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McGee Cup Final 28/04/24

Ardee  22             Balbriggan 20

Commiserations to the IIXV on a narrow defeat to Ardee in the McGee Cup Final on Sunday.   In a match that could have gone either way it was Ardee who snatched it in the end.   Ardee were the first team on the score board with a penalty early on, only for Andrew Brown to equalise quickly.  Balbriggan had a try marked off when the grounding was not controlled but they went ahead when a well worked back move put Jimmy McFadden in the corner with Brown adding the extras.  For most of the first half Balbriggan held on but there were too many mistakes which reflected a team not playing together too often.  Ardee the put on the pressure and this paid off with a try in the opposite corner which they converted to leave honours even at half time.

Ardee got a try early on in the second half but Balbriggan steadied the ship with veterans Paul Quinn and Johnny Davis doing some great defensive work.  Keelan King entered the fray at No 6 and there were some good glimpses from him.  Jack Rutherford and Evan Darcy had good games in the pack, carrying hard.   Balbriggan’s persistence paid off with a penalty.  The move of the game came when Ardee were threatening the Balbriggan line but gave away a penalty.  Quick thinking from Brown saw him run the length of the pitch and just get held up short.  A penalty ensued, Balbriggan decided to kick,  Scannell’s kick came back off the cross bar and as everyone looked on a quick thinking Dennis picked up and scored, Scannell added the points to put Balbriggan back in front 20 – 17 with 7 minutes left.

Ardee weren’t going to be denied and piled on the pressure.  After two disallowed scores they eventually got across the line to ease out narrow winners.

Overall, a very enjoyable game and well done to Ardee.  Hard luck to Balbriggan but it was great to see so many stars of the future putting their hands up.  A little more practice together and the Club can look forward to have a IIXV that will push their IXV comrades all the way.   Thanks to the handful of dedicated supporters who made their way to Ardee to support the lads.

DOR Jeff Neville interviewed on the growth of rugby in Balbriggan RFC

Did you see the article published by Leinster Rugby on the ethos in Balbriggan RFC, and the impact of volunteers on the growth of the club?

25 January 2024; Balbriggan Rugby Club Director of Rugby Jeff Neville during U18 training session at Balbriggan Rugby Club in Dublin. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Jeff Neville, Director of Rugby, explains how the club has a team for everyone, and a pathway for minis to progress through the stages up to senior level. A new initiative where senior and older youth players volunteer their time to help coach mini, youth and disability tag teams, and how the mini players are involved in supporting senior teams as mascot and kicking tee runners. We also now regularly see the senior teams arriving to support their counter part, and clap them on to the pitch.

25 January 2024; U18 volunteer Harley Fagan-Harold during a mini’s training session at Balbriggan Rugby Club in Dublin. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

The club hopes to show our younger players that they are valued, change the narrative to showcase that we are one big team, and we’ll shout for each other.

If you missed the article on our social media, or on the Leinster Rugby website, you can read it if full HERE

Balbriggan Women v CYM, 18th Feb

What a day! Balbriggan’s Women’s Senior team made history last week by securing the victory needed to clinch the Leinster League Division 2 title and with it promotion to Division 1 for the first time.

A full squad gathered for the coach journey around the M50 to CYM’s grounds in Terenure. A good luck video message from Emily Kitson’s family and friends in New Zealand provided an emotional and inspiring element to the journey. Mascot Sophie was also on hand to travel with the team and lead them out onto the pitch.

The match started with Balbriggan on top but a resolute defensive display from the hosts kept them out. As the nerves mounted the aggressive line speed of CYM forced some uncharacteristic handling errors from Balbriggan. Eventually the pressure paid off when Shannon Campbell was released on the right wing and dotted down in the corner. She then slotted an excellent conversion to give Balbriggan a 7 point lead.

CYM did not let up and continued to pressure the visitors. Gradually Balbriggan got on top and were finally able to break the home side’s resistance when Emily Kitson blew the game open with a 7 minute hat trick. Shannon converted 2 of these to bring the half time score to CYM 0 Balbriggan 26.

This gave Balbriggan the breathing space they needed and they were able to express themselves in the second half. A strong bench helped to keep the tempo high. The second half was barely a minute old when a big tackle and turnover by Emily freed Andrea Murray who carried hard, deep into the CYM 22 and just as the defence converged on her she popped a lovely offload to the supporting Steph Campbell to score in the corner.

