Balbriggan vs. Ratoath Match Report – November 5th, 2023
In a highly anticipated match, Balbriggan faced off against Ratoath on a crisp Sunday afternoon. Balbriggan had already secured promotion to Leinster 2B, but their competitive spirit remained undiminished. Coach Michael Walls and Graham Reynolds seized the opportunity to make several changes to the lineup, injecting fresh energy into the team. Eoin Hannigan earned a start, Reece Mooney replaced Ciaran O’Donoghue, Mark Faye moved to the seven spot in place of Ciaran Hannigan, and Fiachra Tuckey took over at number 6. The backline remained unchanged, maintaining continuity.
The first half of the game started with a burst of energy, as Eoin Hannigan’s powerful run from the restart gave Balbriggan RFC the momentum they needed. The Balbriggan pack showcased their structured play, moving the ball skilfully and stretching Ratoath’s defence. Notable carries from players like Mark Faye and Adam O’Connor laid the foundation for Balbriggan’s early dominance. Quick thinking from scrumhalf James Gibbs led to a superb pass that put Michael Walls in space on the left wing. This resulted in sustained pressure from Balbriggan and eventually led to a penalty, which they opted to kick to the corner. A dangerous maul followed, with Adam O’Connor making a strong run but narrowly missing the try line. Despite Ratoath’s strong defence, James Gibbs managed to snipe his way over for a well-earned try from the ensuing ruck. Balbriggan’s tails were up after the restart, with the likes of Graeme O’Reilly and Adam O’Connor consistently making powerful carries to set up the backs for go-forward ball. Tomas Murphy and Kyle Healy made strong efforts on the left wing, but Ratoath’s defence held firm. An unfortunate turnover resulted in a period of kick tennis and some daring offloads, with Balbriggan eventually earning a penalty due to Ratoath’s breakdown infringements. This break in play allowed Balbriggan to regroup. Balbriggan’s lineout functioned seamlessly, and a solid run from Paul O’Connor, combined with an exquisite offload from Eoin Hannigan, put Callum Breeds in open space down the left touchline. The backs and forwards combined effectively for a substantial gain, but a knock-on when offloading to Kyle Healy and Reece Mooney let Ratoath off the hook. Despite this, both teams displayed
commendable attacking and defensive play. Ratoath gained possession after the resulting scrum, but they faced relentless pressure from Balbriggan’s defence. A knock-on from Ratoath eventually gave Balbriggan an opportunity to clear their lines. Paul O’Connor found a good touch, setting up Balbriggan for another attacking opportunity.
From the subsequent lineout, Balbriggan executed a well-structured play. A strong carry from Conor Caldwell and a well-timed pass allowed Paul O’Connor to make further ground. However, a knock-on in the Ratoath 22 denied Balbriggan another scoring chance. Ratoath, under pressure, struggled to exit their own half. Balbriggan’s strong defence, featuring both backs and forwards making solid tackles, combined with a counter-ruck from Adam O’Connor and Graeme O’Reilly, resulted in a turnover and a penalty.
Balbriggan’s supporters rejoiced as they cleared their lines. Paul O’Connor found a good touch again, and from the ensuing lineout, Balbriggan swiftly transitioned into their attacking shape. Conor Caldwell’s powerful scrum restart put Ratoath in a difficult position, compelling them to kick the ball away. Conor Caldwell capitalized on this, and Michael Walls pinned Ratoath deep in their own territory once more. Ratoath struggled to make headway, and Balbriggan maintained their defensive stance. Stephen Dowling and Graeme O’Reilly nearly secured a turnover, but Ratoath managed a chip kick that Tomas Murphy expertly dealt with. Balbriggan’s ensuing ruck saw Fiachra Tuckey step in as the first receiver, releasing Mark Faye with a crisp pass. Michael Walls then found open space in Ratoath’s half, allowing Brian Mollohan to draw in a defender with an exceptional offload, which, in turn, set Jack Scannell free down the wing. Jack Scannell came tantalizingly close to scoring, but Ratoath managed to halt his progress. Nevertheless, Jack Scannell found Adam O’Connor in support, and with strong support from Callum Breeds and Reece Mooney, Balbriggan secured the ball and looked to capitalize on the opportunity. A precise carry and pass from Conor Caldwell to Michael Walls enabled Brian Mollohan to make a game-changing move, breaking through Ratoath’s defence and setting up Tomas Murphy for a try, expertly drawing in the last two defenders before passing to Paul O’Connor to finish the play. This marked the end of an eventful first half.
The second half commenced with Balbriggan opting to kick deep and pin Ratoath back. The defensive efforts from Mark Faye and Brian Mollohan allowed Adam O’Connor to secure a valuable steal. Balbriggan chose to go for the corner, and their strong maul and powerful forward play allowed Graeme O’Reilly to score a well-executed try. Paul O’Connor converted from the sideline, and Balbriggan gained further momentum. Conor Caldwell collected the ball cleanly from the restart, and Fiachra Tuckey made an impactful carry, enabling Michael Walls to clear Balbriggan’s lines. A series of knock-ons and poor rucking ensued, resulting in a Ratoath lineout just outside Balbriggan’s 22. Intense pressure forced Ratoath to lose possession as Callum Breeds stole the lineout. Michael Walls, keen to maintain the pressure, noticed an absence of wingers and placed a deep kick into Ratoath’s 22. With a relentless work rate and solid defence, Stephen Dowling and Graeme O’Reilly nearly secured a turnover, but Ratoath managed a deft chip kick. Tomas Murphy reacted swiftly, recovering the ball and setting the stage for Balbriggan’s attacking play. Fiachra Tuckey took on the role of the first receiver from the resulting ruck and delivered an accurate pass to Mark Faye. The ball eventually found its way to Michael Walls, who took advantage of open space and drove deep into Ratoath’s half. However, Ratoath displayed determination in defence, managing to eventually clear their lines. Balbriggan’s persistent efforts led to them regaining possession, and from the ensuing lineout, a maul was formed. This set the stage for an impressive move by the backs, with Kyle Healy almost reaching the try line. Ratoath’s defence, though, held firm, preventing a try. Despite some strong carries from Floyd Runswue and Conor Caldwell, Balbriggan found themselves just meters away from Ratoath’s line. Unfortunately, poor rucking allowed Ratoath to steal the ball, putting Balbriggan on the defensive once more. The match continued with both teams displaying resilience and intensity. A back-and-forth encounter led to a moment of drama when a scuffle between Stephen Dowling and Ratoath’s number 12 resulted in cards for both players. Despite the heated exchange, the second half continued with Balbriggan firmly camped in Ratoath’s half.
Balbriggan maintained their determination and secured the win against a formidable Ratoath side,
marking a significant step as they moved into Leinster 2B for the next stage of the Leinster League.
Their next challenge awaits them in the form of an away game against Portlaoise in the 2B Leinster
League. The Balbriggan RFC team welcomes all supporters and looks forward to seeing you there on