Luckless Sligo saw their 100% record lost in rare and disappointing circumstances when they were held to a scoreless draw at Carrowholly in Westport on Sunday. It is the first scoreless draw in JL1 this season, but does not reflect fairly on what was an entertaining, tense encounter if somewhat error-strewn. It was a game that Sligo dominated but a combination of heroic Westport defending and squandered opportunities saw them fail to win for the first time this season. Sligo were unchanged from the side that comprehensively defeated Corrib two weeks ago, with Tongan star Mataele Fifita continuing in the centres and club stalwart Gavin Foley at out-half. In their last encounter Westport produced a tremendous team performance to shock OLBC by 18-3 in Galway, and went into this game full of confidence. This was seen as the toughest test Sligo had faced so far this season, and so it proved as a dour Westport outfit along with awful weather conditions saw Sligo misfire.
Sligo 2nds travelled to Westport this weekend where they defeated a tough Westport side by 14-0. Sligo opened the scoring with a fantastic team try which was started and finished by Simon Coulter on his return from injury. Out-half Warner Wilders added the conversion. Sligoâ€™s forwards were dominant in the loose, with Ralph Lucey, Ciaran Stafford and Dermot Kiely prominent. It was Ralph who added the games second score, powering through the Westport defence to touch down. Again Wilders added the extras. Sligo led 14-0 at the interval before both sides made changes to give everyone a run. The second half was a tighter affair with both sides showing plenty of promise, and both having chances but neither side managed to convert these chances, leaving the final score 14-0 to Sligo. Sligo coaches Stephen Allay and Tony Delahunty were delighted with their sideâ€™s performance, as it featured many new faces who were helped along by the more experienced members of the panel. With some hard work and more match practice this is Sligo side that could challenge for honours later in the season. Anyone who wishes to play for the 2nds, no matter what level of experience they possess, is asked to attend training or contact one of the coaches.
Sligo: Simon Connolly, Mark Devane, Rob Ongirski, Jason Coulter, Padraig Flanagan, Warner Wilders, Steve Allay, Andy Wall, Ciaran Stafford, Dermot Kiely, Mick Ryan, Gary Conneelly, Ralph Lucey, Brian Kelly, David Wall, Tom Wall.
This weekend saw all Sligo youth teams in action with some teams even playing twice over the weekend!
The major success story of the weekend was a superb performance by our unbeaten U18 side that travelled to Athlone on Sunday to face a much-vaunted Buccaneers side in their fiercest test so far. The first half was a tight affair with both sides trying to attack, but being stifled not only by the opposition but also the horrendous weather conditions. At one point the referee had to call both teams off the pitch due to a huge hail storm for over two minutes. Sligoâ€™s forwards were superb, taking the game to their Buccaneers counterparts while Sligoâ€™s backs defended heroically with the teams going in scoreless at the break.
Sligo RFC U15â€™s came up against their opposite numbers in Ballinasloe last Sunday in an away fixture against the Galway club. This was the first of two scheduled league matches between the clubs, so the fight was on to win the 2 points available for the winning side.
On a seriously wintry day, both teams came out of the changing rooms determined to win, and the match was hard fought from start to finish, drawing comparisons by the spectators with the recent Munster game against the All-Blacks. Sligo got things moving early on in the proceedings, with a well-deserved try from captain James Mullen at Wing. Strong winds made a conversion impossible, but Sligo now had a lead of 5 points over the home side, which didnâ€™t go down well with the opposition.
Sligo u-13s made it two league wins from two matches when they defeated a strong Ballina side at Strandhill on Sunday by 31-12. Sligo won the toss and elected to play against the strong wind in the first half. Ballina quickly turned this to their advantage and with 5 minutes gone on the clock some fine running by their backline saw them touch down under the posts for the opening score. A successful conversion put the score at 7-0 to the Mayo outfit. However Sligoâ€™s reply was swift. Some fine driving play from Evan McGrath put Sligo deep into the Ballina scoring zone. A series of lineouts ensued with the towering Edward Burke securing possession for his forwards to drive into the Ballina defence. The ball was transferred to Conan O Donnell who powered over for a well taken team score.
As you may or may not be aware a young Sligo Rugby Club player, our New Zealand outhalf Paddy Pearson was badly burned in an incident in Sligo just before Halloween. His heroic efforts saved his team-mate and tragically led to his own injury.
We are glad to report that Paddy is making progress in hospital in Galway where he is receiving ongoing medical attention. It looks like he will have to have a number of skin-graft operations for his injuries and this may well take him several years to recover from.
