Ballina 35 Sundays Well 33
Unfortunately; the ‘Well came out the wrong side of a pulsating game in front of vocal support for both sides in North Mayo. Despite securing two bonus points; the result leaves the ‘Well in a difficult situation to avoid relegation, but the team showed immense spirit and fight. With two games remaining there is still hope and a chance and they will do everything in their power to make another miraculous recovery; starting next Friday night in a massive local derby against Midleton. It should be a momentous occasion and the players will be grateful to get the deserved support of every ‘Well person who can make it.
Ballina have moved on leaps and bounds from their previous encounter in Musgrave Park. That day; their desire to put width and run the ball didn’t transpire into tries; but they showed more invention; creativity and confidence with some beautiful passing movements exposing any space and contributing to their tally of five tries.
The ’Well though did counter with a high pressing defence and two of their own five tries came from smart intercepts by Shane Keevers and the impeccable Jack McHenry. The forward power game also proved a useful attacking tool with McHenry notching another try off a driving line-out while Kevin Holland and replacement Ross Taylor also powered their way over.
In the end; the difference ended up being the perfect kicking record of Darragh Whyte. While Jamie O’Leary narrowly missed the first conversion attempt for the ‘Well, he succeeded with the four other kicks and could not be faulted.
Ballina made the early running with a quick passing move setting up wing0forward Jordan Mills for a score. The ‘Well appeared to have responded when a smart tap penalty by Daniel Courtney caught out the Mayo side’s defence and he played in Conor O’Brien who touched down. However; the intervention of the touch-judge led to a call back for foul play from a couple of plays earlier; though no card was deemed worthy.
After this blow; Ballina went back on the offensive and the excellent Calum Quinn was pulling the strings at out-half. His moves helped put Liam Golden through. Jack McHenry was leading the ‘Well response; making strong hits, carrying powerfully and also putting through a couple of excellent kicks from open-field; as any team wants from their hooker.
His management of the line-out saw him touch-down after a quick driving maul. Indeed the ‘Well line-out was disrupting a lot of Ballina possession; with McHenry often managing to clean up possession at the back.
The ebb and flow of the game continued with Ian West helping the team from the west to a 21-5 lead. It looked like a distinct possibility that the hosts could pull away comfortably but the ‘Well kept battling and a mixture of braveness and good fortune by Shane Keevers saw him make a smart intercept when it looked like a score was going the other way. He raced up to touch down under the posts and just before half-time; Kevin Holland also managed to power his way over to reduce the arrears to two points.
The ‘Well; despite trailing had the momentum and Ross Taylor was making a big impact since coming on. A good patient build up saw him power over before McHenry’s intercept made it 28 points without reply for the ‘Well and put them 33-21 up.
Like the ‘Well; Ballina were never going to just lie down. They looked to spread the ball from wing to wing and poke halls. Whyte got in for a try to make it a one score game with ten minutes left. The ‘Well had several chances to clear but tiring legs and minds meant they couldn’t maintain control. It was an unfortunate time to go down to 14 men as well for a high tackle that both sides were regularly punished for. Eventually the home pressure told when orchestrator Callum Quinn sealed a victory for the home side as time had practically run out and the ‘Well couldn’t mount one more attack.
Scorers Ballina J Mills, L Golden I West, C Quinn tries; D Whyte try, 5 cons.
Sundays Well J McHenry (2), S Keevers, K Holland, R Taylor tries, J O’Leary 4 cons.
Ballina: Bradley Nealon; Laim Golden, Ian West, Ronan Molloy, Darragh Whyte; Calum Quinn, Barry Walsh; Brian Boland, Billy McVann, Gary Kavanagh; Aiden McNulty, Bradley O’Leary; Harry Regan, Jordan Mills, Luke Sweeney. Replacements: Shane Clarke, Sean Hopkins, Alex Corduff, Blyaze Molloy, Cian Quinn.
Sundays Well: Gary Downey; Shane Keevers, Eoin O’Sullivan, Jamie O’Leary, Kieran Maye; Harry McHenry, Daniel Courtney; Evan O’Connell, Jack McHenry, Mike McCarthy; Andrew Mintern, Kevin Holland; Cormac Kelliher, Dan O’Brien, Conor O’Brien. Replacements: Adam Browne, David Hourigan, Ross Taylor, John Costello, Ruairi Geary.