Sligo U 17 34 Ballinasloe U17 7
Sligos U17 side powered past the East Galway team and as a result have secured a place in the Connacht final against the winners of Galwegians and Westport. While the coaches will not look past the next game the real carrot of winning the Connacht title is a place in the All Ireland semi final.
On the evidence at Strandhill on Sunday this very accomplished side are well capable of going all the way and winning the Connacht league. This team have been together for a few years with a lot of success especially last season when they won the U16 and u 17 b titles.
They have a fine squad with quality right across the team and a very strong bench something that will be very important as they go forward to the bigger battles. They are capable of scoring through the backs or the forwards and in the key position of out half they have a fine player in the form of Enda Gavin. Any side that wants to progress at this level need a good set piece and this team have a solid scrum and an excellent lineout. In fact on the day they scored two trys straight from set moves off the lineout.
On Sunday they started with the aid of the wind and were very soon on the offensive and after some excellent back line play speedy winger Enda Roche touched down for the opening five pointer . Enda Gavin struck an excellent conversion from out wide to make it seven nil. The next score came again after sustained pressure and several phases . Sligo took the attack deep into enemy territory and a beautiful inside pass from Gavin sent Shane Boyle over for a 12 nil score. The next score was a classic front of the lineout move with James OHehir coming around to take and dive over. Next from a solid scrum man of the match Eddie Connell powered over from the base to leave the score 22—0 at half time.
In the second half Sligo had to play into the wind and thus had to work much harder to gain territory against a big Ballinasloe pack. Matters were not helped when they conceded an easy try to the opposition. From a scrum on the 22 the Ballinasloe number eight waltzed in near the posts for a try which was converted to leave the score 22—7. For the next fifteen minutes the Sligo lads had to withstand a lot of pressure to keep their line intact. During this period they conceded too many soft penaltys but to their credit they did not concede any more scores. As the game moved into the final ten minutes Sligo once more attained dominance and the pressure yielded two more trys from Eddie Connell and Shane Boyle with Enda Gavin converting won to leave a final score of 34—7.
This result at the playoff stages of the league was very comprehensive with 6 trys to 1 for the visitors. With the intereuption of Christmas and the weather the side is still a bit rusty but the potential was there for all to see.
Up front Sligo have some excellent ball winners in Shane Boyle and Niall ORourke. The back row of Diarmuid ODowd Hill, James Ohehir and the hugely athletic Eddie Connell are an excellent unit. The front row of Fabian Zwanda Matt Davey and Jamie McGovern are very solid in the tight and work hard in the loose.
The half backs of Ross Gordon and Enda Gavin are very sharp with Gavin showing some lovely touches with the ball in hand. The centres Mark Gerrity and Jason McGoldrick are strong in defense and attack. The back three have loads of pace with full back Sean Finnegan in particular catching the eye with good basics and a fine counter attacking game.
The next outing for this side will be a Connacht final and they will benefit from a good tough and competent display today. With a bit more work and more game time this particular group of players have the ability to bring some more silverware back to the North West
Sligo Team; Sean Finnegan Enda Roche Mark Gerrity Jason McGoldrick Darragh Burke Enda Gavin Ross Gordon Jamie McGovern Matt Davey Fabian Zwanda Shane Boyle Niall ORourke Diarmuid hill James OHehir Eddie Connell
Subs Aaron Donnellan(45 mins)Conor Kerins(50 mins) Calum McLoughlin (52mins) Karol Devaney Eoin Kilroy Talbot Gabriel Knect James McGwinne Patrick McGloin