Athy 15 v Balbriggan 9
Balbriggan’s IXV played away in Athy on Sunday afternoon in the fourth weekend of matches in Leinster League Division 2B. The North County men came up short, losing 15 v 9 to the Kildare outfit. This was something of a curates egg of a game. Athy were definitely deserved winners on the day but strangely, they never threatened Balbriggan’s line for the entire game. All their scores came from penalty kicks at goal with only one of those kicks coming from close range inside the Balbriggan 22. Balbriggan on the other hand threatened the Athy line on a couple of occasions but were rewarded with three pointer penalties rather than the tries they really needed.
Balbriggan trailed Athy early in the match to a penalty and went further behind on 25 minutes to a further kick at goal. Balbriggan didn’t panic however and kept plugging away and their hard work was rewarded with penalty soon after the Athy second score. Kyle Healy landed the kick (6 v 3) but Balbriggan immediately conceded a further three points to a long range kick at goal after an infringement at a ruck. The problems Balbriggan faced in this match were obvious from early on. Missing a number of forwards through injuries, the Balbriggan pack faced their strongest opponents all season with the Athy forwards. Penalties were conceded at scrum time and at the breakdown. This in truth was the difference between the teams. Athy were awarded penalties that they kicked, even from long range. Balbriggan were always scrambling to keep in touch with their Kildare opponents. Just before half time, Balbriggan, trailing 9 v 3 worked their way close to the Athy try line. Awarded a penalty 5 metres out, Balbriggan decided to take it quickly and ran the ball. Scrum half Kyle Healy was brought down near the Athy posts with a dangerous high tackle that necessitated the Balbriggan man receiving treatment before being able to resume. The Athy player was shown the yellow card and this time Balbriggan took the three points on offer. This left Balbriggan trailing 9 v 6 at half time.
Unfortunately for Balbriggan, a fairly dull second half saw Athy rewarded with two kicks at goal, one from long range. This allowed Athy to stretch their lead to 15 v 6. Balbriggan’s backs were to the wall and then things got even worse. Two players, within five minutes of each other were sent to the sin bin for technical fouls. One of these cards was shown for a foot trip on an opponent. Down to 13 men, Balbriggan showed incredible character to work their way up field from their own 22 and into the Athy 22. Awarded a penalty wide out to the left of the posts, Balbriggan were informed that this was the last play of the game. There wasn’t time to kick for the corner. Kyle Healy bravely stepped forward and under intense pressure landed one of his best kicks at goal all season. As soon as the ball passed over the cross bar, the referee blew the final whistle. Balbriggan had rescued a valuable losing bonus point, and with it kept their interest in the outcome of the league very much alive.
Women’s Leinster League Div 3:
Balbriggan 15 – Greystones 7
Balbriggan ladies took on Greystones for the first time since these two teams last met in Donnybrook in the final of Leinster League Division 4 at the end of last season. Balbriggan won that mighty encounter and repeated the feat with another powerhouse performance against the ladies from Greystones. Balbriggan, on the back of last week’s win against Clontarf took to the pitch with a positive attitude and came away with a well deserved victory.
Captain Sandra McAleer as usual led from the front and it was she who scored all three tries of Balbriggan’s tries. Balbriggan’s superior firepower in the forwards saw them repeatedly maul their way up field and into Greystones territory. One such surging move led to Balbriggan being rewarded with a penalty, Sandra McAleer’s quick thinking saw her take a quick penalty 5 metres out and led to her barging over the line for her first try just 5 minutes into the game. Balbriggan’s pack were very powerful and they established an early dominance in this game. Props Davina Doran and Stephaine Campbell both srummaged well and have now made a great new partnership in the front row. With Rachel Mulligan directing things at the break downs a reload at the back of a ruck saw Sandra go in for her second try just before half time as she was driven over the line by some great support play. Unfortunately, Balbriggan momentarily dropped their guard and Greystones got a score before half time when they took a quick penalty in front of posts and got over for a soft try that was in truth against the run of play. This was the only time in the match when Balbriggan switched off.
The second half saw Balbriggan camped in Greystones half for long periods. Even so, Balbriggan had to remain vigilant as the visitors fought hard and threatened to counter attack on a number of occasions. Some great defensive play from Olivia Devine and Dearbhla Sheridan in particular, restricted Greystones and prevented the visitors from posing any real threat to Balbriggan’s line in the second half. After many efforts at finding a way through the Greystones defence during the second half, Balbriggan’s backs finally broke the line through Ciara Sheridan who broke out through midfield and stormed 50 meters up the pitch. She was stopped in her tracks just 2 meters from the line. Balbriggan were clearly on top with Michelle Murphy and Val Van Veen in particular making serious yards and cutting through the Greystones defence time and again. However it was McAleer again, who, with 10 mins left sealed the victory for Balbriggan as she took another quick penalty 5 meters out from the Greystones line. It would be unfair to single out any one player in particular as all the Balbriggan ladies from 1-19 were superb. Final score 15 v 7.