AIL 2B: Sligo fall short in Barnhall

MU Barnhall RFC 25 – Sligo RFC 17

Sligo travelled to Kildare last Saturday for their third All Ireland League match of the season to take on table toppers MU Barnhall. The home outfit were sitting pretty on top of the Division 2B table with maximum points from the first two rounds, but Sligo had shown their mettle with a bonus point win over a fancied Dungannon outfit the previous week and were well up for the task of challenging the league leaders.

Storm Callum may have abated but the match day conditions proved tricky with a heavy drizzle making handling difficult for both sides despite an excellent track underfoot. Sligo opened well and dominated the early exchanges. The first opportunity for points came with a penalty award in front of the Barnhall posts but Sligo turned down the kick and opted for the scrum. The locals dug in and forced the penalty and the chance to open the scoring was lost.

The home team made the most of the reprieve and worked their way up the park and with virtually their first foray into Sligo territory, a sustained period of pick and drives resulted in Barnhall’s opening try.

Sligo responded and worked their way back into the game. The Sligo lineout was functioning well with Shane O’Hehir working well with jumpers Shane Boyle and Rob Holian to provide scrum half Brendan Cunningham a platform to move the ball quickly to midfield, where Kuba Wojtkowicz, Jason Havea and Mata Fifita we’re bringing the physical battle to their hosts.

Full back Niall Gray opened Sligo’s account with an excellently struck penalty on the half hour before Barnhall struck again with a second try just before the interval to move the score to 12-3 at the break.

Sligo resumed with a steely resolve after the break and were rewarded with their first try of the day. Holian latched onto a loose ball on the Barnhall 10 metre line and a barnstorming run saw the second row make his way to within five metres of the line. Sligo recycled quickly and the excellent Ross Hickey drove over on the left to the delight of the large travelling support. Grays conversion move Sligo to within two.

Sligo continued to press and moved ahead fifteen minutes into the half. A well judged Mark Butler cross kick was collected by speedster wing Calum Goddard who raced into the Barnhall 22 before being held up by the last line of defence. The Sligo support lines were good and Ryan Feehily collected and raced to the corner for Sligo’s second of the day. Gray kicked an excellent conversion to push Sligo into a five point lead. 12-17.

Unfortunately for the visitors that proved to be Sligo’s last score of the day and Barnhall wrestled back the lead with try’s on the sixtieth and seventieth minutes. The final nail in the Sligo coffin came with a Barnhall penalty with two minutes remaining which moved Sligo out of losing bonus point range and despite an excellent Havea break bringing play right to the Barnhall line at the death,the referee awarded a penalty to the locals and the chance was lost.

Sligo now take a week off from AIL action before resuming action with a home game against Wanderers FC on October 27th . The match kicks off at 2.30 at Hamilton Park.

Sligo Niall Gray, Calum Goddard, Ryan Feehily, Mata Fifita, Jack Keegan, Mark Butler, Brendan Cunningham, Kuba Wojtkowicz, Shane O’Hehir, Tom Gormely, Rob Holian, Jason Havea, Shane Boyle, Matthew Davey, Ross Hickey. Reps: Ross O’Boyle, Craig Adams, Ciaran Cassidy, Matthew Cosgrove, Enda Gavin.

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