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Sligo Take Spoils in Northwest Derby

Sligo RFC 19

Ballina RFC 17

The the age old rivalry between Sligo and Ballina resumed last Saturday with a keenly contested meeting at Hamilton park. Both sides came to the Connacht Senior League encounter, unbeaten in their respective first and second round matches, meaning the victorious side would top the league standings after round 3. 

With Hamilton Park in impeccable condition, Sligo kicked off playing towards the airport end. The early exchanges were typical of derby fare, physical battles all over the park with both teams looking to gain the upper hand. 

The first scoring opportunity fell to the visitors with a penalty on the Sligo 10 meter line but Daragh Whytes failed to convert the chance. 

Minutes later It was Sligo’s turn to try to open their account with a penalty from just inside the Ballina Half but Euan Browns effort  drifted wide. 

Sligo continued to press and succeeded in breaching the line with 12 minutes on the clock. Matthew Earley linked with Rob Holian at a 5 meter lineout. Ross Hickey, Pedro Bengalo ,James O’Hehir all tested the defence with carries before scrum half  Brendan Cunningham fed Stefano Giantorno who finished in the right corner. Euan Brown added the extras with an excellent conversion kick.

The visitors responded, using their physical backline to drive into the heart of the Sligo defence. Sligo looked to have repelled the onslaught but the referee deemed that the defensive effort was illegal and Sligo lost the influential Earley to the sin bin. The Sligo cause was further hampered two minutes later when Brown joined Earley in the ‘bin’ when the outhalf was adjudged to have intentionally knocked on the ball. 

Despite valiant efforts to hold the line, Ballina eventually made the most of the two man advantage and strong running centre Calum Quinn touched down for the visitors. Whyte converted and the sides were level. 

Ballina increased their lead just before the interval when number 8 Daniel Molloy profited from loose Sligo defending at a ruck on the 22 and raced in to touch down in the corner. Whytes conversion effort drifted wide. 

Following the resumption , Sligo upped the tempo and looked to impose their game on the visitors. The Sligo lineout was functioning well with Matthew O’Hara supporting the influential Holian. The back row of Sean Wynne, Daire Byrne and Hickey were containing the physical Ballina unit. Centres Enda Gavin and Jack Keegan were dealing with the midfield threat. 

Sligo’s control paid off and penalties from Brown in the 50th and 60th minutes moved Sligo into a 4 point lead before Quinn went over for his second try with 15 minutes remaining. With the score at 16-17 in favour of the visitors the day was set up for a grandstand finish. 

Sligo again rallied and earned a penalty on the 10 meter line with 5 minutes on the clock. The kick fell short but the Sligo pressure eventually forced another penalty and Brown knocked the last kick of the game over the bar to seal the victory to the joy of the home support.

Sligo now take a break from league action until September 18th when the travel to Galway to face Corinthians in the final round of league action. A win in Galway would secure the league title for the Yeats county men. 

Sligo: Guilherme Coghetto, Phillip Carter, Jack Keegan, Enda Gavin, Stefano Giantorno, Euan Brown, Brendan Cunningham, Matthew Earley, James O’Hehir, Pedro Bengalo, Rob Holian , Matthew O’Hara, Daire Byrne, Sean Wynne, Ross Hickey. 

Reps: Tadgh Power, Craig Trimble, Michael Broaders, Jacob Fleming, Stuart O’Brien

