DRIVING FORCE Ballina’s Richard Morrow, who scored a try in the semi-final, powers through the Galwegians’ defence during that game at Heffernan Park. Pic: Corinne Beattie Photography
Bulls to win a tight battle
WHATEVER the outcome on Sunday next, a famous piece of silverware will reside in County Mayo for the next 12 months, as Ballina and Westport go head to head in the 2016 Connacht Heineken Junior Cup final.
These two great rivals make up a novel pairing for this year’s decider, as it is the first time ever we will see an all-Mayo decider.
Down through the years, when Ballina plied their trade in the All-Ireland League, the clubs would have had a great relationship, with some Westport players lining out in the green of Ballina. Current Bulls coach, JP Walsh, was one such player who had dual status with both clubs for a spell – not simple for a back-row forward!
This cup final is sure to be an emotionally charged affair for the Bulls, following the tragic death in Australia of former star player, Kevin Moran. Our deepest sympathies are with his family, friends and club-mates at this time.
The two teams are very evenly matched, and after a gruelling league campaign, the Bulls came out on top of the pile, and Ballina in second place. They were, by some distance, the best two teams in the league, and have carried that form in to their respective cup campaigns.
Westport disposed of their opposition in this year’s cup without barely breaking a sweat. Victories over Dunmore, NUIG and Tuam by nine, 16 and 30 points respectively saw them win games which they controlled for large periods. All three games were in Carrowholly.
Kevin Hastings has been to the fore for the Bulls this season. The openside put in a magnificent shift in last year’s final before being forced off injured. He will be chomping at the bit to stamp his authority on this year’s match. But apart from Hastings, they have class all over the field in Chris Ryan, Liam Scahill, Dylan Carpenter, Seán Tobin and Kevin Corcoran.
Having got a walkover against Ballyhaunis, Ballina had a tight enough battle away to Creggs, which they won by seven, before demolishing Galwegians in the semi-final by 34 points to 13. Led by their talismen, Mickey Murphy and Aidan McNulty, they are enjoying a rich vein of form. Richard Morrow has been brilliant of late in the second row and a they have a dangerous midfield combination in Mick Allen and former Mayo minor footballer, Alex Corduff. And of course watch for Calum Quinn, the out-half who bagged a brace of tries in the semi-final.
Expect a battle. Expect it to be tight. We’ll go for a Westport win, just!