A competitive encounter from start to finish boiled down to a tale of two penalties in the opening All Ireland League fixture between Connacht rivals Galwegians and Ballina.
In the end Galwegians' fullback Conor O’Shaugnessy split the posts and Darragh Whyte’s effort tailed wide ensuring the home side enjoyed the best possible start in the AIL 2B, winning 23-22.
It was a much improved Wegian performance having lost to Ballina in the Conncht League, athough early ill discipline cost them when Ballina took a 3-0 lead.
However the home side, boasting 12 new AIL caps, grabbed a 12-3 lead - captain Kieran Downey leading by example with a barging finish after a super line from outhalf Adam Cunningham before debutant Darragh Kennedy sauntered over.
Inevitably Ballina struck back when prop Conor Mason crossed from a line-out maul, but when they were penalised for a high tackle, O’Shaughnessy added the three points. However, just before the break Ballina centre Callum Quinn broke two tackles inside his own half to score a try, tying the game 15-15 at half-time.
As the wind picked up, the kicking battle became key, and when an attempted crossfield kick from O’Shaughnessy went awry, Ballina's Ian West rose highest to intercept, giving the away side the lead for the first time.
However, O’Shaughnessy kick-started a counter attack from a loose Ballina pass, and when Ben McGuinness chipped through and dotted down for a try, the home side had closed the gap to two points.
Despite worsening conditions, O’Shaughnessy struck a penalty from the 10m line to put his side into a 23-22 lead, and although Ballina had the chance to take the win with a late penalty, Whyte's effort went left and wide.
Galwegians:C O’Shaughnessy, K Waterman, A Neary, J Kennedy, D Kennedy, A Cunningham, A Lambkin, S Ryan, A Paton, M McColgan, M Towey, B McGuinness, J Winters, B McSweeney, K Downey (C ). Subs:A Johnson, D Vergara De Los Santos, G Lally, R Deacy, K Langan.
Ballina: D Whyte, I West, C Quinn, R Molloy, A Corduff, M Murphy, C Quinn, C Mason, B McVann, S Clarke, F Tulley, M Feeley, P Howley, L Sweeney, D Molloy. Subs, A Duffy, B Boland, E Ferguson, A West, B Nealon.
Ref: Andrew Fogarty