Both Ballina and Westport got their Connacht Junior league campaigns off to winning starts last Sunday, while Castlebar had to make do with a share of the spoils at home.
Westport got over the line thanks to a last-gasp Pat Conway try to steal a 21-20 win over newly promoted Loughrea in Galway. Westport seemed to have weathered the early storm from the J1 new boys and led 13-11, but Loughrea were able to take the game to the Mayo men and push themselves into a lead. Not for the first time Eddie Walsh was the key man for Westport, keeping them in touch until a late burst by the forwards saw Conway crash over the line to steal the win.
Home draw not the ideal start for Casey’s men
Castlebar were looking to get off to a good start at home to Tuam last weekend but they had to make do with sharing the spoils after a 9-9 draw with the visitors. Like their old rivals Westport, Castlebar left it late to get some points on the board. Robbie Cusack kicked a late penalty to level up the game after kicks from Eoin Cosgrove (2 ) and one from Killian McDonnagh seemed to have been enough to seal the win for the north Galway men. But Cusack’s late score got Rory Casey’s men level on the scoreboard. The new Castlebar manager will know that his side needs to see some improvement next time out against Monivea or it could be a long hard winter in Cloondesh.
Crowley Park heroes pick up valuable first win
Ballina who had an out of sorts campaign last time out, picked up a good opening day win over Galwegians at the weekend. The north Mayo men sneaked through by 21-18. Tries in the second half from Eoin McDaid and Conor Forde were the cornor stones to the victory. Two penalties from Cory Browne at the beginning and end of the first half saw Ballina go in at the break trailing 8-6, with ‘Wegians crossing the line once in the half through Ross Shaughnessy and the same player kicking an early three pointer.
Both sides went at it in the second half and Ballina were all but assured of victory before a late ‘Wegians try gained the bouns point for the Galway men. But Ballina have got the season off on the right foot and will look to build from here on in.
Tough tests again this weekend
The second round of the league gets under way this weekend with Ballina looking to pick up their second win of the season when they take on Sligo away from home. The men from the Yeats county saw off Buccaneers by 22-15 away from home last time out and this will be a tough test of Ballina’s credentials for the second week in a row. Westport will make the trip to Headford to take on Corrib this weekend. The tough examination that Loughrea gave the Coveys last time out should have shaken them into life and they should have enough to see them over the line. Castlebar will be in action at home for the second time this season and face a tough exam at the hands of Monivea. Castlebar would have hoped to pick up the win last time out to set them up for this tough encounter and Monivea may just have enough to take the points away from Cloondesh.