Ardee 10 Balbriggan 24
In a match played at a frenetic pace for the whole 80 minutes the Balbriggan experience eventually told and they squeezed out winners of the game. Whether the players thought if they played faster they would get to the Ireland game quicker they certainly kept going for the match. It was Ardee who were forcing the pace for the whole game and certainly the Balbriggan lads might be looking at their fitness levels. Ardee were down a number of players who were away in Cardiff enjoying the atmosphere but the youngsters who took their place really put it up to the Balbriggan boys who were showing off their new Retro 90 strip for the first time.
From the kick off Balbriggan looked to attack but Ardee robbed the ball and moved into the Balbriggan half only for the ball to be turned over and Balbriggan attacked again. This was the way the game moved forward and back over the first quarter with neither side making much inroads into the opposition 22. Balbriggan seemed to have cracked the Ardee defence when Mullen broke clear only to be caught and give away a penalty for holding on. While Ardee got a good touch, Connor Burke got one of his many line out steals and from the maul Dave Healy relieved the pressure. Sean Malone carried up the line and a quick kick ahead had Dave Healy chase and it looked as if he would get over in the corner but the ref judged that he had knocked on as he pushed the ball onto the whitewash. Ardee attacked up the line , Balbriggan were adjudged to go offside. Ardee kicked ahead and Steve keegan failed to collect and despite a tacke by Marcel Brennan Ardee got in to score.
Balbriggan from the re start got into good territory and a clever kick ahead got to touch. A good steal by skipper Malone saw him held up short of the line but brother Sean was on hand to crash over. Kyle Healy added the points with the kick shaving the right side of the upright.
Ardee nearly got in for a second score when the ref got in the Malone brothers way as they tried to tackle. A saving kick out by Conor Casey kept Balbriggan ahead as half time approached.
The second half got off to a good start, when Balbriggan took a line out and drove over with Malone junior picking up his second try which Healy converted. Connor Burke who was having a fine game on the open side came off the side of a maul to add the next score. There was some good running from the Balbriggan backs with Ian Murphy coming on at out half when Dave Healy had to go off after making a saving tackle. Ciaran Malone made a great catch in his 22 and managed to call a mark as he made a spectacular diving Save as Ardee continued to attack. Ardee eventually got their reward when the flashed the ball across the line for the winger to just get in at the corner despite a despairing tackle from the Balbriggan skipper.
As the game wound down Graham Dennis had a line out steal and the Balbriggan maul was off again and man of the match Sean Malone completed his hat trick.
A win, but a great performance from Ardee will give Balbriggan something to think about. Too many passes didn’t go to hand twice Kyle Healy should have put his outside backs away but once the pass was too hard and the next time too low. He was not the only back guilty of poor passes. In the pack Anto Whelan had another good game with good carries.
Next week Garda at home – with the Ireland match at 1pm the day and time have still to be confirmed.
M Brennan, S Keegan (D Staunton), J Mullen, K Verdon, D Healy, (I Murphy) K Healy, C Casey, A Whelan, J Davis, G O’Reilly (C McDonnell) G Dennis, M Geraghty, C Burke, S Malone, C Malone.