As a carpenter, the use of his hands is critical to Paddyâ€™s livelihood. This is something that is of ongoing concern to him and those close to him in securing an income for the future.
We (Sligo RFC) have put together a fundraising group consisting of Rodger Burrows, Cameron Giles, Aisling Burrows, Cliona Oâ€™Kelly, Marion Rolf and Rory Raftery. We have organised a Race Night in The Strand on Friday November 28th at 8:30pm. The first race is off at 9pm and we hope to have a rugby memorabilia auction on the night.
Table toppers Sligo face their toughest task so far on their undefeated odyssey of a season with a rescheduled away trip to Westport this Sunday, 23rd November. This was originally scheduled to be a rest week due to the Irelandâ€™s vital clash with Argentina on the Saturday, but at the request of Westport, Sligo generously agreed to rearrange the fixture. Westport boast a mixed record of 3 wins and 4 defeats from their 7 games so far, but the bare results are misleading as three of those defeats have been by only one score against the other 3 clubs in the top four of the table. In their last encounter Westport produced a tremendous team performance to shock OLBC by 18-3 in Galway, and will go into this game full of confidence. Discipline may be the key to Sligoâ€™s chances as Westport boast one of the best kickers in the Junior League in out-half Eddie Walsh, and his namesake Sligo coach Joe Walsh will have to ensure that his players do not afford this lethal place kicker any easy opportunities. Sligo recovered from their scare against Tuam to produce a clinical, forward-dominant performance against Corrib to win 17-0 and Sligoâ€™s pack will need to produce a repeat performance to deal with their tough Westport counterparts. Kick off is 2-30pm in Westport and all Sligo RFC members are urged to travel and get behind their team as they seek to remain unbeaten.
Two former Sligo youths stars and Grammar School pupils, brothers Simon and Paul Gillespie faced off this weekend as their respective universities UCD and Trinity met in the annual Colours Match under floodlights at Donnybrook on Friday night. Simonâ€™s UCD, who compete in Division One of the AIB League, were as usual the hot favourites and on paper would have been expected to win comfortably and follow up last yearâ€™s success. However their opponentâ€™s Trinity have been playing well in AIB League Division Two, and boasted a more experienced squad than last yearâ€™s encounter and had already been showing the benefits of their pre-season trip to the US on a training camp. It was this experience that older brother Paulâ€™s Trinity side put to great use to emerge victorious in a tense, entertaining clash by 20-18 and claim victory over their arch-rivals. Paul started for Trinity, and was joined by his brother, Simon, in the second half as he appeared as subsitute. One proud spectator was the boyâ€™s father, and prominent Sligo RFC â€œalickadooâ€? Peter, who was delighted to see both his sonâ€™s play, although he probably would have preferred to see the game end in a draw! All at Sligo RFC would like to wish Paul and Simon all the best in their respective campaigns for the rest of the season.
This weekend saw a number of Sligo youth sides in action at home and around the country. The U18s faced the much-vaunted Galway Corinithians side in Strandhill and after a tough, bruising encounter emerged victorious on a scoreline of 10-8. This was a superb result for a Sligo side that it is hoped will develop into serious contenders for silverware this season.
The U16s were also in action against Galway opposition, facing a talented Galwegians side in Strandhill. Again it was a tight, hard-fought encounter but two superb scores gave Sligo a 10-0 victory. The first was a pack effort finished by the excellent Gerard Keaney, while the second was a sublime individual effort from Sligoâ€™s electric centre Killian Cox. Galwegians were always competitive but a failure to take chances combined with a massive effort from the Sligo forwards ensured that Sligo emerged victorious. This is a very talented U16s side, and with a bit of luck they too will be fighting for honours at the business end of the season.
A clinical, gutsy display in difficult conditions saw Sligo overcome a strong Corrib challenge by 17-0 to make it seven from seven and cement their place at the top of the Connacht JL1 League in a wet, wind-swept Hamilton Park on Sunday. Last weekâ€™s dour struggle at home to Tuam had led some pundits to declare that this was the week when Sligoâ€™s luck would run out and their unbeaten run ended, but a heroic effort from Sligoâ€™s forwards ensured that it was to be victory number seven for the Yeatsmen. Sligo coach Joe Walsh reacted angrily to his sideâ€™s inept performance against Tuam with a number of changes. Upfront the consistent Cathal Culhane returned at flanker, with the athletic Kim Williams making his first start of the season. It was the backline where Walsh really wielded his axe with club stalwart Gavin Foley switching to out-half, joined by a new centre partnership of Andrew Feeney and the powerful Mataele Fifita, and a first team call-up for tricky winger Brian Hynes after his four-try salvo for the seconds last weekend. Corribâ€™s league position belies their performances this season so far as they have suffered a five point deduction for off the field offences, and the gritty Galwaymen were expected to pose a major question to a Sligo side that has been suggested to have ridden their luck on occasion this year.