Balbriggan now went through its full bag of tricks with a strike play off a scrum seeing Laura McDonald scythe through the defence to score under the posts, a cross field kick by Emily put Shannon away for her second try of the game and a quick tap penalty resulted in Emily running 40m to score her fourth try of the day. In an exceptional kicking performance, Shannon converted all four of these scores to finish with a brilliant return of 7 from 8 off the tee and personal haul of 24 points on the day.

There were great celebrations at the final whistle between the players and the huge travelling support as skipper Eadoin Cannon lifted the Division 2 trophy. This was Balbriggan’s eleventh win in a row, a run that saw them defeat every team in the league at least once, a remarkable run. 

This success was driven by the entire squad so while only 22 could tog out on the day the other players who were injured or didn’t get a run all contributed to this victory. While this was an achievement first and foremost for Balbriggan, the part played by other North East clubs in offering girls rugby to young players must also be acknowledged. This squad has a number of players who first played rugby in neighbouring clubs Boyne, Skerries and Ardee, we thank them for their contribution to Women’s rugby.

The celebrations kicked off in earnest back in the clubhouse and continued long into the night. Well deserved for the history makers!

Dodd1e5 Gr4nd S7am to visit BRFC

Balbriggan RFC are thrilled to announce that “Dodd1es Gr4nd S7am” All Roads Lead to Rome cycle will be calling in to our club on their way to the Aviva on Feb 29th.

The cyclists will be calling to the clubhouse for a break and refreshments on Thurs 29th Feb, and are expected to arrive around 7.30pm, and everyone is welcome to cheer them into the club, and then on to the Aviva.  

The Dodd1e’5 Gr4nd S7am Team route will see them visit all 6 Nations Stadiums, kicking off at Murrayfield on 28th February, stopping at Dublin, Cardiff, Twickenham, and Paris, arriving before the final whistle on 8th March in Rome. For more information on the Race to Rome, visit their website HERE.

The cycling team are travelling to the 6 countries to raise funds, and awareness of motor neuron disease. They have set a target of £174,555 and are already half way there. If you would like to donate to Tackle MND please follow this link HERE.

Match Report: Men V Portarlington 10th Feb

Were memories of last year still lingering in the teams mind or where they arriving in Portarlington with a clear vision?  That was the question.  On their last encounter, Balbriggan had been 24 – 5 up just before halftime had ended up losing  39 – 24.  Certainly Balbriggan started well and Portarlington were the more nervy team giving away a number of penalties in the first few minutes.   Good carrying from Caldwell and Reilly set Balbriggan up, and with a penalty being kicked into the 22, a penalty on the next play allowed Conor Colman open the account. Balbriggan gifted the 3 straight back when Reilly was adjudged to have made a hight tackle, in fairness it is very difficult for a big forward to make a standard smother tackle!   Balbriggan then lost Adam O’Connor to a head injury and was replaced by Stephen Dowling.

Balbriggan were doing most of the carrying and Port were still giving away the penalties, and this allowed Balbriggan to stretch out the lead to 9-3 with Colman slotting over two more penalties.   A good carry by Caldwell set up Tomas Murphy who made good ground and was well supported by scrum half Kinners who put Eoin Hannigan in fir the opening try.

Balbriggan’s weakness appears to be in defending re-starts!   Within a couple of minutes Portarlington were celebrating a try in the corner when their back line caught Balbriggan very tight and flashed the ball across the line.  Their out half slotted over the conversion form the touchline. 

Again, Balbriggan got up to the Port line only to be penalised, it wasn’t all lost as Hannigan stole the line out and a mazy run by Staunton into the middle of the red zone before he off loaded to Caldwell who finished the job.  Colman converted.  Half time 23 – 10.

Eight minutes into the second half Port’s pressure told and a breakthrough from their backs cleaved the Balbriggan defence and let them in under the posts.  Suddenly, 23 – 17.   Balbriggan did get back on the attack and worked yet another penalty which they put to the corner.  Port stole the line out but had to touch down over their own line and while the ref initially gave a goal line drop out he agreed that it should have been a 5 metre scrum.  Balbriggan drove forward and when the easiest thing was to score it ended up in touch!  From this Port ended up with a break and were just stopped in the Balbriggan 22 but they recycled and added another 5.   A further two penalties had Balbriggan on the ropes and a terrible sense of déjà vu.  A clever line out with the two Graham’s at the front of the line out led to Balbriggan making ground and Port were pinged in mid field.   Balbriggan were sensible and took their three points to trail by two.

