Match Report - Aubrey Cup - St Stephens Day 2011
Aubrey Bourke Cup on St Stephen's Day
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PRESIDENT'S XV 5
(In Heffernan Park, Ballina)
Photographs to Follow
After an absence of two years the annual St Stephen's day game between the President's XV and Ballina for the Aubrey Bourke Cup was played last Monday in front of a very large crowd, who witnessed a very entertaining and competitive game of rugby.
The desire amongst rugby followers in Ballina for this event to happen was been palpable all week and as it became increasingly obvious that the pitch wasn't going to fall victim to the harsh weather that had prevailed the last two years the anticipation grew. The number and quality of players that were available to club President Marc Loftus is testament to the regard in which the fixture is held. They included players like David Mescal and Ronan O'Malley, players who played with Ballina last year, including Phillip Rowe who was so outstanding at flanker in Ballina's Cawley cup winning side but lined out at centre for the President's initially, top scoring centre Chris O'Neill (now plying his trade for Westcombe Park in Surrey, England) and tight head Prop Tom Tolan (now with Corinthians), DLSP's Francis Cooney and Galwegians David Clarke, Connacht and Ireland's U-20 and U19's players David Heffernan and Brian Moylette, in what was regarded as one of the strongest President's teams ever assembled.
It was no surprise then when Marc Loftus's side took the game to Ballina early on with half backs Mescal and Clarke dictating proceedings. Up front David Rowe and Ross Farrell were prominentand hooker John Keaveney found his targets well in the lineout. The scrums were solid so a good supply of possession was coming the Presidents way. Ballina showed great composure and soaked up this early pressure admirably. They stuck to their systems and coped very well. Individuals stepped up to the challenge very well.
Michael Allen put in a tremendous tackle on his opposite number Phillip Rowe which epitomised the effort being made by his side. Rodney O'Donnell was unerring throwing in to the lineout and worked hard around the pitch. The Ballina scrum was equally solid with Ciaran Melvin and Paul Newell not only doing well in the set piece but being very industrious around the field, carrying the ball very well for Ballina. Wingers Francis Conroy and Trevor Moore were always looking for work and full back Kevin McCarron was confident and assured when gathering the ball, clearing his lines when necessary, and counter attacking when possible.
Gradually Ballina began to assert themselves and impose their pattern on the game as they put phases together. As the pressure mounted on the President's they began to concede penalties and twenty minutes into the game one was conceded within the range of Ballina's out-half Andy Moynihan. An extremely well struck kick from Moynihan sailed between the posts to give Ballina the first points of the game securing a 3-0 lead. This remained the score up to half time, and although the personnel changed frequently on the pitch with rolling subs, the competition remained as intense on the pitch.
For Ballina scrum half Michael Murphy and the back row of Laurence Leonard, Orrie Collins and Aidan McNulty stood out, while David Heffernan and Phillip Rowe (who moved into the pack from the centre) stood out in the forwards, while Mescal, Clarke and full back Robert Forbes were impressive in the backline. In the second half Ballina continued to become more dominant, but the tenacity of the defensive efforts of their opponents kept them at bay. Francis Conroy had two very difficult penalty kick opportunities against a gusting wind which drifted narrowly wide, but Ballina remained encamped in the President's half and eventually Conroy got his reward after a series of penalties close to the Presidents line where Aidan McNulty, James O' Connor and Richard Kelly all went close to carrying the ball over, the ball was eventually moved wide quickly and some excellent handling by Michael Allen and Jerome Harrimate put Francis Conroy away and the speedy Ballina winger raced in for the first try of the match. He was unable to add the difficult conversion from the touchline so Ballina led 8-0. Ballina were relentless in the pressure they applied now and kept the President's pinned down inside their own half.
When the Presidents tried to run the ball out from their own 22 they paid a high price when Jerome Harrimate intercepted a pass and raced in to score under the posts. Kevin McCarron added the conversion so Ballina's lead was stretched to 15-0. The President's weren't going to finish a game without recording a score and they renewed their efforts with Simon Wade who was now playing at out half orchestrating things they were rewarded when Galwegians player, flanker Isaac O'Grady couldn't be stopped from driving over the line after a series of pick and drives following a lineout close to Ballina's line. The conversion was missed and that was to be the last score of a very exciting game, giving Michael Murphy's side victory after a very entertaining and fiercely competitive match.
The cup was presented to Michael by Aubrey Bourke's niece Jenny Bourke and in his speech Michael spoke about what a wonderful and unique occasion this is each year for Ballina.
Ballina's next game is away to Castlebar on Sunday the 8th January and this match will have been excellent preparation for the resumption of the league.
BALLINA; Kevin McCarron, Francis Conroy, Jerome Harrimate, Michael Allen, Trevor Moore, Andrew Moynihan, Michael Murphy (C), Ciaran Melvin, Rodney O'Donnell, Paul Newell, Connor Forde, Mark Healy, Orrie Collins, Laurence Leonard, Aidan McNulty, Richard Kelly, Liam Lynch, Stephen Dolan, Robert Melody, Cormac Quinn, Donal Gillivary, James O'Connor, Russell O'Brien.
PRESIDENT'S XV; Robert Forbes, Mark Jennings, Chris O'Neill, Phillip Rowe (C), Phillip Thornton, David Clarke, David Mescal, David Rowe, John Keaveny, Tom Tolan, Ross Farrell, David Heffernan, Kenneth Forde, Brian Moylette, Craig Farrell, Connor Dever, Robert Durcan, David Brunker, Cian Mullarkey, Brendan Barrett, Paul McCreanor, Simon Wade, Isaac O'Grady, Robert Durcan, Arthur West, Andrew West, Ronan O'Malley, Alan Jennings, Francis Cooney, Ryan Gregory, Daniel Carrabine.
REFEREE; Alistair Brown.