Balbriggan 24 v Mullingar 0
Balbriggan put in a fine performance on Sunday when they won their first round encounter at home against Mullingar in the IIXV Town’s Cup. The final score was 24 v 0.
Balbriggan played with the benefit of a stiff breeze in the first half but made that advantage pay with some early scores. Within 5 minutes of the start of the game Balbriggan were awarded a penalty kick at goal from outside the Mullingar 22 which scrum half Kyle Healy landed. This penalty followed a series of surging drives by the Balbriggan forwards who set down an early marker of the home side’s intent. Soon after this kick, Balbriggan added to their lead. More good work close in by the Balbriggan pack led to Balbriggan gaining a foothold in the Mullingar 22. The ball was then flashed out from a ruck and Healy, who impressed all afternoon, ran in for a try close to the left hand touch line. He added the conversion to his try and Balbriggan had a 10 v 0 lead with about 15 minutes of the game played. Balbriggan continued to dominate for much of the first half but credit must be given to Mullingar who worked hard to keep Balbriggan out from their line. Despite their best efforts however, Balbriggan added a further try before the half hour mark through skipper Ciaran Malone. Again, though the try was close to the left hand touch line, Healy landed another impressive kick to stretch Balbriggan into a 17 v 0 lead. Mullingar did not lie down however. They were soon to enjoy one of their best spells in the game when they gained a toe hold inside Balbriggan’s 22. Mullingar were awarded a number of kickable penalties, two at least directly in front of Balbriggan’s posts, but spurned the opportunity to kick at goal. Each time they opted for scrums in order to launch their loose forwards and centres at the Balbriggan defence. Balbriggan held out something that must have disheartened the midland men as they turned around at half time, 17 v 0 behind.
The second half was a more even contest with both sides enjoying spells of dominance. Balbriggan got off to a good start but early pressure did not result in any addition to the score board. Mullingar then had chances of their own and for a good 10 – 15 minute period in the second half they worked hard at testing the Balbriggan defence, coming very close on a couple of occasions to opening their account. Balbriggan held firm however and it was they that were to add the only further score in the match through a wonderfully worked try through Connor Burke, playing at inside centre for the afternoon. His try with the added conversion by Healy on about 25 minutes settled the result of the match, though Mullingar tried again and again to put a score on the board.
Balbriggan will be very satisfied with this result which came after a lay off of three weeks since their last match which was in the league. They face Division 1A Table toppers Enniscorthy away in the second round which is to be played on 13 March next. For now Balbriggan’s attention returns to the last two rounds of the League on 28 February and 6 March. Before that, they face North Meath at home Sunday next in the semi final of the Jenkinson Cup.