Balbriggan looked to get the winning score and after a good attack that brought them on the line, Colman was adjudged to have dropped the ball as he went over the line.   Port then were penalised and Colman didn’t miss from just inside the half.   There was still time to restart and while Balbriggan retained the ball instead of hanging on they kicked it back to Port who’s backs were ready for one final fling.  Some missed tackles didn’t ease tension but luckily for the away team, Port fumbled and Balbriggan were victors by 1 point.  This was enough to put them on top of the table on score difference form Portlaoise.   Roscrea lost to Portlaoise to put them back to third and Portarlington remain in fourth.   With only a couple of points between the top four everything could still be there to be played for when these two meet again in the last match of the season on 24th March.  

Callum Breeds and his back row comrades had a great game and the future of the back row looks good.  The two old guys in the second row are the heart of the team.   Stephen Dowling had a good game against a heavy back and Graham Reynolds and Kieran O’Donoghue had their usual strong games.   Kinners and Mike Walls swap around at half back which allows a variation in play but maybe too much kicking.   Conor Colman was magnificent with the boot but won’t want to see the video of some of his tackle attempts.   Paul O’Connor did not get as many opportunities as one would like to see but he gives some strong running options.   The back three Dylo, Gibbsy and Tomas all had good games.  Dylo had some great follow ups and hindered the ball gatherer on a number of occasions.    

A win but Balbriggan know there is still a lot of work to be done.  There were too many missed tackles, particularly in the centre of the field.  Box kicks caused difficulties and in fact two of the Port tries came from Balbriggan kicking the ball away. Game management needs some work, and it was the old head of Conor Caldwell who was there at times to take the right options. 

However when you compare this to the first game of the season against Portlaoise, this team have moved on tremendously and the fixes should also be minor.   With the likes of Brain Mollahan, Jack Scannell and  Mark Fay also to come back there is plenty of strength for this team.

Next week, can they do what no other Balbriggan team has done: get a win in Roscrea?

As always, all support welcome.

Balbriggan RFC weekly lotto results

Check in here for the weekly lotto results:

18/01/24: 5, 8, 18 – no winner this week

25/01/24: 3, 10, 12 – no winner this week

01/02/24: 3, 19, 21 – no winner this week

08/02/24: 9, 20, 24 – no winner this week

To play and be in with your chance to win, follow this link: HERE

*players must be over 18 to play

Match report: Women V Port Dara 4th Feb

Balbriggan’s women’s team took to the road again last Sunday for a spin down the M7 to Portarlington to play the Port Dara Falcons. Despite a number of players being unavailable, a full squad travelled for this tricky encounter.

Playing against a strong wind in the first half Balbriggan tried to put pressure on the hosts from the outset. Some strong runs from player of the match Geraldine Byrne, and fellow prop Holly Keogh prevented the hosts from getting any momentum. A stirring passage of inter play between forwards and backs culminated with hooker Steph Campbell driving over for the first score of the game. 

Port Dara’s defence held firm and they managed to frustrate the Balbriggan team from turning territorial dominance into more scores. Balbriggan had a number of chances to extend their lead but just came up short. Half time Port Dara 0 Balbriggan 5. 

The second half kicked off with Balbriggan now enjoying the benefit of the strong wind. It wasn’t long before they extended their lead. A lovely break by Emily Kitson cut through the defence. She fed the supporting Laura McDonald who drew in the full back before returning the ball to Emily to score under the posts. In tough conditions for kickers Shannon Campbell judged the wind perfectly to nail the conversion.

Port Dara came back strongly and for the first time in the game exerted some continuous pressure on the Balbriggan defence. They got their reward from a series of quick penalties to score an unconverted try in the corner. 

Balbriggan regrouped and didn’t let this setback put them off. Buoyed by the introduction of fresh legs in the pack, Tilly Meade, Beth Kirwan and Caoimhe Stewart, they went straight back on the attack. Rachel Fanning was causing all sorts of problems for the home defence with her strong running. Coupled with a dominant scrum it wasn’t long before Emily extended the lead with a strong carry from 5m out. Shannon again added the extras. 

