Friday 25 May 2018

Molloy try claims cup triumph for Ballina

Ballina 20 Westport 15 Heineken Junior Cup

Ballina's full back Chris O'Neill tries to get past Westport's Liam Scahill during the Connacht junior Cup final at the Sportsground (Pic: Conor McKeown)
Ballina's full back Chris O'Neill tries to get past Westport's Liam Scahill during the Connacht junior Cup final at the Sportsground (Pic: Conor McKeown)
Ballina players past and present celebrate the Junior Cup win. From left: Conor Forde, Ciaran and Walter Rouse, JP Leonard, Alan Rowe and Peter Murphy (Pic: Conor McKeown)

A try from replacement Daniel Molloy proved the difference as Ballina got their hands on the Heineken Junior Cup.

Westport showed incredible character to tie things up at 15-15, having been 15 points down at the break, but their brave comeback attempt ultimately fell short of the mark.

Ballina got the scoreboard ticking after just nine minutes, when out-half Callum Quinn slotted a penalty kick.

Quick hands by the Ballina backs saw winger Ciaran Rouse tearing up the sideline and as he ran out of space, his deft chip infield found centre Michael Allen who gathered and dotted down under the posts. Quinn's conversion extended Ballina's lead to 10 points after 20 minutes of play.

Despite trailing, Westport enjoyed their fair share of possession in the first 30 minutes and out-half Sean Tobin caused problems for the Ballina defence with searing line-breaks and offloads. But Ballina's defensive efforts kept them at bay and, using the wind to great effect, they were able to keep Westport in their own half.

With five minutes to go in the first half, Ballina hammered the Westport defence and when Michael Allen linked with David Brunker the pacey winger stepped inside the covering tackle and scored a try out wide.

Quinn couldn't add the extras but Ballina were in a commanding 15-0 lead and were unlucky not to extend that when Quinn's long-range penalty attempt, the last kick of the half, dropped just short of the posts.

Westport got the first of the second-half points when, just three minutes after the restart, winger Kevin Corcoran crashed over in the corner. Tobin missed the difficult conversion, but four minutes later was adding the extras to another Corcoran try after the sizable winger picked off an interception on the halfway line to run in under the posts, bringing Westport to 12 points and trailing Ballina by just three.

The Bulls were enjoying a resurgence and their scrum was starting to dominate, giving Westport a decent platform deep in the Ballina half. And when the Ballina scrum wilted under pressure, Tobin slotted the penalty to level the game halfway through the second half.

Ballina responded well though and strong carries from Mickey Murphy, Callum Quinn and Chris O'Neill brought play deep into the Westport half. Quick recycling paved the way for replacement Molloy to crash over for Ballina's third try and they held on to claim an historic Heineken Junior Cup victory, winning by a score of 20 points to 15.

Westport - Matt Dempsey; Niall O'Malley, Brian Nevin, David O'Malley, Kevin Corcoran; Sean Tobin, Dylan Carpenter; Cormac Groden, Joe O'Connor, Mike Cronin; Chris Ryan (capt), Eddie Dunning; Conor Hastings, David Keane, Liam Scahill. Reps: Marek Palarmarzcuk, Mike Ryder, Kevin Gill, Adam Bourke, Eoin Joyce

Ballina - Chris O'Neill; Ciaran Rouse, Alex Corduff, Michael Allen, David Brunker; Callum Quinn, Mickey Murphy; Paul Newell, John Keaveney, Shane Clarke; Conor Forde (capt), Richard Morrow; Fergal Tully, Laurence Leonard, Aidan McNulty. Reps: Conor Mason, Richard Kelly, Daniel Molloy, Fionn Mulligan, Darragh Whyte.

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