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Ballynahinch 26 - Naas 41   01/11/2016

Ballynahinch 26 - Naas 41

After a three week break Naas resumed their All-Ireland League campaign with an away fixture against Ballynahinch. Naas were under no illusion about how difficult this assignment was going to be, and one look at the squad selected by the home side emphasised the point. Of the 20 players picked by Ballynahinch no less than eight of them are currently members of the Ulster Senior squad. However after defeating Shannon in the previous round Naas travelled with confidence, and turned in a performance that left their hosts stunned.

After only two minutes Ballynahinch ran a ball from their own goal line and this set the tone for the day. Both sides strived to attack at every possible opportunity and in doing so produced a high scoring, free flowing affair that kept the large crowd richly entertained.
After 11 minutes the home side struck first. Stuart Morrow made a clean break in midfield, he off loaded to Sam Windsor who scored beside the posts. The conversion by the latter was a formality and Ballynahinch led 7-0.

This was not the start Naas wanted nor needed but within nine minutes they had responded with two super tries of their own. Firstly Fionn Carr caught a high kick on the half-way line. He beat a couple of would be tacklers before passing to Peter Osborne, who split the Ballynahinch defence. He found captain Will O'Brien who scored near the posts.

Then following great work by David Benn the ball was quickly transferred to Fionn Carr who dived over. With the ever accurate Peter Osborne converting both tries, Naas now led by 14-7.

However Naas failed to deal with the subsequent re-start, which led to a Ballynahinch penalty and a yellow card for Stephen Kinneavy. The home side were quick to exploit their extra man advantage. They took a scrum and quickly moved the ball out to winger Davy Nicholson who scored in the corner. A superb conversion by Jonny McPhilips left the scores level after half an hour.
The rest of the half belonged to Naas, who tagged on two further tries to have the try scoring bonus point secured before the break. On 33 minutes Ballynahinch were penalised for a high tackle. Peter Osborne kicked into the corner and from the subsequent line-out the forwards hammered away at the home defence until Eoin Walsh dived over. The conversion by Osborne was successful and we then saw a brilliant individual try by Paulie Tolofua. As Ballynahinch were trying to respond to the latest Naas score he picked up a loose ball fully 60 yards out from the posts. Showing a tremendous burst of speed that most backs would be proud of, he took off and never looked like been caught before scoring the fourth try for Naas. Although the conversion was missed as referee John Carvill blew the half-time whistle Naas led by 26-14.

Two tries within six minutes midway during the second half sealed victory for Naas. On 53 minutes Johne Murphy  made great ground through the Ballynahinch midfield. The ball was then carried with purpose by Graham Reynolds and Jason Harney, before it was moved to Rob O'Connor who dived in at the corner.
Then on 59 minutes Ballynahinch launched a dangerous attack close to the Naas line. However Johne Murphy intercepted and raced clear for 40 yards. Knowing he was about to be caught he put in a clever, diagonal kick for Fionn Carr to run onto. He gathered the ball and took play to just short of the Ballynahinch line before being tackled. When he looked up David Benn was on his shoulder to take the pass and score. The latter had covered the length of the pitch to get into that position and summed up the determination and never say die attitude in the Naas play. The conversion by Osborne stretched the lead to 38-14.
The game was now over as a contest and although Ballynahinch scored two consolation tries by Keith Dickson and Kenny Morton, Naas had the final say with an Osborne penalty to leave the final score at 41-26 to Naas.
All in all this was a tremendous result and display by Naas. The victory lifts them up to fourth in the table and shows that they are capable of competing with anybody.
Next up for Naas is a home fixture against UCC next Saturday, November 5th. Kick-Off is at 2.30pm and all support will be greatly appreciated.

Naas: 15. Peter Osborne, 14. Rob O'Connor, 13. Johne Murphy, 12. Henry Bryce, 11. Fionn Carr, 10. Michael Skelton, 9. Max Whittingham, 1. Adam Coyle, 2. Graham Reynolds, 3. Jason Harney, 4. Stephen Kinneavy, 5. David Benn, 6. Paul Monahan, 7. Will O'Brien, 8. Eoin Walsh. Replacements Used: Warren Larkin, Jordan Duggan, Paulie Tolofua, Andrew Kearney, Ben Swindlehurst.
Ballynahinch: 15. Jonny McPhilips, 14. Stephen McCauley, 13. Stuart Morrow, 12. Jordan Grattan, 11. Davy Nicholson, 10. Sam Windsor, 9. Angus Lloyd, 1. Jonny Simpson, 2. Jonny Murphy, 3. Craig Trenier, 4. Kenny Morton, 5. John Donnan, 6. Conor Joyce, 7. Connor Phillips, 8. Mike Graham.



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