There was a great sense of pride around Heffernan Park this afternoon when our fine U18.5 team recorded a deserved win over a talented Galwegians team. This was as good a game of rugby as one is ever likely to see with free-flowing play coming off the back of hard-earned possession in a match where the performance of referee Shane McElwee added to the enjoyment.
Galwegians came to the banks of the Moy with an impressive reputation and demonstrated their potential early on as they led 12-0 in the 12th minute after two tries and one conversion.
Ballina soon settled to their task and in the 15th minute Brian Boland peeled off a maul to get the home side's opening try in the left corner and Craig McCormick kicked the conversion.
Craig's kicking prowess showed again in the 28th minute when he landed a penalty following great work from the pack. He did even better seven minutes later when converting a long-range beauty from the half-way line to give his side a 13-12 lead at the break.
Galwegians were a little disheartened at this stage as their excellent start had been wiped out by the half way mark. That trend continued early in the second half when Sean Treacy got over for a try in the left corner and Ballina were six clear, 18-12, but Galwegians refused to lay down and die.
The guests drove up the pitch and after mauling to a good position they were rewarded with their third try of the day. The conversion was added and Galwegians found themselves in front again, 19-18 with 25 minutes to play.
Ballina needed a response and got it when Craig landed a penalty before Billy McVann got over for a try after a succession of mauls and pick-and-go's. Craig kicked the conversion to leave the scoreboard reading 28-19 in Ballina's favour as the large attendance enjoyed the free-flowing spectacle being played out in front of them.
Ballina continued to work hard and the home side drove forward at every opportunity. This intensity of effort was rewarded with two converted tries in the closing minutes, with all 14 points coming courtesy of Craig McCormick.
First he touched down under the posts off the back of a maul and five minutes later he touched down again after outpacing everyone to his own kick-through to seal the deal for the home side at the end of a well-earned win.
BALLINA: William Stevens, Billy McVann, Brian Boland, Peter Maughan, Stephen Gibbons, Rian Donnellan Hegarty, Conor Boyce, Christopher Healy, Daniel Howley, Craig McCormick, Cian Egan, Niall McNulty, Oisin Rouse, Sean Treacy, Eoin Hallinan, Gerard McKenna, Niall Stokes, Cian Egan, Owen Pritchett