Sligo Continue To Impress

Galwegians RFC 10
Sligo RFC 42

Sligo’s impressive return to action continued with a well constructed 6 try to 2 victory over a powerful Galwegians outfit at Crowley Park on Saturday. The bonus point win put Sligo in pole position in the Connacht league table, equal on league points with Ballina RFC but with a superior points difference.Sligo won the toss and elected to play towards the road end into the fresh breeze for the first half. The hosts kicked deep and tried to dominate the early exchanges with some powerful tackling and equally powerful carries. The first chance to open the scoring came to the hosts with a penalty attempt from the 10 metre line but Adam Cunningham’s effort drifted wide. ‘Wegians continued to press and with 10 minutes played a gap in the Sligo defence was exploited by Cunningham who stepped inside the cover at the half way line and raced to the line for the opening score. The conversion attempt drifted across the face of the posts.Wegians continued to press and a Mark Earle break look set to yield further reward but the Sligo defence, with James O’Hehir and Sean Wynne tackling with ferocious intensity, held firm and Enda Gavin secured a turnover to relieve the pressure.Sligo regathered their composure and seeked to impose their own game on their hosts, moving the ball to the edge where the pace and footwork of Philip Carter and Stefano Giantorno was troubling the blue defence. Sligo continued to grow and with twenty minutes gone the account was opened with a well struck penalty from Euan Brown who repeated the dose on 35 minutes to edge Sligo into the lead by the narrowest of margins going into the interval.It’s often said that the third quarter or ‘Championship Quarter’ is where many games are won or lost and that was certainly the case in Crowley Park. Following the resumption Sligo raised the intensity level and wrestled control of proceedings with a three try blitz before the clock had reach 60 minutes.Jack Keegan positioned Sligo in the ‘Wegians 22 with an excellent kick taking full advantage of the new 50:22 law which ensured that Sligo were awarded the resulting lineout. Hooker Matthew Earley threw to Rob Holian and Sligo trundled forward. Wegians illegally halted the charge and Sligo opted to go to the corner. Earley again combined with Holian and this time when the drive was halted scrum half Brendan Cunningham moved it to the backs. Three recycles later the defence was breached and Giantorno was over wide on the left. Sligo smelled blood and ruthlessly went for the jugular. Holian collected the restart and raced infield through the first line of defence before linking with Gavin who superbly kept the move alive. Keegan and Wynne combined before O’Hehir popped up to round off a breath-taking score. Keegan added the extras and Sligo were heading out of sight.Try number three arrived on the hour. Giantorno collected a ‘Wegians defensive clearance on the half way line and immediately linked up infield with full back Guilherme Coghetto. Coghetto fed Carter, who stepped two defenders before returning the pass to the looping fullback. The overlap was created and the ball was given to Brown who timed his pass to release Gavin to dive in at the corner and move the Sligo total to 23, an 18 point advantage. In full flow, a rampant Sligo were now on top in all phases. Pedro Bengalo and Eddie Coyle had the edge at the scrum and Tadgh Power added his physicality and experience when called to the fray. The ball from touch was rock solid with Matthew O’Hara seamlessly stepping in to marshal the lineout after replacing the excellent Holian. Craig Trimble was putting in his customary physical shift and Michael McMorrow continued the fight when he was introduced. Ross Hickey was leading his back row with intent. Luke Hogge replaced Carter and showed his pace and power when the play came to his wing.With 10 minutes remaining Sligo struck again. Cunningham darted through a gap at the base of a ruck on the 10 meter line before linking with Giantorno who showed a clean pair of heels and raced to the line for the bonus point try.Wegians picked up a consolation score when Daragh Kennedy made the most of a slip in the Sligo defence but Sligo immediately negated any thoughts of a comeback when Wynne intercepted a Wegians offload on the halfway and set up the ruck. Cunningham fed brown on a close in line and the outhalf raced to within 5 yards before linking with Coghetto to finish. Brown added the extra.Stephen Doyle made his first team debut replacing the hard working O’Hehir and Sligo pushed on. A clearance kick was collected on half way by Hogge who immediately looked to counter. The outside backs combined to bring play back into the 22. McMorrow made a strong carry from the resulting ruck and the ball was shifted left to Coghetto who made no mistake in finishing the last score. Next week Sligo take a break from league action before resuming the age old rivalry with neighbours Ballina in a top of the table clash. The match kicks off at 2.30 on September 4th at Hamilton Park Strandhill.Sligo: Guilherme Coghetto, Stefano Giantorno, Jack Keegan, Enda Gavin, Phillip Carter, Euan Brown, Brendan Cunningham (Capt), Eddie Coyle, Matthew Earley, Pedro Bengalo, Craig Trimble, James O’Hehir, Sean Wynne, Ross Hickey. Reps: Tadgh Power, Michael McMorrow, Matthew O’Hara, Luke Hogge, Stephen Doyle.

Rugby returns to Hamilton park

Jack Keegan dives over the try line

Sligo RFC 43 
Buccaneers RFC 10

Senior, competitive, rugby for Sligo RFC resumed for the first time since since October 2020 with the visit of Buccaneers RFC to Hamilton Park for the first round of the 2021/22 Connacht Senior League. 