Sligo U-13s kicked off their league campaign in style with a comprehensive defeat of a brave Westport outfit in Carrowholly last Saturday by 30-7.On a day when most games would have been cancelled due to monsoon like rain and gale force winds, Sligo made light of the atrocious weather conditions to rack up an impressive six tries on their way to victory.
Sligo set their stall out early with their well organised pick and drive game making inroads into the Westport defence. With 6 minutes gone on the clock Sligo were awarded a penalty 5 yards from the Westport line. Scrum half Ronan Redmond fed the strong running Edward Burke who was stopped inches short. The ball was quickly recycled and dynamic hooker Matthew Cosgrove crashed over for the games opening score. Sligo were now well into their stride and the opening score was soon followed by a typical barnstorming effort from the powerful Conan O Donnell following good work by the forwards particularly second row Sean Hurley and wing forward Aaron Cawley. Sligo continued to press home their superiority and outhalf Stephen Kearins and centre Mark Gerrity were both unfortunate not to be added to the score sheet. Sligo took a fifteen point lead into half time when they were awarded a scrum on the opposition 22. No 8 Eddie Burke picked from the base and burst through the home defence to touch down in the corner for the third try of the game.
Sligo U20s head to Limerick this Saturday, November 15th, to face a tough encounter against Old Crescent. All players are asked to attend and ensure that a strong side is fielded for what is sure to be a difficult fixture. The bus will leave the Garda barracks at 9.30am sharp.
Tickets are still available for club members for the eagerly awaited clash of Ireland and Argentina at Croke Park on Saturday, November 22nd. This game promises to be a close affair and is sure to present a major challenge to new Ireland coach Declan Kidney. Anyone who requires tickets is asked to contact Membership Secretary Rory Raftery on 087 2613011.
League leaders Sligo were given a major fright by a determined Tuam side in their Halloween weekend fixture as they struggled to an unconvincing 10-7 victory on Sunday last, November 2nd, in Hamilton Park. Fresh from their bye-week, Sligo were looking to make this their best start to a season in recent memory but were expecting a battle against a Tuam side that were looking to make in three wins in a row following impressive victories over Ballina and OLBC. Sligo were forced into a few changes from the side that defeated Castlebar in their last outing, not least the loss of their hugely influential out-half Paddy Pearson who is unfortunately out for the rest of the season. Pearson was replaced at ten by the returning Kakaber Machitidze, who was joined in the backline by the tricky David Gerrity, fully recovered from injury. Sligo also welcomed back star forward, James Wilson, whose lineout ability has been one of the key features of Sligoâ€™s unbeaten start to the season. Club stalwart Peter Mullan switched to number eight, with Joe Sweeney and Mataele Fifita making up a big-hitting back-row.
Cheered on by large home support, enjoying the benign weather conditions, Sligo looked to make a quick start, and had an early opportunity to take the lead when they were awarded a penalty 35m out. However Machitidze, looking to add to the 32 points he had already contributed this season, pulled his kick narrowly wide. Sligo continued to press and on ten minutes a great drive inside his own half by the industrious Jamie Bowes allowed Sligoâ€™s backs to move the ball wide where good hands from Gavin Foley and Joe Sweeney released the towering Tongan, Fifita, on the half way line. Storming down the left touchline, two huge hand-offs saw him smash his way through the hapless Tuam defence, all the way to the line for a wonderful individual try.
The Sligo RFC U15 side put the frighteners on their Corinthian counterparts in an away fixture that saw Sligo return home with a 24-7 victory this weekend.Â The fixture, which kicked off at 5pm on Saturday 1st November at Corinthians RFC was always going to be a tricky one for the Sligo boys, the Galway club has provedÂ to be a worthy opponent in the past, and this occasion was no different.
A much depleted Sligo squad, due to a combination of injuries and the mid-term break meant that Sligo came under serious pressure throughout the match, but particularly during the first half.Â An early try for Sligo by second row Ben Spellman put the side into the lead but Corinthians defended well and despite some text-book moves from Sligo, when the whistle blew for half time, Sligo remained ahead by five points to nil.