Now in the ascendancy, Balbriggan drove for home. Ger continued her strong performance in the loose with repeated carries over the gain line. This enabled the backs to keep stretching the home defence. It wasn’t long before Emily completed her hat trick against a dogged but tiring defence. 

The game got a bit tetchy with both teams issued with yellow cards and warned about their behaviour.  More subs by Balbriggan kept the momentum up with Kate McFadden and Laura Brown bringing fresh legs to the backs and Colleen Hoey and Sarah Mollahan getting valuable time at prop. 

Indeed it was the new front rows that created the final score. A 5m defensive scrum for Port Dara was shunted off the ball by the Balbriggan pack resulting in a penalty.  Shannon quickly tapped to herself and dove over for a try to match that of her mother in the first half. Final score Port Dara 5 Balbriggan 29. 

Thanks to Port Dara for the tough game and for your hospitality after the match. 

Balbriggan remain top of the league with one game to go. After 3 successive away wins the ladies are on the road one last time on the 18th February when they travel to CYM where a win will ensure the title. All support very much welcome. 

Stingers exhibition game, 13th Jan

On Sat 13th Jan, the Stingers played the half time exhibition game in the Aviva during the Leinster v Stade Francais in the ERC.

The Stingers fielded 11 players against The Mullingar Lions, with the 4 subs getting a run during the short match, and lots of pride for some of the players getting to score a try in the Aviva.

It was a slippy pitch, and those who weren’t in boots felt the brunt of it, with a few bad slips on both sides during the excitement of the game, but thankfully no major injuries.

Both teams put in a fantastic effort, and a great day was had by all, with the players getting photographs with a few of the Leinster celebrities and Leo the Lion.

A big thank you to Mullingar for a great match, and to Leinster Branch for inviting the lads in!

Match Report: Women v New Ross, 14th Jan

Balbriggan’s women had an early start last Sunday as they undertook the long trip down to New Ross for another crucial encounter in their Leinster League Division 2 campaign.

Balbriggan travelled with a full squad and started the brighter putting the home side on the back foot from the get go. Resolute defence from New Ross kept their try line intact as they survived the opening onslaught. It was proving to be a forwards based struggle with both packs going at each other hammer and tongs. 

Eventually the Balbriggan pressure told when Abi Dungan, who had an outstanding game throughout, drove over from close range for the opening score. Shannon Campbell added the conversion to open up a seven point lead.

New Ross dominated the rest of the half and the physicality of the game took its toll with Balbriggan captain Eadoin Cannon forced off, despite trying to play through the pain for a while. Jess Kelleher replaced her initially and had a number of strong carries herself in a very good cameo.

Just when it looked like Balbriggan had seen off the home challenge, New Ross struck with the last play of the half when good interplay between backs and forwards saw them cross in the corner for an unconverted try. Half time New Ross 5 Balbriggan 7.

Balbriggan regrouped at the break and playing with the benefit of a strengthening wind, upped their intensity on the restart. Balbriggan pretty much took up camp in the New Ross 22 for most of the third quarter. Try as they might they just couldn’t breach the heroic home defence. When they did, Laura Brown was denied by an incredible last ditch tackle that bundled her into touch in goal before she could ground the ball.

Next up was Abi Dungan who after another strong carry was deemed to be held up over the line with New Ross relieved to escape with a goal line drop out. The game was very much in the balance when Balbriggan were awarded a penalty in the 22 and opted for the kick at goal. Unfortunately, Shannon’s effort was pulled left and wide and New Ross escaped again.

Eventually the pressure paid off when after a number of strong carries from Holly Keogh and Lorna McKenna (who put in a monumental 80 minute shift in the second row), Balbriggan found themselves knocking on the door again. This time from 5m out Abi wasn’t going to be denied and she forced her way over for a crucial score. Shannon found her range with the conversion and Balbriggan had some breathing space at 5-14 up.

Balbriggan soon pinned New Ross back into their own half and a fantastic surge by Caoimhe Colman broke the defensive line and quick hands saw Emily Kitson skate over for the insurance score. Shannon converted again and the lead stretched out to 5-21.

There was still time for both teams to try and secure bonus points but the defence on both sides held firm, the game ending in a 5-21 win for the visitors.

The result leaves Balbriggan top of the table with three games remaining and New Ross, with a game in hand, still with much to play for in the promotion stakes. This was a fabulous game of rugby played in great spirit by two fully committed teams.

