Barnhall catch a fine victory

November 8, 2018

Barnhall eked out a fine first victory in Division 3 of the AIL against a stout effort from Banbridge at Parsonstown on Saturday. Gaining a bonus point was a small reward for Banbridge who owned most of the possession in a second half dominated by the bad weather and by the excellent display of high catching and ball handling by Barnhall’s fullback Ben McCarthy.

The game was played at a good pace throughout but the expectations were that a dogged affair would be all that could be expected in the conditions. No so as it transpired as both sets of back lines handled the ball exceptionally well and gave a very entertaining display of running football.   Progress in terms of try scoring was stopped in the main by the centres and by both sets of back row forwards who tackled vigorously while at the same time they were sloshing and sliding around in the mud and wet.

The opening score came after ten minutes with Richard Findlay converting a mid range penalty following a good passage of play form the effective Banbridge pack. The visitors three point lead lasted for about twelve minutes when Ben McCarthy was gifted a 25 meter penalty which he slotted home with ease. Few opportunities presented themselves for either team in the first half as both sets of forwards were quite evenly matched. When Banbridge did win possession Findlay looked to test McCarthy with high balls, all of which McCarthy caught and returned with interest. McCarthy cleared his lines time and again or countered with the full support of Mana Harrision and Oliver Savrin. Despite getting no return for hard earned possession Findlay kicked away much of his first half possession into the eagerly awaiting arms of McCarthy. Barnhall were also guilty of similar errors as Leo Quinn also opted to kick out of hand when in the conditions keeping the ball in hand may have yielded a better return. The half time score remained 3 points each.

From the restart Banbridge did keep the ball in the forwards and a siege began which lasted most of the half. On fifteen minutes Barnhall did capture good possession mainly due to the efforts of Barry Dunne who had a fine game in the loose and in line outs. The resulting move forced a penalty out of the visitors and again McCarthy delivered the goods. Barnhall lead 6 points to 3 somewhat against the run of play. Banbridge pushed hard from the restart and camped on the Barnhall line several times but great work from Peter Courtney and Colm Dufficy along with Dunne kept the visitors at bay. The best scoring opportunity came mid way through the half when Harrison chased a kick ahead and was shouldered off the ball and failed to get the touch down over the line. The penalty count was much lower then in the previous outings showing great discipline from both sides. McCarthy missed a kickable opportunity and Findlay missed two close range efforts mid way through the second half.  Banbridge kept pressing the Barnhall pack who were struggling to keep the visitors from overpowering them. With about eighteen minutes remaining of the game Captain Jim Nolan was replaced by Ray Dufficy who made his debut in the AIL for Barnhall. Ray Dufficy a brother of Colm Dufficy and a graduate from the Barnhall mini and youth system performed well in his first outing. Just as the tide was beginning to turn in favour of Banbridge another turnover for Barnhall saw Harrison on his way to the Banbridge line. After floating a well timed pass Harrison was floored with a late tackle about twenty meters out. Harrison was unable to continue the game and was replaced by Conor Harding for the last ten minutes. McCarthy had no difficulty in slotting home his penalty attempt giving the home side a six point cushion in the dying moments of the game. Try as they might Banbridge could not make any dent in the Barnhall advantage and the home side closed out the game 9 points to 3 ahead gaining the first four points of the season.

Commenting after the game Ian Morgan said “ on a day when the world looked like it needed a plumber Banbridge threw the kitchen sink at us and we stood up brilliantly to the challenge” “ All of the games in this division tend to be close and we have had two very close calls that didn’t go our way. Today that changed and we have shown the league what we are made of” commented the delighted head coach. Indeed as the dust settled on the day only one of the games in division three proved to be a high scoring encounter. In all of the other games all of the winning margins were of seven points or less giving the loosing teams a bonus point. With a break in AIL activity while the autumn internationals take place Barnhall will look with confidence to the next instalment of this league in Middleton at the end of November.