fears to bed though just a minute after the restart. Winning a lineout outside the 22, Finn Tracey burst through the Ballina line of defence to find himself a few metres away before offloading to Ryan Roache for his first senior AIL try. Another strong conversion from Neville gave Wegians a 14-6 lead.

Ballina didn’t give in and responded emphatically with a try of their own. In similar fashion to Wegians’ try, they played the ball wide and winger Bradley Nealon broke away on the left and didn’t need the support on his right to finish and touched down to make it a three-point game.

The game was on a knife edge but Galwegians still looked favourites and a third try extended their advantage in the 56th minute. Liam Angermann burst through the middle of the pitch and broke for thirty metres before finding Andrew Sherlock on his left and went under the posts to score the third try for the Blues. Neville was as clinical as ever and extended the scoreline to 21-11.

Once again Ballina responded well, with another try just five minutes later. A series of passages inside the 22 came good for the county Mayo side and it was Harry Regan who scrambled over the line. Another missed conversion meant that the score remained at a five-point gap.

With the score at 21-16 to Wegians, a penalty would give the Blues some breathing room. When Neville was given the chance 12 minutes from time, he stepped up and delivered and made it 24-16. The clock was ticking for both sides with a try for either side could provide them with a vital bonus point.

Garyn Daniel would then seal the victory with the all-important bonus point try. Another lineout from five metres out created a maul and the forwards surged forwards to get over for the final score of the afternoon.

Galwegians’ eighth victory of the AIL season, only level with second-placed Clogher Valley with the number of wins. The bonus point proved to be pivotal as the gap between the two sides remains at two points.

Galwegians return to Crowley Park next Saturday to take on Omagh Academicals.



C Brady, J Munn, F Tracey, R Deacy, O McKey, A Sherlock, T Neville, J Winters, R Smith, G Daniel, R Holian, E Tarmey, O Halpin, J Va’asfusuaga, L Angermann. Substitutes: E Ferry, D Keane, H Gens, C Farrell, R Roache, J Quinn, B Donnelly.

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