Despite a very brave effort in Monastery Field, Ballina came up just short on a scoreline of 12-11 against Connemara on Tuesday afternoon when they lost out to an injury time drop goal from the boot of Shane Sweeney which sealed the league title for the Gaeltacht All Blacks, but confirmed that Ballina will now have to battle for survival in Division 1A of the Connacht Junior League in the promotion/relegation play-off.
Ballina faced an almost impossible task if they wanted to avoid the play-off before the game even kicked off. On Sunday last Galwegians routed OLBC on a scoreline of 63-0 which left Ballina needing to win by 53 points against a side who needed either a win or a draw to claim the title. But the north Mayo outfit did not just throw their hat at the game and accept what was inevitable, they put it up to their hosts right to the death, and only for Sweeney’s last gasp kick, they would have won the game and handed the title to Moinvea.
The Heffernan Park side will now have to face into an all Mayo battle against Castlebar who came second in Division 1B for a place at the top table of Connacht junior rugby in a few weeks time.
Cawley Cup kicks-off on Sunday
The focus now turns to the Cawley Cup for Mayo sides after the completion of the league last weekend. Four Mayo sides are in quarter-final action on Sunday, with the meeting of Westport and Castlebar getting top billing on the afternoon. The Bulls are busy preparing for their Connacht Junior Cup final meeting with Monivea on Easter Sunday, April 5, and a game against their local rivals Castlebar a fortnight out will be good preparation for them. Castlebar will be looking to use the game to tune themselves up for their promotion/relegation play-off against Ballina in a few weeks time.
Ballina will host Monivea in Heffernan Park, the north Mayo men did all they could on Tuesday to hand their visitors the league title when they were just pipped by Connemara, and with Monivea having a Connacht Junior Cup final on the horizon, they will fancy their chances of turning them over. Which will be a boost in their own preparations for their play-off against Castlebar.
Ballyhaunis will travel to Loughrea for their quarter-final clash on Sunday and will be hoping that they can follow up their 15-0 win on the last day of the league season with another win on the road that will send them into the final.