Ballynahinch v’s Clontarf

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Saturday 15th October 2022 | Ballynahinch vs Clontarf

Rory Butler is tackled by Aitzol King during the AIL clash between Ballynahinch and Clontarf at Ballymacarn Park, Ballynahinch, County Down, Northern Ireland. Photo by DICKSON DIGITAL/John Dickson

Ballynahinch 3  Clontarf 28

Trips to Ballynahinch always leave two lasting impressions.
The first is the warmth of the welcome from the club and the terrific lunch served to visitors who have bounced there way across the drumlins of Co Down to enjoy one of Irish Club rugby’s unique local experiences.
The second is the weather. One of the first assessments made when the fixtures are released in July is to check when the visit to ‘Hinch is . As in, what month? Anything outside Nov to Feb is greeted with a sigh of relief as generally that means you only have a stiff breeze to manage … a visit within that four month window could mean anything up to and including hypothermia.

Clontarf played into the stiff breeze for the first half and gave a textbook display of how to manage the elements. Their ball control and fielding was outstanding and their compact shape never allowed play to go wide where mistakes cause the chaos that the home side needed to deal with the superior power of the visitors.
Ballynahinch we’re forced to live off scraps and were denied any flow of possession to develop momentum . At the end of the half when they decided to kick for points it was a tacit acceptance that the had been outthought and out played despite having the elements massively in their favour. Clontarf turned with the wind only 3 nil behind.

Ballynahinch started the second half making ground up the left hand side but lost possession from a line out and when Clontarf 9 Angus Lloyd found a gap play moved into the home 22 where the game moved into scrum and repeat mode. The first was awarded to Ballynahinch after a Clontarf knock on at the home line and when the Clontarf scrum shunted the home scrum backwards over their own line the put in was awarded to Clontarf who maintained possession for a full 15 minutes before the referee awarded a penalty try for repeated infringement at the set piece.
Straight after the resulting kick off Clontarf were back again and after a few phases Cormac Daly saw space where there should have been a pillar and went in untouched . To their credit this setback sparked life into Ballynahinch and they spent some time in the Clontarf 22. Some superb defence, notably from Seni O’Reilly and Noah Sheridan kept them at bay and when they regrouped Cian O’Donohoe was alert to a tired back line move and snaffled an interception to round off a superb comeback performance after injury. The bonus was secured immediately afterwards when a turnover saw Ben Griffen throw an outrageous dummy and put Conor Kearns away for the fourth try and a 28 3 bonus point win.

So, three from three and a two weeks break to take stock . Next game is home to Shannon on the 29th.