Sligo 0 :: Ballina 0
Sligo and Ballina played out a scoreless draw in last Sunday’s Connacht Junior 1 League tie at Heffernan Park, Ballina on Sunday last. In a game which never really came to life, a draw was probably a fair result, as both backlines failed to sparkle.
Sligo will derive more satisfaction from the result than their opponents, as the two league points gained, assures them of a place in the draw for next season’s AIB Junior Cup, while Ballina needed a win here, as well as victory in their upcoming final game with Ballinasloe to qualify for inclusion in the draw. Although Ballina had the advantage of the strong wind in the first half, it was Sligo who were the more impressive performers in the opening period. They nearly scored after 4 minutes, when left winger, Julian Rippon intercepted on half way and looked destined to score but was stopped by a fine covering tackle from centre, David Newman, five metres from the line.
Sligo monopolised the early possession,but apart from a good break from wing forward,Andrew Williams,they never threatened the defence.They had a great chance of breaking the deadlock in first half injury time.As Sligo threatened the Ballina line,second row,Daniel Carrabine was yellow-carded by referee,Noel Crowley for killing the ball.Sligo kicked the resultant penalty to the corner,but with a try imminent from a catch and maul against a depleted home pack,Ballina’s Philip Timoney stole the ball from Ross Mannion’s throw,and saved the day for his side.
Despite being favoured by the wind in the second half,Sligo made fewer incursions into Ballina territory.However,while Ballina were getting a lot of possession,their predictable running lines were well contained by Sligo.When team captain,Peter Mullan was sinbinned midway through the half,it looked ominous for Sligo,as the referee also awarded a penalty,40 metres from the posts,but to the relief of Sligo’s supporters,Ballina’s Easkey born full-back,Simon Wade was short with the kick.In Mullan’s absence,Ballina put pressure on both Sligo’s line-outs and scrums,but the defence held firm.Neither side,on the day,had a line breaker with the necessary pace to make the crucial incision,as the respective defences remained in control.
For Sligo, Andrew Williams at blind side was his team’s best performer. He tackled well,and was an effective ball carrier, while he stole some vital Ballina ball at the tail of the line-out. Elsewhere, David Gerrity gave another faultless display at full-back, while Julian Rippon on the left wing saw plenty of action, and cut out some dangerous attacks. Sligo’s scrum was always going forward, and while the line-out disrupted the Ballina hooker’s throws almost at will, they proceeded to turn over no fewer than seven of their own throw-ins, and this inconsistency almost proved to be their team’s undoing.
Sligo will be hoping for an improved display when they face Corrib in the opening round of the Cawley Cup on Sunday week in Hamilton Park.
Sligo: D. Gerrity, A. Feeney, C. Culhane, G. Foley, J. Rippon, R. Burrows, B. Leahy, R. Gillespie, R. Mannion, J. Kelly, A. McHale, P. Mullan [c.], A. Williams, J. Livingstone, G. Conneally. Subs: M. Feeney for J. Kelly, [Not Used: S. Connolly, A. Tansey]
Ballina: S. Wade, P. Hackett, D. Newman, I. Thornton, R. Killeen, A. Moynihan, M. Murphy, A. Brown, R. Kelly, K. Flannery, D. Murphy, D. Carrabine, C. Forde, A. McNulty, P. Timoney. Subs: [All Used] M. Clarke, W. O’Connor, C. Melvin.