Sligo 10 – O.L.B.C. 20
OLBC created a major shock when they defeated Sligo in the Galway Sportsgrounds on Sunday last in the Connacht Junior 1 League. Played in damp and breezy conditions, this game only came to life in the final quarter as Sligo scored two late tries, but alas their comeback was too late, as OLBC held on for a deserved, if unexpected victory.
After last week’s defeat by Monivea, Sligo’s management were optimistic that their team would bounce back and garner some league points. News that Monivea had been surprisingly defeated on Friday night by Tuam should have been a major morale booster for Sligo, as victory here would have restored the league leadership to them. However, from the kick-off, it became apparent that the team had not recovered its early season form. The pack which performed creditably last week, struggled badly, with the scrum, in particular, being under pressure. With OLBC regularly wheeling on Sligo’s put in, and even taking a strike against the head, Sligo suffered badly in the set pieces.
While Sligo’s line-out was quite reliable, their mauling game was inferior to their opponents’, so with a retreating scrum and a defective maul, Sligo rarely produced the type of ball to launch their backs. Unfortunately, the backs, when in possession never really threatened, as their game was peppered with handlig errors, which certainly took the sting out of their most promising moves.
Sligo suffered a major set-back in the 29th. minute of the first when out-half, Jordan Farrington had to be removed to hospital with a dislocated shoulder. The 20 year old Kiwi took the field following intensive treatment to last week’s ankle injury, and sadly this latest injury probably finishes his season, as he will now require surgery to his shoulder. With the score at 0-0 at this stage, Farrington was probably the one player capable ofÂ providing the guile and the ingenuity to unlock the well organised OLBC defence. On his departure, Sligo’s re-arranged attacking attacking formation only occasionally offered a threat.
Sligo, who had the benefit of the diagonal wind in the first half, launched two dangerous attacks in this period, but on both occasions their efforts proved fruitless, when a try seemed imminent. In the 8th. minute, hooker Ross Mannion was deemed to have knocked on at the line, after the pack had put a number of phases together, while in the 32nd. minute, a great break by full-back, Gary Boland was held up on the OLBC line, and then Sligo were penalised for allegedly holding on after the tackle.
This was to prove to be as good as it got for Sligo. OLBC introduced Ciaran Coyle after the break and he proved to be inspirational from the out-half position. The substitute had the game’s opening score in the 15th. minute of the second half when the referee awarded a penalty 30 metres out for ‘hands in the ruck’, when it was patently obvious that an OLBC player had knocked on the ball, causing it to emerge on Sligo’s side. In the 28th minute, Sligo’s scrum problems were cruelly exposed when they were shunted over their own line from 10 metres out, with No.8, Pete Small touching down, and Coyle added the points. Sligo now trailed by 1`0-3, but were at last matching their opponents territorially.
In the 30th. minute they conceded a bizarre penalty. Centre, Andrew Feeney having done very well to block a clearance on half-way, was rightly penalised for a deliberate knock-on, when he could have taken possession of the ball, and Ciaran Coyle landed the huge 50 metre kick. Feeney made amends in the 33rd minute when he scored in the left corner, following Sligo’s best back-line movement of the day.
However, in the 38th. minute, some very sloppy defending allowed substitute, Luke O’Donnell gather John McDonagh’s clever chip through and score at the corner flag, with Coyle superbly converting. In Injury time, Sligo surged upfield, and with the pack finally getting their maul working, they went over in the corner, with captain, Peter Mullan touching down. Gavin Foley’s difficult conversion rebounded back off an upright.
Few Sligo players will retain happy memories of this game, although Cathal Culhane and Gavin Foley tackled tigerishly. They certainly missed Warner Wilders’ scavenging skills at the breakdown, Joe Kelly’s solid scrummaging and the mercurial Farrington, after his premature departure.
Man of the Match:Ciaran Coyle [OLBC]
Sligo: Gary Boland, Andrew Feeney, Cathal Culhane, Gavin Foley, Roger Burrows, Jordan Farrington, Billy Leahy, Martin Feeney, Ross Mannion, Adrian McHale, Jamie Livingstone, Trevor Sweeney, Gary Conneally, Peter Mullan [c.] Andrew Williams. Subs: Ronan Gillespie for A.McHale, David Gerrity for J. Farrington, Neil Williams for M. Feeney.
OLBC: Peter McDonagh, Killian O’Brien, Stuart Cook, John McSweeney, Damien Connor, John McDonagh, Greg Faherty, Dermot Costello [c.], Karl Collins, John Barry, Cathal Burke, James Moran, Brendan O’Boyle, Pete Small, Rob Lennon. Subs: Jason Molloy, Luke O’Donnell, Ciaran Coyle.
Referee: Jeff Allen [Buccaneers]