Minor League West
Ballyshannon 21 Enniskillen 3rd XV 24
Enniskillen’s Mighty 3’s made the short journey to South Donegal to face Ballyshannon on Saturday. The match was played on an artificial surface accompanied by a driving wind and hail showers which left the visitors struggling to settle into the game against a well drilled home side. Never the less Skins with the wind at their back had decent territory in the first half, half backs McVitty and Wilkinson used clever kicks when they could to pin the home side in their own half. With a strong wind the lineout was a bit of a lottery but Francie Fee secured good ball for Skins at any opportunity.
Enniskillen had slight dominance in the tight phases of the game, front rowers Breen, Fitzpatrick, Tummon, Dowson and McGurran securing all their primary ball and also 2 strikes against the head. Duncan, Cleary and Willis as usual carried ball hard at the heart of the home side all day too which despite the numerous Ballyshannon offsides kept some momentum for the visitors.
Skins opened the scoring half way through the first half when after several forward charges McVitty found a gap and sniped his way over from 7 yards. Not long after the Enniskillen pack were again on top, once the ball went out the back line Henderson found centre partner Coalter who had no trouble racing in to score Enniskillens second try. Neither score was converted, then just on half time Ballyshannon got their first try after some slack defending, with the conversion it left Enniskillen with a slender 10-7 lead at the break.
Knowing that now they faced the storm Skins knew they all had to step up and take the fight to Ballyshannon. Ten minutes into the second half Phillips made an excellent break from half way and out paced and out fought the covering defence to score a fine try. McVitty added the extras to leave Enniskillen 17-7 up. Ballyshannon tried to kick territory several times but the Skins back line of Cunningham, Kyle, Barton and Dane carried the ball back well, as returning a kick wasn’t an option with the stiff breeze.
Ballyshannon to their credit weren’t finished. Their dangerous quick runners in the centres got another score with 15 minutes to play which was converted. Then with 5 minutes to play they scored another try despite the strong feeling from Enniskillen that there was another Ballyshannon infringement at the breakdown which the referee again refused to act on. So with 5 minutes on the clock Ballyshannon lead 21-17. Skins knew they needed a try to win the match. With a Ballyshannon scrum on halfway, 2 minutes remained on the clock but Enniskillen showed their steely resolve by taking a strike against the head. After several rumbles through the middle Enniskillen got a penalty 10 metres from the try line. A tap from McVitty to Man of the Match Mark Phillips seen him burst over the try line from 10 metres to win the game for Enniskillen.
Skins got their reward of 5 points and although they didn’t play great rugby their spirit and fight was unquestioned. But all the squad know that spirit and fight will not be enough when they face tougher teams in the coming matches.