Midleton came out on top of this AIL Division 2C contest played at Towns Park last Saturday afternoon. The home side who started eight points adrift of the leaders, looked as if they had halved the gap to four but a very late injury time try saw the visitors take a valuable bonus point with them back to Mayo, that took a little gloss off the home victory.
Still Tom Mulcahy’s side are very much still in the hunt for automatic promotion as they set about their revenge mission right from the off. It took only three minutes for Midleton to breach the visitors defence with Rob Smyth putting Benji Cottle through for a try converted by Stuart Lee, to give the home side the perfect start.
The visitors had an opportunity to reply from a penalty, but Dylan Prendergast was off target with his long-range effort going wide of the posts. Midleton soon followed up and their efforts were again rewarded with a try as good work by Denis Broderick set up a maul, with Midleton rumbling over the line. Mark Corby was the man who emerged with the ball as Stuart Lee added the points to leave Midleton 14-0 in front.
Ballina had plenty of possession but superb defence from the home side kept them out with Aidan Ware, Stephen Hickey and Rian Hogan getting in some great tackles as Midleton preserved their two try advantage to the interval.
Jon Gardiner came into the fray for the home side on the resumption as they continued to hold sway, winning a penalty that saw Stuart Lee extend the advantage to 17 points midway through the second half. Things looked to be going to plan for Tom Mulcahy’s side but then the home side came under strong pressure that yielded penalties in the form of yellow cards for Rory Hogan, Rob Carey and Rob Smyth all fell foul of the referee who showed yellow cards, reducing Midleton to 12 players. Ballina were thrown a lifeline as they attacked at every opportunity and with three minutes remaining Aidan McNulty got over with Dylan Prendergast landing the conversion to make it a ten-point match. Deep into injury time Ballina secured the bonus point with Prendergast kicking a penalty to knock a little gloss off what had been a superb Midleton performance.
There are still six games remaining and while Ballina remain in the driving seat, Midleton can take great encouragement from this win and although still five points behind the leaders, Midleton will feel that they can close the gap. Certainly, they will need Ballina to slip up in one of their games, but as of now it is all still to play for as Midleton topple the leaders Ballina in Towns Park.
Midleton: Rory Horgan, M Daly, D Murray, B Cottle, R Hogan, S Lee, R Smyth, K Brierly, B Moore, M Corby, D Broderick, C Murphy, S Hickey, A Ware and R Carey.
C Ryan, D O’Keeffe, J Gardiner, M Cronin and M Korterik.
Ballina: C O’Neill, A Corduff, C Quinn, K Lindsay, M Cribben, D Prendergast, M Murphy, C Mason, L Sweeney, S Clarke, T Wallace, A West, D Molloy, F Tully and A McNulty.
J Keaveney, B Boland, R Morrow, B McVane and B Nealon.
Referee: Andrew Cole (IRFU)