Westport slipped to a five-point defeat in Carrowholly last weekend to the current champions Monivea who were in no mood to loose to Mayo opposition for the second week in a row. They were far from the Monivea of old in the early exchanges but a good second half display showed they still had the class of old within themselves.
Westport were in charge in the opening half and led by seven on a score line of 10-3 at half time with Michael Heneghan crossing the line for the try. The score came about after good work by Westport forcing the Monivea line to rush their clearence to set up the chance. The conversion was slipped between the uprights by Eddie Walsh for his second place kick of the half.
The visitors got their first points on the board shortly before the break from a penalty kick, but Westport were still in a good poisiton going into the second half with a seven-point lead. An early placed ball kick brought the difference down to four minutes into the second half. Wesport had a chance to extend their lead shortly after when awarded a five-metre scrum but weren’t able to make it count and Monivea then took the game to the home side. Ger Divilly ran their first try in the corner after some good build up play to push them into the lead for the first time. The second killer Monivea try came after some confusion when the linesman raised his flag to say the ball was out of play only to be over-ruled by the referree and play waved on allowing Monivea to run the ball in over the line unapposed from 20 metres out. Westport did get a late try through Paddy Kennedy but time was almost up at that stage.
Castlebar travelled to Ballina for the third round of the league, and conditions could not have being better at Creggs Road. This was always going to be a close contest with the two Mayo sides unbeaten so far in the league. Castlebar opened the scoring early with two penalties from the boot of outhalf Robbie Cusack. Ballina replied converting a penalty midway through the first half and drew level on the half hour mark. Both teams were evenly matched both in the forwards and in the backs and every ball was contested fiercely in an extremely physical encounter highlighted by the number of cards produced throughout the game with both sides reduced to 14 men for ten-minute periods in each half.
At the half time whistle both sides where level. It was Ballina who drew first blood in the second half adding to their two earlier penalties with a third to pull three points ahead of the visitors and shortly after extended that lead to six points with another penalty to bring the score line to 12 – 6 in the homeside’s favour. Strong running from Castlebar forwards Eugene Butterworth and Alex Goor helped the visitors get back up the pitch. Cusack was again on target converting a penalty to bring his side within three points.
Close to the hour mark saw the only try of the contest, a clearance kick from Castlebar winger Chris Rogan bounced fortunately for the oncoming Castlebar centre Enda Murphy, Murphy collected just inside the Ballina half before starting off on a fine individual run which saw him beat four Ballina defenders and bring play deep into the Ballina 22 before the defence finally caught up with the number 12 who was able to offload to openside flanker Paddy Flannelly. Castlebar now had the defence outnumbered and Flannelly showed his experience to draw in the two remaining defenders before passing out to outhalf Cusack who had a clear run over the line to touch down and give his side a two-point lead. The scoreline now at 14 – 12 to the visitors it remained unchanged until the final whistle was blown. The last 15 minutes was a very tense affair with both sides giving it their all to hold on to their own unbeaten run. Tensions were high and again cards were shown to both sides. Both sides had unsuccessful attempts at goal before the 80 minutes elapsed. Castlebar travel to the Sportsground next Sunday to take on Our Lady’s Boys Club in Round 4. Kick off in Galway is at 3 pm.