Balbriggan 7 v Wexford 8
Photos kindly provided by Joe Curtis
Balbriggan just fell short in their quest for league honours in Balrothery on Sunday. While over the course of three games they scored 3 points more than Wexford; in the games that mattered fell short by a point.
Balbriggan kicked off and from the ensuing ruck won a penalty which Kyle Healy kicked to the corner, however Balbriggan were penalised at the maul and Wexford cleared their lines. For the first ten minutes Balbriggan were in the ascendency but the last pass was not going to hand and despite good breaks by J Mullen and Ciaran Verdon in the centre, they were met by a stout Wexford defence. Wexford did not get into the Balbriggan 22 until a mix up between the Balbriggan back three all trying to claim a high ball led to a knock on. Wexford capitalised on the error and pushed for the Balbriggan line. Balbriggan conceded a penalty on the 22 and this allowed Wexford to put the first points on the board. Balbriggan were unfortunate to lose skipper Malone to an injury and his leadership on the field was missed. Tom Hagan replaced the skipper but it led to a slightly unbalanced back row. Wexford had also done their homework and wheeled the Balbriggan scrum at every opportunity negating the Balbriggan advantage in this area. The referee was happy with the scrummaging even if it looked as if the wheel was being put on early.
Half time the three points was the only score. Balbriggan did their best to get back into the game but Wexford gave them very little opportunity to gain ground. Out half Ian Murphy eventually had to succumb to a wrist injury, sustained in his great defensive work. Coach Con Casey came on in his place and his experience gave a bit of order to the backs. However, it was Wexford who struck again when off a line out they exposed a gap in the 10/12 channel and scored under their posts. However their kicker had gone off and they missed the conversion. Still it was giving Balbriggan a high mountain to climb.
Skipper Malone returned to the field to give his men a boost. However a few minutes later J Mullen had to go off injured and Murphy returned to the fray. Balbriggan were starting to put some good moves together. Eventually a break up the wing by full back Stu Mullen and his interaction with Healy saw Balbriggan get close to the line. As Healy was taclked, Murphy following up got the ball over the line for a try. Kyle Healy made the conversion to leave a point between the teams. The clock however was Balbriggan’s greatest enemy and despite a couple more attacks Wexford held firm for a victory which should see the league title go to them though they have one match left in a month’s time.
A game played in great spirit and a pity that there had to be a loser. Wexford however seemed to have that bit better big day experience. A real learning curve for Balbriggan but they will be the better for it. Little consolation to the team but it adds to their experience. Next week sees cup rugby against Clondalkin.
Given where the Club were 3 1/2 years ago when they had to pull out of the Leinster League they should be very proud of what has been achieved. Then skipper now team manager, Ivan McFadden, started the rebuilding process assisted by coaches David O’Sullivan, Billy Phelan and Con Casey and this season Leigh O’Toole. However it is the players who have put in the effort this season to give the Club a successful return to the Leinster League.
S Mullen, T O’Toole, J Mullen, C Verdon, D Healy, I Murphy (C Casey) K Healy, P Joyce (A Kiernan) J Davis, C Mc Donald, M Geraghty (A Whelan) S Malone, D Bryan, M Fay, K Malone (T Hagan)