24 May, 14:08
The Irish Rugby Supporters Club is delighted to announce that tickets for the GUINNESS Series 2013 will go on sale on ticketmaster.ie at 10am on Thursday, May 30.
CASTLEBAR 30 BALLINA 14, Glenina
Scorers: Castlebar: Tries: Paul Coady, Mark Staunton, David Staunton; Cons: Richie Feeney 3; Pens: Richie Feeney 2; Drop: Robbie Cusack
Ballina: Try: Andy Moynihan; Pens: Andy Moynihan 3
Four decades after their establishment as a junior rugby club, Castlebar finally have one of Connacht's big three trophies on the clubhouse mantle piece.
Rarely, if ever, have a side from the club delivered as emphatically as this. They played their part in a classic final at a sun-drenched Crowley Park and were worthy winners.
As cup finals go, this one could not be described as run of the mill. It turned out to be an absolutely rip-roaring affair with stunning tries, momentum swings and some bone crunching hits thrown in for good measures.
Castlebar had the slightest of edges in each area and that took its toll on the scoreboard.
Through the boot of Andy Moynihan and against the run of play, Ballina had led 9-7 at half-time but the second half belonged to Castlebar.
They had an answer for everything the north Mayo men threw at them and might well have scored one of the best tries to ever grace a junior final.
Afterwards, Ballina captain Shane Loftus looked a little disconsolate as he waited to speak before the presentation while being treated for a head wound.
The scars of battle will remain for a few days at least. His side did not perform on Sunday, but that should not blot a promising season overall where they came within one score of a Junior Cup final and maintained their top four foothold.
For a brief moment early on, the contest appeared to be taking a predictable pattern. Ballina opened the scoring through the long range boot of Moynihan and looked lively and focused from the out set.
David Newman danced through the cover and made a huge break before the ball was shuffled wide to Patrick Hackett only for the cover defence to make the tackle in the nick of time, but the Castlebar cup demons appeared to be taking a foothold.
Under the posts, while waiting for the resulting play the Castlebar defence discussed the play among themselves, no finger pointing and plenty of hands up, a marked sign of an honest mentality that formed the backbone of this victory.
From there on, mistakes were at a premium in the Castlebar defence.
Their opening try came midway through the first half and was superbly executed.
Mark Staunton, at outside centre, made the break on the first phase of attack, 25 metres from the line having beaten his man.
He had Tadhg Kirby on hand running a well-angled line. He quickly drew the last ditch cover and released Paul Coady for the try.
Ballina finished the half with two penalties in the final five minutes while Ger Prendergast was in the sin-bin for Castlebar but there was hardly a need to panic in their ranks as overall they had edged the first half battle.
Their back row, in particular, was excelling against some formidable opposition.
Prendergast, the abrasive and tireless Enda Murphy and David Staunton were immense for their team and played their part in a fiercely competitive Castlebar pack.
Ruairi Hughes led from the front while the back-line was being served well by Christy Cusack and guided by returning hero Coady.
One man in particular, though, had led the way in the first half and that was full-back Richie Feeney.
He was rock solid under high balls and lethally dangerous on the counter attack in the first half and after just two minutes of the second half, he burst clear on the counter attack from his own try-line.
The narrow side attack sparked a try that will never be forgotten by club members and neutrals alike.
Enda Murphy took play on before finding the superb Fintan Casey, the winger drew the cover and timed a brilliant offload to Feeney, who had supported play superbly.
He brought play well into the Ballina half along the touchline before launching a huge infield pass to David Staunton who cantered home.
Feeney converted for the second time in the day before adding a penalty but even with an eight-point lead, the victory was not assured.
Ballina struck back with a Moynihan try that was inspired by the ever-reliable Mickey Murphy. Castlebar's answer was immediate as Feeney struck a penalty to push the lead out to six points.
The game was still in the balance but within a couple of minutes the Rory Casey-coached side were home and hosed after Mark Staunton intercepted a Newman pass on halfway and race through to score. Cue wild celebrations.
Robbie Cusack added a late drop goal for good measure on a momentous day for Castlebar RFC.
- With thanks to Rob Murphy
BALLINA: A Moynihan; P Hackett, C Quinn, M Clarke, N O'Malley; D Newman, M Murphy; C Melvin, R Kelly, T Tolan, C Forde, D Carrabine, S Loftus, P Timoney, A McNulty.
Replacements used: J O'Connor, P Neary, M Healy, A West, D Howley.
CASTLEBAR: R Feeney; N Byrne, M Staunton, T Kirby, F Casey; P Coady, C Cusack; R Hughes, N Coyle, K Cox, A Goor, D Mulgrew, G Prendergast, E Murphy, D Staunton.
Replacements used: R Cusack, S O'Malley, B Flannery, S Faulkner.
Refeferee: Peter McCarthy (Connacht)