With such a long layoff and many changes in personnel, the Sligo faithful were unsure of what to expect but the home team dispelled any notion of ‘ring-rust’ with an all action display, running in 6 trys for a well deserved bonus point victory.
With the pitch in immaculate condition and a slight drizzle of rain, Sligo received the kick off playing towards the airport end. 
As expected, the visitors brought a physical challenge and tested the Sligo defence in the opening exchanges but the home defence stood strong with James O’Hehir and Sean Wynne making telling tackles early on. 
The early ‘Buccs’ pressure yielded a three pointer from Michael Hanley and Sligo immediately looked to respond. An excellent Phillip Carter break, down the left touchline,  almost resulted in the opening score for Sligo but the support runner was forced into touch. 
Minutes later Sligo manufactured another chance through a superbly crafted driving maul which pushed the visitors from their 22 to close to the line, however, the referee decided that an obstruction had occurred and Buccs were allowed to clear. 
Sligo continued to press and were finally rewarded with the opening try.
Rob Holian claimed an off the top lineout on the Buccs 22. Scrum Half Brendan Cunningham immediately fed Euan Brown before Enda Gavin crashed up the middle. A quick recycle saw the play switched back from left to right and Guillerme Coghetto and Stefano Giantorno both made telling contributions before hooker Matthew Early crashed over in the corner. 
Browns conversion attempt drifted across the face of the posts.
Sligo were up and running and hungry for scores. Ross Hickey quickly picked from a scrum on the left hand side and fed Cunningham. The ball was moved quickly in field for Gavin to release Jack Keegan. Keegans excellent line split the defence and the centre burst into the 22 before linking with Coghetto.  Carter joined having made his way over from the far wing and forced his way over in the corner. 
Brown struck a sweet conversion to put Sligo into a 12-3 lead at the interval.

Euan Brown congratulates try-scorer Guiherme Coghetto

Following the resumption Sligo continued to pressurise the visitors. Pedro Bengalo and Eddie Coyle had the edge at scrum time and Craig Trimble was making his power felt in the physical exchanges. The Sligo backline were attacking with intent with the pace of the back three troubling the visiting defence. 
Brown increased Sligo’s lead with a penalty from in front of the posts with 55 minutes on the clock before Keegan added Sligo’s third try with an excellent run from the 10 metre line after collecting a clever chip through from Brown. The outhalf added the extras with another well struck conversion.
Buccs responded immediately when a moment of complacency in the Sligo backline was sized on and replacement centre Liam Doyle touched down on the left of the posts. Hanley converted to put the score to 22-10
The bonus point score was secured with 15 minutes remaining. A Brown kick pass was collected by Carter who linked up with Gavin. Gavin fed Coghetto who was hauled down 5 metres from the line. Trimble drove forward from the quick recycle and Early popped up on the blindside to dot down for his second of the day. Brown again added the extras.
Sligo were now in full flow and added try number 5 on 70 minutes. A planned backline move unlocked the defence and Brown raced into the 22 before releasing Coghetto to pick up his first score of the day. Brown again added the extras.
Coghetto repeated the dose right at the death with another well taken score having again linked well with Carter and Brown popped over the last kick to cap a fine days work. 

Guiherme Coghetto dives over the line to score Sligo’s fifth try

Coaches Josh Reeves and Simon Galvan will be happy with the application shown by the squad, the substitutes Matthew O’Hara, Daire Byrne,Tadgh Power, Jake Sexton and Stuart O’Brien slotted seamlessly into the fold with Byrne in particular catching the eye with some powerful carries and trademark tackles.
Next for Sligo is a trip to Galway to face Galwegians. The match kicks off at 2.30 next Saturday (21st) at 2.30 pm
Sligo Matthew O’Hara, Stefano Giantorno, Jack Keegan, Enda Gavin, Phillip Carter, Euan Brown, Brendan Cunningham (Capt), Eddie Coyle, Matthew Earley, Pedro Bengalo, Craig Trimble, Rob Holian, James O’Hehir, Sean Wynne, Ross Hickey. Reps 
Tadgh Power, Daire Byrne, Matthew O’Hara, Jake Sexton, Stuart O’Brien.

Club sponsor George Mullan, from SIS Pitches, with Club President Niall Gray

Three from Three For Sligo

Co-captain Diarmuid O’Dowd-Hill leads from the front and goes over for the first of Sligo’s five tries.

Ballina RFC 14
Sligo RFC    36

Sligo made it three from three with an emphatic win over Ballina in round three of the Energia AIL Connnacht Conference at Heffernan Park in Ballina on Saturday. 
Sligo put their hosts to the sword and ran in five trys, to two from the home side, earning the all important bonus point and cementing their position at the top of the conference.
With good underfoot conditions and the breeze favouring the hosts, Sligo kicked off playing away from the clubhouse end. 
The early possession belonged to the locals but Sligo defended patiently. Eventually the error was forced and Sligo were awarded a scrum on the right of the 22. 

