Four tries from the outstanding Beibhinn Parsons gave Ballinasloe victory in a gripping Girls Under-18 Cup final clash with Westport. Westport had been hoping to make it a Sportsground double for Mayo teams after Ballina’s earlier success in the under-15 final but Ballinasloe, who had lost that earlier decider, made amends in style to take the honours.
Parsons opened the scoring for Ballinasloe with the first of her four brilliant tries after just two minutes, racing home from half-way before captain Meabh Deely added the extras. Westport responded with a try from flanker Rachel Cox but Parsons went over again soon after to leave it 14-5 to Ballinasloe after 15 minutes.
Westport came back into contention shortly before half-time as Rosa Kinsella crashed over from short range. An excellent Cox conversion narrowed the gap to 14-12 as they went off at half-time.
Westport took the lead for the first time early in the second half as replacement out-half Aisling Browne showed great speed to cross over, and despite Parsons completing her hat-trick on 50 minutes with another score from long range, a fourth Westport try from the outstanding Lily Brady looked to have done enough for her side.
Unfortunately for Westport, Ballinasloe and Parsons weren’t quite finished. She struck for her fourth try on 70 minutes and it was the pick of the bench, an intercept from all of 80 metres returned for a score under the sticks. Deely’s conversion put Ballinasloe in front and, despite Westport’s best efforts late on, that was the way it stayed until the final whistle.
BALLINASLOE: Aine Galvin, Aisling Murphy, Beibhinn Parsons, Niamh Kenny, Natasha Hynes, Meabh Deely, Hannah Gullane; Aoife Dudgeon, Claudia McNicholas, Macy McDermott, Jordan Hopkins, Abigail O’Hara, Laura Finn, Sarah Dent, Emily Gavin.
Replacements: Amie Hawkins (for Hopkins 60), Mia Fahy (for McNicholas 68), Rebecca Galvin (for McDermott 68).
WESTPORT: Tara McNulty, Ava Ryder, Natalie Nevin, Shona Kennedy, Emer Cafferkey-Molloy, Laoise Conway, Muireann Cawley; Claire Coghlan, Rosa Kinsella, Kayley Mannion, Grace Browne-Moran, Leah Moran, Rachel Cox, Lily Brady, Eva McCormack.
Replacements: Mary McLoughlin (for Mannion 17), Aisling Browne (for Conway 22), Jessica Loftus (for Coghlan 28-34), Susannah Horgan (for Brady 60), Nina Mathestien (for Cawley 70).
REF: Pearse O’Malley