Match Report 6th March 2023 – Balbriggan v Roscrea

Balbriggan 38     Roscrea 22

Well, it was worth waiting for!  At last Balbriggan put on a display like they have been promising all season and on Sunday it came together for much of the time.   There will be some reviews of the tries conceded but overall great satisfaction can be taken from the tries scored.   The win puts Balbriggan in the driving seat for the play-off spot. At worst 2 points in two weeks time against Garda would secure it. Roscrea through their 4 try bonus point are still only 4 points behind so can still catch us.  Edenderry have already won the league but hopefully will want to win their final home game.  If we were to finish level they would have a better record against us!

Balbriggan had made a couple of tweaks to the team following the Portarlington debacle.   Andrew Brown came in at full-back.  Jack Scannell was restored to the wing with Rian Kavanagh going to nine and the backs all moving out one.  The combination of Walls at out half, Murphy at 12 and O’Connor at 13 gave the backs a much better look.  In the pack Conor Caldwell came in at 8.

Balbriggan won a penalty just after the kick-off and from the kick were able to secure good field position in the Roscrea half.   The ball was run across the line and it was Brian Mollahan who made the decisive break and then off-loaded well to Jack Scannell who had trailed across and finished the job.  Jack then added the two points.

Roscrea were certainly not here to make up the numbers and went all out to prove that they were worthy of second place.  Mike Walls was, yet again, charged down and this put Balbriggan under pressure, only a great tackle by Mollahan saved them from conceding.  The relief was only momentary as the Roscrea out-half noted that the Balbriggan defence was very narrow and sent a lovely cross kick which looked as it had beaten their winger but he somehow managed to gather and score in the corner.  The conversion was missed.  However, it was not long until Roscrea added a second try under the posts when they intercepted a Balbriggan move and their centre went the length of the pitch to leave it set up for an easy conversion.

Minutes later it was balbriggan’s turn for the intercept when Brain Mollahan got his hands on the ball and sent Cal O’Connor away.  15 Minutes gone and the score was tied at 12 all.   Roscrea were next to score when they broke through some weak defensive play by Balbriggan.

Balbriggan were on the attack but were pulled up for a forward pass but they won the ball when they blew Roscrea off the scrum.   Again, it was Mollahan who put balbriggan up to the line They kept the pressure up and won a five metre penalty when Roscrea came off side.  Balbriggan got over the line put the ref deemed the ball was held up even if it looked as Grambo had grounded.   The ref was on the wrong side and by the time he had got around a Roscrea player had inserted his arm under the ball!   That’s the rub of the green.

Eventually the pressure paid off and Cal O’Connor found the gap to equal the scores and Jack Scannell added two to put the home side marginally in front.

From the kick-off Conor Caldwell caught the ball and charged up field before unloading to Ian Murphy who put Mollahan away, as Brian was tackled he off-loaded to Andrew Brown who was steaming up the wing and his speed and power kept him going right into the corner, to stretch the Balbriggan lead just before half-time.

Balbriggan started the second half at pace and Caldwell was making good yards, he put a good pass put to Scannell who nearly got in but play was called back for a penalty as the Roscrea winger had attempted to trip Scannell and was rewarded with a yellow card. Balbriggan went to the corner but Roscrea defended well. Balbriggan lost Ian Murphy to an injury and he was replace by Tomas Murphy, fresh back from Holiday. At this stage it was all Balbriggan and Cal O’Connor got over yet again in front of the posts to give Scannell an easy conversion to bring the score to 31 – 17. Roscrea were by no means done and put the home side under a lot of pressure and the Balbriggan defence held up well but eventually the pressure told and a try was conceded wide out.  31 – 22. Balbriggan probably had the stronger bench and in particular were able to bring on Andrew Miller to replace Tuckey who had a very comfortable game at 2. Reynolds went to 2 from 7 and Miller replaced him on the flank. Great to be able to make a change like that in the final quarter. Balbriggan won a scrum 5 metres out and were driving Roscrea back and scrum-half Kavanagh was able to take the ball and fall over the line for the final try of the afternoon.

A pulsating game, credit to both teams for putting up such a good display.  The return of Caldwell made a big difference and gave a double carrying threat of Grambo and himself. Dan Sweeney also put in some good carries. Adam O’Connor was much more noticeable than the previous week gaining good yards in his carries. His front row colleagues Tuckey and O’Donoghue go about their work quietly but all season have been giving Balbriggan that edge in the scrum. Reynolds and Fay were making a nuisance of themselves all afternoon. The change in the backs seemed to deliver with Murphy having a good game at 12. This gave Cal O’Connor more space and his off loading was better, bringing the wingers more into the game. Andrew Browne was strong in both attack and defence but the man of the match has to be Brian Mollahan for a non-stop show.

It was great to see such a crowd at the game and it certainly helps the team.   It also shows the community culture that we are a Club want to generate.   There were people there from all across the different parts of the Club urging on the lads. Should just also give a shout out to the ladies who beat CYM Terenure on Saturday, a match they lost very closely at the start of the season so was great to get revenge.

Edenderry’s win means they have secured the league title, well done to them. A win against Garda in our final match would ensure the payoff spot against Newbridge. While Newbridge are in the playoff spot they have won 5 games in the year, including matches against Wexford, New Ross and Coolmine so nothing guaranteed there.

Next week is Cup Time and we travel to Tullow to take on the Carlow men on Saturday 3pm. Nothing easy going down there. Tullow are mid table in the II league level with Dundalk IIXV. All support will be appreciated. Make a day in County Carlow as our U18 girls have a final in Carlow IT that day – more on that final later.

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