Battle of the Blues at Ballymoney

Ballymoney Ladies 1st XV 5 – 22 Ballyshannon Ladies 1st XV

The Ballymoney Ladies got off to a flying start in their first home game of the 2012 Ulster Development League season, but came crashing down to earth when faced with a much-improved Ballyshannon front row.

On the back of a 0 – 29 win against Newry in their previous match, the TOON Ladies were in expectant form, and indeed showed this at the start of the match, with an empathic early first try from Caitlin Barry.

At this early stage, things were looking good for the home team, and indeed, for a lot of the first half they were winning the crunching battles up front. Unfortunately, these efforts never resulted in anything, as too many spilled balls and penalties were needlessly given away.

Capitalising on this, it was not long before the Ballyshannon Ladies stretched the Ballymoney defence to breaking point, allowing their number 10, Siobhan Couglin, to break the white wash to bring the scores level. A successful conversion, which ricocheted off the right upright saw the visitors sneak into the lead by 2 points.

Undeterred, Ballymoney battled on, and eventually found themselves within site of the visitors’ try line. With repeated front row surges, quick recycling and back in for more body crunching forward momentum, it looked inevitable that the buckling Ballyshannon defence was going to give way. Unfortunately, all this intense effort went to waste, as the charging home side gave a penalty away.

The first half was a very physical affair, with both sides evenly matched. However, Ballymoney gave away too many penalties and opportunities, and thus entered into the half-time interval a conversion behind.

The second half was going to turn out to be a battle of attrition for the home side. Right from the kick off, Ballyshannon showed their intent and drove Ballymoney into their own half, where much of the remaining match play would take place.

Ballyshannon now seemed to have the upper hand within the scrums and forward play with their front row forward, Dearbhla Fox, taking the game to the home side.

A somewhat dejected Ballymoney did not seem to have an answer for this, and indeed, a widely misguided pass, from a ruck, saw Ballyshannon’s number 8, Anna Rafferty, gather, and lackadaisically stroll in for the visitor’s second try.

Ballymoney’s back line defence did hold for long periods, with some excellent tackles from the likes of Samara McAlister, Laura Dooey and Christine Kirkpatrick. However, it was the inability of the home team to clear their lines and get out of their own half, which furthered their demise.

Wave after wave of attack from Ballyshannon, resulted in a third try, run in by Michell Bowring, for the visitors.

A glimmer of hope emerged for the TOON Ladies towards the latter stages of the secondhalf. Still stuck in their own 22, a pass out wide to Samara McAlister, saw the outside centre charge up the touchline, whilst evading some of the defensive tackles. Unfortunately, with

lack of support, the run came to an abrupt end, with a large hit going in.

Things looked poised for a 5 – 17 win to the away team, but for some reason, in the 80th minute some of the Ballymoney Ladies just appeared to relax for a moment, allowing Mairead Carty to push over for Ballyshannon’s final try and end to the game, for a compelling victory.

Ballymoney Team: Emma McCauley, Andrea Barkley, Julie Newton, Jen Murphy, Julie

Greene, Jenni Lindsay, Vicky Wade, Gill Powell(c), Samantha Hickinson, Caitlin Barry,

Samara McAlister , Claire Graham, Laura Dooey, Emma Elliot, Christine Kirkpatrick.