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All-Ireland quest back on track for Accies

Thursday, 13 April 2017

OMAGH Accies re-ignited their dream of gaining promotion to the A-Ireland League with a 17-7 win over Ballina at Heffernan Park on Saturday.

Ballina ...7
Omagh Accies ...17

Like their Connaght opponents, Omagh knew that victory was essential is they were to stay in the running for promotion to the national league, and so the stakes were very high as both sides stepped onto the perfect sward of Heffernan Park under cloudless skies.

Accies were without the services of Lee Murphy and Yonga Taleni, while Ballina went into the game without their two second-rows Richard Morrow and Sam Liebezeit.

The home side began with the weak wind on their backs, and hit the front within a minute. A lineout on the left was the platform for a scorching move to be launched through the middle and when Calum Quinn evaded three tackles and found Ciaran Rouse on his shoulder the latter squeezed over for a fine try.

Darragh Whyte added the conversion and Ballina were off and running.

Omagh were stunned by the setback and took time to settle, with their handling and their link-up play not up to scratch, and some miscues in the line-out.

The Mayo men were on the front foot with Conor Mason to the fore as Mickey Murphy and Quinn looked to unlock the guests for another try.

The pressure paid off and after 12 minutes Ballina were awarded a penalty on the left. Unfortunately, Darragh Whyte's effort came back off the post and Omagh survived.

Three minutes later, Ballina were hit by a hammer-blow when O'Neill had to leave the field with a rib injury. Whyte went to full-back with Alex Corduff coming in on the wing, but the hosts were rattled for a few minutes and Omagh drove forward.

The Tyrone men threatened the home line and were awarded a penalty after 25 minutes, which brought them back into it, 7-3.

Ballina responded and drove down the pitch and camped on the Omagh line. It looked like the men in green would get their second try in the right corner but they couldn't find the extra inches required and there was no addition to the scores before half time. That failure to get into double figures would prove pivotal in the end as the sun-splashed crowd enjoyed the fare on offer.

The second period saw Omagh take the initiative and play the much better rugby, during the last 40 minutes.

Second rows Johhnie Sproule and Jamie Sproule took on the home side around the fringes and the back line looked dangerous whenever it was moved wide.

Ballina had a number of close shaves as the visitors looked for the lead but eventually the dam broke midway through the half when Johnny Sproule crashed over and the added conversion made it 10-7 to the Ulster side.

Ballina tries to get back into contention but the home side couldn't spend enough time in the Omagh half to build phases as the tackling of the Ulster men and their line-speed made it more and more difficult.

The visitors extended their lead on 75 minutes and when Mervyn Edgar danced over for a try, and it was all over.

Ballina never threw in the towel and a darting run from Quinn with Brunker on his shoulder almost got a consolation try but it wasn't to be and Omagh deservedly went home with the spoils.

Victory over Clonemll in the final game would set up a play-off with either Boyne or Kanturk for a place in Division 2C next season.

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