It was another weekend of mixed fortunes for the Mayo sides in the top level of junior rugby in the province with Ballina running out big winners and Westport going down by 21 points on the road.
Ballina hosted bottom of the table OLBC in Heffernan Park and they put their opponents to the sword running out 32-0 winners thanks to a hat-trick of tries from winger David Brunker. The north Mayo men touched down three more times with Michael Murphy, Conor Mason, and Richard Kelly all getting in on the act. Ballina only managed to add one conversion from their six tries, but the bonus point they picked up will make up for that disappointment.
When Westport met Monivea in Carrowholly at the tail end of September, the Bulls pulled off a surprise 19-10 win in the third round of the league, this time around Monivea made no mistake and ran up 36 points against JP Walsh’s side in the Castle Grounds. Monivea ran in five tries, with Ger O’Connor adding the extras four times from the conversion attempts. Westport did manage to cross the line twice in the second half with Liam Scahill and Kevin Corcoran both touching down, but the game was over as a contest at that stage as Monivea had built up a commanding lead.
It will be Derby day on Sunday, with Ballina making the trek to the southwest to take on Westport in Carrowholly. When the sides met in Heffernan Park at the start of October the visitors were the winners on a score of 15-5, thanks to a brace of tries from Kevin Corcoran and the penalty and conversion from full back Matt Dempsey’s boot. Ballina’s only score that day came from a David Brunker try. Ballina will be hoping that they can return the favour when they turn up on Sunday in Westport
Castlebar pull clear in second
With just four rounds to go in the 1b league, Castlebar moved themselves three points clear of Loughrea in the race for second place. The boot of Ronan Conway was a key factor in Castlebar getting the eight point win which denied Loughrea a losing bonus point. The visitors got off to a great start and went in leading by 12-3 at the turnaround with Conway kicking the only points for Castlebar in the opening 40 minutes. Conway cut the gap back to six points with a penalty early in the second half, but Loughrea replied shortly afterwards with their final points of the day. From then on it was all Castlebar with Andrew Wooton touching down and Paul Jennings also crossing the whitewash to push Castlebar into the lead, with Conway adding the extras both times. Conway had the last say late on when his long range penalty had the distance to put eight between the sides and send Castlebar into second spot. Tomorrow evening Castlebar will wrap up their pre-Christmas schedule with a trip to Creggs at 7.30pm. When the teams met in Cloondeash in early October, Castlebar has 12 points to spare over Creggs, more of the same will do nicely for Peter Bracken’s team this time around.
Last Sunday also saw a Mayo Derby in division 1b, with Ballinrobe hosting Ballyhaunis at the green and it was the home team who came out on top. Ballyhaunis led at the break thanks to a Declan Murphy try, Gary Patterson tacked on two penalties in the second half, but Ballinrobe responded with two tries from Jack Winters, and a last gasp Oisin Gill penalty put Ballinrobe into the lead for the only time that matters, when the final whistle is blown. Ballyhaunis will be entertaining table toppers Buccaneers on Sunday afternoon and Ballinrobe have a short trip to Tuam to take on the north Galway side who are just three points behind them in the table.