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Ballinrobe moving on up


HIGH ACHIEVER Ballinrobe’s Dave Madden claims a line-out against the University of Galway during Sunday’s Connacht J1B League clash in Creggs. Pics: Mick Walsh


Ballinrobe  39
University of Galway  24
Rob Murphy

THE long wait is over, Ballinrobe are back in the top division of junior club rugby in Connacht after a superb display against the students of University of Galway in Sunday’s final on the 4G pitch of Creggs RFC.
Five tries and some brilliant goal-kicking saw the South Mayo men overwhelm their opponents in one of the all-time great performances from any team the club has produced over the last five decades.
One week on from losing a Junior Cup semi-final in heartbreaking fashion at the same venue to Creggs, Ballinrobe returned without their captain Micheál Walsh who was harshly suspended after that fixture. But they didn’t let that faze them as they produced a near-flawless display.
“It’s brilliant,” smiled Ballinrobe player-coach, Craig Hansberry afterwards.
“A different feeling after last week anyhow. We trained really well last week. We’ve worked hard over the two years to get here and be back in the top flight. Last year we probably put pressure on ourselves, this year we each focussed on our own roles and learned from that.”
Within ten minutes the winners had the game’s first try with Jack Ormsby showing once again why he is one of the best back row forwards at this level, barrelling over for the opening score which Evan O’Brien converted. The next 20 minutes were full of action; both teams had visits to the ‘22 that should have led to tries only for strong defending to prevail.
But Ballinrobe scored next; Hansberry this time getting the big score with a strong carry over the line. O’Brien converted but the drama had only started. Conal MacCurtha scored for the students before O’Brien kicked a penalty to make it 17-5 heading towards half-time.
The gap was down to just five points when Peter Magliocco powered over for the students, but Ballinrobe weren’t finished.
A superb restart from O’Brien was rewarded with an error and from the scrum, five metres out, Ballinrobe showed poise and vision to attack wide with Donal Vaughan’s long pass giving Liam Burke time to beat his man and score for a 22-12 half-time lead.
The second half was more cagey as the game really hung in the balance, but a sin-bin for College winger Sean Cullen proved key.
Ballinrobe had the skills and vision to take advantage a few minutes later with a stunning move that started deep inside their own half; Liam Burke broke and, with help from Steven Conroy, they were on the students ‘22.
Quick hands between forwards and backs kept the move going, with Chris McHugh and Hansberry involved, before Tom Staunton made a strong break. He was stopped short, but Ormsby powered over once more for try number four and a 29-12 lead after O’Brien’s conversion.
It was O’Brien who kickstarted the move that finished the game as a contest; his kick in open play from inside his own half was judged perfectly, bouncing once inside the opposition ‘22 and into touch giving Ballinrobe the line out under the new ’50-22’ law.
There was no holding back as two phases later, player coach Hansberry had his second try with O’Brien converting for a 36-12 lead.  
University of Galway built up a head of steam late to score two tries.
But the game was far out of reach for them at that point and O’Brien crowned a fine display with a brilliant kick from the touchline to round off the scoring from their point of view and seal the win, despite those late tries from college scrum-half Oisin Duff.
“We want to play a fast game, width to width, so the surface here in Creggs was great, it’s what we’re about. You see what it means to the region and the town, driving through the town during the week, flags out so much support, it’s brilliant for the club and everyone involved,” said Craig Hansberry.
No player let Ballinrobe down on the day.
The impact off the bench from the likes of Jamie Treacy and Cillian Walsh prime examples underlined as much, while Chris McHugh, Dave Madden, Jack Ormsby and Shane Biggins were among the names that didn’t make the scoresheet but did make the scores.
A day to remember for a club on an upward curve.

S Conroy; L Burke, T Staunton, S Biggins, K McAleenan; E O’Brien, D Vaughan; J McTigue, C McHugh, C Hansberry; D Madden, P Mylotte; J Ormsby, T Lynagh, R Murphy.
Replacements used: P Finlay, J Treacy, C Walsh, E Lynagh, J Burke.

University of Galway
O’Griofa; S Cullen, M Brandy, B Murphy; C Macuratha; S O’Grady, O Duff; L Melia, O Soden, P Smyth; T McCabe, F McCall; P Magliocco, D Robb, O Halpin.

Referee: M Enderhy (Leinster Branch)

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