Match Report 2nd April 2023 – Balbriggan v Newbridge League Play-Off

Balbriggan 12     Newbridge 17

It wasn’t to be but a valiant display by Balbriggan saw them come up just short.   There will be a few what might haves but they did themselves proud on the day.  A big thanks to the travelling support from the Club

Balbriggan kicked off and Newbridge returned with a kick deep into the Balbriggan half which was fielded by Andrew Brown.   He evaded the first tackle and made a great run up the touch line, he kicked ahead and forced Newbridge to concede a line out on the 22.   Unfortunately, Balbriggan messed the lineout and allowed Newbridge to clear but it was only to Andrew again and he ran the ball straight back at them.  Newbridge conceded two penalties in quick succession and Balbriggan were able to maul the ball over for the first score.

Soon after the kick-off Mark Fay was penalised at a ruck and allowed Newbridge get back into the Balbriggan half, they then won a further penalty which they decided to kick to reduce the score to 3-5.   Balbriggan looked better when they started to run the ball, Andrew Browne was always open to attack and a good attack was stopped when the referee determined that Balbriggan had gone off their feet at the tackle.   On twenty minutes Cal O’Connor was nearly away when he intercepted the ball but a last gasp tackle put him into touch.    The Newbridge No 8 who was their go-to player made a break but was downed by Graham O’Reilly but again Balbriggan were penalised at the ruck.   Newbridge kicked to the 5 metre line.  Conor Caldwell stopped the advance on the goal line but was deemed offside and perhaps a little fortunate not to see yellow.   Newbridge kicked to touch but then made the cardinal error of a crooked throw.  Balbriggan won the scrum and Mike Walls made a good clearance kick.   Newbridge ran this back and what they would call in the professional game a system error in the centre let Newbridge in under the posts and allowed them to take the lead 10-5.  , though Balbriggan attempted a kick from the ten metre line and whilst in had the distance it stayed out to the left.  A further attack saw Tomas Murphy make a good run but his pass was knocked on by Rian Kavanagh.  It was these little errors that were expensive for the Balbriggan side.  Overall Newbridge were having the better of the game in the second quarter but the Balbriggan defence was resolute and halftime came with no further scores.

Brian Mollahan replaced Rian Kavanagh at half time.  Newbridge kicked off and Ian Murphy returned the ball to the half way line.  Another good Balbriggan break by Mark Fay was halted when Balbriggan were penalized coming in from the side.    Balbriggan then got a good break with Graham Reilly and Andrew Brown making great ground up the left hand side.    Balbriggan got to the five metre line but Andrew Brown was injured and Rian Kavanagh returned to the field.   Balbriggan now spent the next 10 minutes close to eh Newbridge line but got nothing despite all the pressure piled on.  A series of penalties must have had Balbriggan near a penalty try.   The crowd thought it was coming when Newbridge got a yellow for pulling a ruck down but Balbriggan only got another penalty, the ball was spilled forward and the siege was lifted.   Balbriggan just seemed to be their own worst enemies with a number of silly errors.   This allowed Newbridge back up the field but great Balbriggan defence kept them out and repelled them to nearer the halfway line where they were awarded a penalty.   Balbriggan were discussing their tactics as the kick was taken and the only player alert was jack Scannell for when the ball came back off the post but he was no match for the Newbridge number 8 who crashed over to score.    So having been knocking on the door for the previous 10 minutes they now ended up 12 points behind.

Balbriggan took a couple of quick penalties but they were too hurried and no real progress was made.   Cal O’Connor tried his best to find a gap to no avail.  Conor Caldwell and Fiachra Tuckey had expended all their energy and were replaced by Jonny Davis and Andrew Miller.    Conor Colman replaced Rian Kavanagh.   Miller’s bulk made an immediate difference and perhaps he should have been introduced earlier to act as a third line of attack with Caldwell and O’Reilly.    Eventually Brian Mollahan made the breakthrough and powered his way through a gap and scored at the posts.  Scannell added the extras but time was against Balbriggan and a further knock-on allowed possession back to Newbridge who after one false attempt when they put the ball out but the match wasn’t over got it away with the next kick.

T Murphy, A Brown (B Mollahan), C O’Connor, R Kavanagh (C Colman), J Scannell, I Murphy, M Wall, A O’Connor, G Reynolds, C O’Donoghue (R Mooney), G O’Reilly, D Sweeney , M Fay, F Tuckey (J Davis), C Caldwell (A Miller)

As manager Cathal Myles said after “It was not our day but the learnings will make us a better side next year”.

A big thank you to Manager, Cathal, Coaches Mike Wall and Graham Reynolds, Skipper Ian Murphy and all who featured in the season.   We may not have gone up but it was a joy to watch the team for the season.  It was also great to see members of the youths making their break through.    We have beaten all the other teams in the league, Portlaoise and North Meath will be joining us next season so we know what needs to be done.   If we can maintain this years team and continue to integrate more youths coming through all augurs well.  Getting a competitive second team out there will also be a good marker for the future.  Roll on the new season but in between the players deserve a good break.

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