Match Report

Sunday’s Well 27 Ballina 9  

Finally getting to play on home soil; Sunday’s Well bought plenty of cheer and joy to the home supporters with an emphatic bonus-point victory over their Mayo opponents. It was the first meeting of the clubs since Ballina’s return to the senior ranks and the ‘Well produced a great response to their previous defeat in Midleton. 

It was a powerful and well executed all-round game that laid the platform for their victory in difficult conditions. The big forwards were making big carries around the tight to get on the front foot, with Reece Mintern and Finn Macfhlannchadha making strong surges around the fringes. Fabien Loughrey, who had a magnificent game and was probably the star man controlling the tempo alongside Ruairi Geary outside him. In the backs, there were some great breaks and finishing touches with Shane Keevers and Ryan O’Donoghue-Kelleher making plenty of nice moves on the wing. 

The scrum and line-out provided a solid platform for attacks, while the defensive line-out regularly disrupted Ballina possession, with John Costello and Conor O’Brien dominating the competitions in the air. On the other side of the ball; the defence was aggressive and firm throughout, keeping the visitors try-less and regularly seeking turnovers to create counter-attacking situations. 

There was a strong wind down towards the Dolphin end, which the ‘Well enjoyed the advantage of in the first-half. They built up territorial dominance with Keevvers, Gary Downey and Maurice Daly making some strong runs. Daly set-up Keevers for the ‘Well’s first notable attack. It set up field position, with Ballina conceding a series of penalties culminating in a yellow card for their wing-forward Cian Boyce. Loughrey initiated an attack and with the visitors a man down they exposed the space out wide with Gary Downey putting Maurice Daly through.

Ballina earned a penalty off the re-start that Ben Matheson slotted over. Having faced a yellow-card and playing into the wind; they would have been reasonably happy to be 7-3 down. 

The ‘Well knew they needed another score before the turn-around and Denis Hurley almost set up Daly with a cleverly weighted kick that just snuck into touch before Daly could reach it. From the line-out deep in their 22 Balline couldn’t gain clean possession and with the ball bouncing up; Evan O’Connell pounced, not only gathering the greasy ball cleanly but surging powerfully forward to crash over the line. Loughrey added the conversion and the 14-3 half-time score gave the ‘Well a bit more breathing space. 

Playing into the wind; the ‘Well had to absorb a lot of pressure early on in the second-half. Ballina produced some enterprising backline moves but the ‘Well were able to plug any gaps in their defensive line. Ballina were able to garner a few penalties and a pair of Matheson kicks reduced the gap to 14-9 on the hour mark; with the tide slowly turning in Ballina’s favor.    

From the kick-off; which was low and drilled by Geary; almost akin to an NFL onside kick; the ball bounced back to the ‘Well side. Finally gathering possession in the opponents half; they powered down the field, earning a scrum that then resulted in a penalty. The ball was kicked to the corner with O’Brien securing possession and the ‘Well produced a strong maul. Another penalty was awarded but this time the ball was spread out with Loughrey and O’Connell almost scoring. Retaining possession; the ball went out wide-right with a bobbling pass juggled by Ryan O’Donoghue-Kelleher. He showed great concentration not only to secure possession but dance around a couple of tackles to finish off the move like the clinical winger he is. 

This score buoyed the ‘Well who went on the attack to seek the bonus-point as the wind died down. A great flowing move fittingly culminated in Loughrey surging over the line to secure the bonus point and he added a late penalty to seal the win. 

Scorers: Sunday’s Well: F Loughrey try, pen, 2 cons; M Daly, E O’Connell, R O’Donoghue-Kelleher tries. 

Ballina:  B Matheson 3 pens.

Sunday’s Well: G Downey; S Keevers, M Daly, D Hurley, R O’Donoghue-Kelleher; R Geary, F Loughrey; E O’Connell, J McHenry, M McCarthy; J Costello, R Mintern; F MacFhlannchadha, A Mintern, C O’Brien (c). Replacements: K Lannen, C Axson, D Hourigan, A Lane, J Featherstone. 

Ballina: D Whyte; I West, Callum Quinn (c), R Molloy, B Neelon; B Matheson, N Keane; E Creaven, B Boland, G Kavanagh; T Hannigan, A Ruane; C Boyce, B McVann, S Hopkins. Replacements: Cian Quinn, A McNulty, S Murphy, M Healy, C Kelly. 

Referee: J Flynn (IRFU)

Match Report supplied!!!!

photos curtesy C Donnellan

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