Ballyshannon RFC were left to rue a poor final quarter as they let Cookstown pick their pocket at the Lakeside on Saturday.
Ballyshannon RFC 18
Leading 18-3 with ten minutes left, they somehow managed to snatch a draw from the jaws of victory. The result may well have a telling effect on the final league outcome as both these sides are among the challengers for honours.
Coach Ray Gallagher must shoulder some of the blame as two of his kicks led to the clinical Cookstown tries, the first being blocked and later a kick from outside the ‘22’ going straight into touch.
But despite that ‘Shannon should not have lost this game. But they needed help from a number of sources to convince the referee that they had even got a draw as the official had Cookstown winning 18-16. After a number of consultations, even the Cookstown players were in agreement that one of the Ballyshannon tries had been converted.
Overall, it was an entertaining affair with ‘Shannon ahead at the break 11-3 with two Anthony ‘Ghandi’ Boyle penalties and a good breakaway try from Damien Cleary, which was not converted.
The scoreline did not tell the full story as Cleary was instrumental in denying the Cookstown flanker a try as he held him up over the line on 20 minutes.
When Mark Rooney weaved his way through for a wonder try 12 minutes into the second half and it was converted by Anthony Boyle, it seemed as if ‘Shannon would have it very much their own way.
There was nothing to suggest otherwise until ten minutes from the end when Gallagher’s kick was blocked and the Cookstown centre was in for a try which was converted to reduce the margin to 18-10.
Even then it looked a safe home win, but Cookstown got in again within three minutes, the centre again the score and with time almost up the outhalf kicked a very good drop goal to seal an unlikely draw.
There will be some harsh post mortems in the Ballyshannon camp but there will be positives also, not least the performance of young guns such as Evan McGloin, Ray McGowan and especially Charlie Walker, who put in one mighty tackle in the second period
Ballyshannon: Brian Killalea, Alan Prendergast, John Gallagher, Enda Wymbs, Anthony Coughlin, Gary Gilmartin, Darren Gillespie, James O’Donnell, Evan McGloin, Mark Rooney, Richard Gallagher, Anthony Boyle, Damien Cleary, Charlie Walker, Stephen Loughlin. Replacements: Ray McGowan, Dominic Gillespie, Raymond Gallagher, Eoin Halliday, Mark Lyons.