Match Report 29th Jan 2023 – Balbriggan v Edenderry

Having arrived late to the game, near the end of the first half, the consensus from the side line was that while we were 12-0 down we were very much in this game.  The wind was blowing strongly down the pitch and the sun was making it difficult to see any high ball.  Certainly, the last few minutes of the first half saw some great defensive work.  Unfortunately the team lost skipper Ian Murphy when carrying one of his usual tackles had a rather large Edenderry forward fall very hard on his shoulder and that was the end of Ian’s game.  Rian Kavanagh moved to scum half and Mike Wall went to the out half position.   The sideline commentators were correct about Balbriggan being well in it and the majority of he second half was played in the Edenderry half.  Balbriggan made many good breaks but there are still issues with handling and too often the ball was knocked on.  The other issue was either white line fever or not trusting those outside of you.  Too often the centres cut back in instead of letting the ball out, particularly when you have a speed merchant such as Dylo waiting on the wing.  A couple of times Balbriggan put themselves in great positions but came away with nothing.  Adam O’Connor as usual was having a strong carrying game as also was Graham Reynolds.  Between them they carried well to the line and from a distance it looked as if was Dylo who picked up and squeezed in for a try.  Despite a great effort Jack Scannell could not get enough draw on the kick to bring it back in.

Game on and the league leaders were struggling to get into the Balbriggan half.  Any time they crossed the halfway line Balbriggan ensured they hoofed the ball back into the opposition 22.  A lot of pressure from Balbriggan but no points, a penalty awarded just outside the 22 saw Tomas Murphy try his luck but the wind held the ball out.  While kicking with the wind may look easy it certainly isn’t in Balbriggan.  Tomas was also having a good game running the ball back at Edenderry. While Balbriggan had the upper hand time was running out and they were still letting Edenderry of the hook.  Fiachra Tuckey had to retire injured which brought Andrew Miller into the game.   Miller was really up for this and the fresh legs at that stage of the game gave Edenderry all sorts of problems.   Substitute Brian Mollahan looked as if he again was going to be the teams saviour but was just tackled on the line after a very strong break.  However, it took another substitute, Conor Colman, to eventually breach the line in front of the posts to give Scannell an easy conversion to tie the match.  The game was in stoppage time at this stage and I think all would have accepted a draw.  Edenderry got a penalty and kicked into the Balbriggan 22 for about the first time in the half.   However great work by the pack saw them steal the ball and then the backs worked it up to near the Edenderry 22.   A loud blast on the whistle but this time the penalty was in Balbriggan’s favour.  Having missed earlier from a similar position young Scannell still had the confidence to step up to have a shot.  The kick looked as if it was going to stay out to the left of the posts but Scannell had judged the wind nicely and it too the ball just inside the left hand upright.  At least one Offaly man, Shane Lowry would have been proud of that shot.  Balbriggan had beaten the league leaders, 15-12.  The joy on the faces of the Balbriggan team was a pleasure to behold.  This win should give them the confidence to go on to at least claim runners up spot.  Yes there is still work to be done but the coaches should now where the work is needed and it should not be difficult to fix.  At this stage there is a reliance on either Birr or Roscrea to do us a favour and defeat Edenderry and for us to win our remaining games.  Roscrea are now only four points behind after their bonus point win on Sunday.  Our next match is Portarlington away in three weeks time and then Roscrea visit us at the start of March.

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