CASTLEBAR vs BALLINASLOE – Cawley Cup Rd 1 – Saturday Sept 1st
Castlebar Senior Rugby team kicked off the new season hosting Ballinasloe at Cloondeash on Saturday last in the first Round of the Cawley Cup competition. The visitors settled quickly and were awarded a scrum inside Castlebar 22 and after a quick pass to their fly Half, Andrew Mannion spotted a gap in Castlebar's defensive line and ran in for a try which was converted to give the visitors an early 7-nil advantage. Ballinasloe were then awarded a penalty which Niall Staunton scored to bring their lead to 10 - nil after 15 minutes of play. Castlebar finally got on the score board with a penalty awarded on the 22 which full back Ronan Conway put between the posts to leave the score 10-3 to the visitors. Having gained possession in their own 22 Ballinasloe were again penalised for jumping into a tackle and Castlebar's Ronan Conway closed the gap further to leave the score at 10-6 to the visitors.
Castlebar were fielding several new players at senior level, namely - Sam Hastings at Fly Half, Conor Carter at Inside Center and Frank Walsh at Flanker and it took some time for the team to settle into the game and find their rhythm. Fintan Murphy also made a welcomed return to the squad at Tight head Prop.
Eventually Castlebar took the lead having secured the ball from a Ballinasloe lineout and when the ball was passed to David Staunton, he skillfully avoided tackles from numerous Ballinasloe defenders to run in a try under the posts which was duly converted by Ronan Conway to leave Castlebar 13 - 10 ahead. Castlebar were unlucky not to score with some excellent scrummaging and attacking play inside the Ballinasloe 22 but the score remained the same to half time.
The second half started with Castlebar introducing yet another new debut senior player in Daniel Plaster who took up a position in the center. Ballinasloe started the half in attacking mode, but it was Castlebar who would dominate the second half with some excellent performances to secure three more trys. The first came from a passing error from Ballinasloe where they fumbled the ball and it fell to Sam Hastings who offloaded it quickly to Conor Carter who sprinted down the sideline to secure the points in the corner, bringing the score to 18-10. The second try came from a penalty awarded to Castlebar on the oppositions tryline which was taken quickly by Ronan Conway and the ball was passed out along the attacking line to reach Jack Rowland who got over in the corner to bring the score line to 23-10 and put the game out of Ballinasloe's reach. However, the visitors never dropped their heads and tested Castlebar's defensive line on a number of occasions. Castlebar also introduced James Staunton and Mark Staunton along with Gavin Sullivan and Ronan Irwin during the second half using their full squad. However, with the game approaching 75 minutes and Ballinasloe on the attack, the ball was intercepted by Sam Hastings who ran to the corner to put the final score at 28-10 and secure a comprehensive and deserved win for Castlebar.
Castlebar now progress to the Cawley Cup Semi Final versus Westport with the game scheduled for Saturday next 8th at 2 pm in Westport. All local support welcomed at what will be no doubt be another entertaining game of rugby. Castlebar will play their league Rugby in the top J1A division this year having been promoted last season and will host Galwegians at home on Sunday September 16th in the first league encounter.
Castlebar Team: Sean Tonra, Darragh King, Fintan Murphy, Matthew Staunton, Daire Mulgrew, Frank Walsh, Martin Moran, David Staunton, Damien Togher, Sam Hastings, Fintan Casey, Conor Carter, Luke Staunton, Jack Rowland and Ronan Conway.
Subs used; Daniel Plaster, James Staunton, Mark Staunton, Ronan Irwin and Gavin Sullivan.