Thanks to New Ross for the hospitality after the game and the big number of supporters who made the long trip down. It was a very tired but happy Balbriggan squad that enjoyed the post match celebrations on the journey home.

Next match is away to Clondalkin on 28 January all support, as always, very welcome.

Balbriggan Women V Naas, 7th Jan

Balbriggan senior women’s team welcomed table toppers Naas to Bowhill last Sunday. The two teams were only separated on points difference going into the game played in crisp but ideal conditions.

The home side signalled their intent from the get go when from the kickoff thundering tackles from Shannon Campbell and Emily Kitson forced Naas into a knock on. Rachel Fanning pounced on the loose ball and drove into the visitors 22. From a quick recycle Emily, with support runners outside her was able to scythe through the Naas defence for a try within 1 minute of the start. Shannon’s conversion gave Balbriggan an early 7-0 lead.

Naas came straight back into it from the restart and forced Balbriggan to concede a number of penalties. A quick tempo from the Naas 9 saw them hit back with an unconverted try in the left corner. 7-5 with barely 5 minutes played. Game very much on.

Balbriggan settled down and their rush defence was making life decidedly uncomfortable for the Naas half backs. The back row was carrying and tackling hard and forced a penalty at half way line and the decision was taken to go down the line. From the resulting line out Naas challenged the throw but knocked the ball on. This allowed the home team to launch a strike play from the scrum. The scrum was rock solid allowing scrum half Lou McCleery to feed Emily. With runners off both shoulders Emily threw a short pass to the onrushing Laura McDonald who did brilliantly to hold the pass one handed before crashing over off the goal post. Shannon added the extras to extend the lead.

The home side was really playing well now and were soon back in the Naas 22. A knock on gave Naas a scrum about 10 metres from their own line, The Balbriggan front row was on top at this point and shunted the visitors back making it extremely hard for the Naas 9 to clear the ball away. Lou swooped on the ball and was hauled down 5m from the line. Captain Eadoin Cannon from No. 8 made a great supporting run and picked the ball from the back of the ruck and dove over for another great score beside the posts. Shannon continued her 100% kicking rate leaving the half time score Balbriggan 21 Naas 5.

The second half started with Balbriggan in the ascendancy, pinning the visitors into their own half for much of the opening 10 minutes. A series of close in pick and goes by the forwards eventually ended with the ball being held up over the goal line. From the resulting goal line drop out Laura Brown went on a mazy run bringing play up to the 22. Some strong carries from the pack freed up space out wide where Sarah McDonald timed her entry into the line to perfection allowing her to step inside the Naas winger and offload to her sister Laura. There was still plenty for Laura to do as she fended off the cover defender before rounding the full back for another wonderful try, her second of the match.

To their credit Naas didn’t crumble and came back strong. From a scrum penalty in Balbriggan’s 22 they moved the ball right where their centre was hauled down a couple of feet from the line. A couple of phases later they forced their way over for a converted try that reduced the gap to 26-12. It was a real ding dong game now with both teams going at each other with gusto. Balbriggan marched back down into the visitor’s half and earned a penalty 30m from the Naas line. A strong carry from Stephanie Campbell brought play into the 22 where Naas were penalised again for hands in the ruck. Emily took a quick tap and was stopped 5m from the line. Quick hands from the backs saw Shannon released to score the try.

Naas didn’t lie down and with time running out went on the offensive and attacking right to left released their winger to score. The conversion brought the deficit down to 12. From the resulting restart a lovely exchange of passes between the Naas centres saw the 13 race home from 60m for another converted try. There were now only 5 points in it with less than 5 minutes to play. Despite the wobble, Balbriggan didn’t panic and saw out the remainder of the game in the Naas half. Final score Balbriggan 31 Naas 26.

This bonus point win sees Balbriggan move back to the top of the league with 4 games to go. Huge thanks to the supporters who came out in the cold to cheer the team home. Shout out to Andy from the Stingers who acted as water boy on the day. Thanks very much Andy, enjoy your big day in the Aviva next Saturday when the Stingers take to the field for the half time game during Leinster’s big European Cup match against Stade Francais.  Finally a special word for our mascot Sophie who has led the team out for the last number of games and ran the kicking tee with aplomb. We’ve never lost when Sophie has been there!! 

Next up is a tough road trip to New Ross all travelling support is welcome. 

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