Kuba Wojtkowicz shows his speed

A strong effort from Sligo’s front row of Kuba Wojtkowicz, Matthew Earley and Pedro Bengalo allowed number 8 Diarmuid O’Dowd Hill release Hubert Gilvary at the base. Gilvary burst away and made his way to the Ballina 22 before linking with right winger Calum Goddard.
Goddard was hauled down 10 metres out but supporting flanker Brian West brilliantly recovered the loose ball. Sligo quickly moved the ball wide to the left and the final pass from full back Guilherme Coghetto saw O’Dowd Hill touch down wide on the left. 
Ballina responded and a Bradley Nealon break gave the home side a foothold in Sligo territory before Luke Sweeney drove over under the posts. Craig McCormick added the extras to put Ballina 2 points ahead.
Sligo regained the lead on the half hour, with a Euan Brown penalty,  before striking again. O’Dowd Hill stole a Ballina throw on the 10 metre line and the ball was moved quickly right to left. Play moved into the Ballina 22 with David Heath, Craig Trimble and Adrian Cummins all carrying powerfully before the ball was moved back to the right through Jack Keegan and Enda Gavin. Ace finisher Calum Goddard collected and crashed over in the right corner. Brown converted to give the visitors an 8 point half time lead. 
Following the interval Sligo upped the tempo and killed off the local challenge with a 14 points blitz in 3 minutes.

Sligo’s Brian West supported by David Heath

Gilvary broke down the blindside from a scrum 10 metres out before linking up with Goddard who finished in the corner for his second of the day. Browns touchline conversion moved Sligo to 22. 
The follow up was ruthless. Ross Hickey, making a welcome return after a long term shoulder injury, claimed the restart and drove into the Ballina chasers. The ball was quickly recycled and Brown received. An outrageous dummy opened up the defence and the Sligo outhalf made his way into the Ballina half before linking up with Gilvary. The scrum half timed his pass to put Goddard away for his hat trick and Sligo’s bonus point. 
A rampant Sligo were now in full control. James O’Hehir found O’Dowd Hill at the lineout and the ball was moved off the top and quickly right to left. Goddard came in from the blindside and injected pace and Coghetto handled before Phillip Carter squeezed in at the left corner. Brown again converted from the touchline with another excellent strike.
The home side earned a consolation score through replacement scrum half Niall Keane but the day and the bragging rights belong to Sligo.
With a seven point lead at the top of the conference, Coaches Paddy Pearson and Jason East will be satisfied with the first block of games as the team moves into a two week break. 
Sligo’s next fixture is a Halloween home encounter against Galway Corinthians. The match kicks off at 2.30 at Hamilton Park on Oct 31st.
Sligo: Guilherme Coghetto, Calum Goddard, Jack Keegan (Co-Capt), Enda Gavin, Phillip Carter, Euan Brown, Hubert Gilvary, Kuba Wojtkowicz, Matthew Earley, Pedro Bengalo, Adrian Cummins, Craig Trimble, David Heath, Brian West,    Diarmuid O’Dowd Hill (Co-Capt). Reps James O’Hehir, Ross O’Boyle, Michael McMorrow, Ross Hickey, Brendan Cunningham.

Two from Two for Sligo

Mata Fifita powers through the Galwegians’ defence

Sligo RFC 25 Galwegians RFC 15

Sligo made it two for two with a three trys to two win over Galway rivals Galwegians RFC in round 2 of the Energia AIL Connnacht Conference 1 at Strandhill on Saturday. 
Sligo’s powerful forward display combined with searing backline pace proved too much for their visitors to handle in a well-contested encounter.

With Hamilton Park in superb condition, due to trojan work from grounds chairman Brian Roche, Sligo took the field playing towards the airport end and against the slight breeze. 

Euan Brown kicked off for Sligo, but it was the visitors who kept possession in the opening stages, bringing their strong runners Kieran Downey and Mark Earle into play at every opportunity.

Sligo weathered the early storm and worked their way into the game. A sweeping right to left move saw an excellent Jack Keegan line carve open up the visiting defence but the final pass failed to finish the move and Sligo had to wait for the opening score.

Pressure on the ‘Wegians lineout, with Diarmuid O’Dowd-Hill to the fore, forced an error and resulted in a Sligo scrum 15 metres out. Sligo’s front row of Kuba Wojtkowicz, Matthew Earley and Pedro Bengalo took control. The Sligo scrum marched to the line and three penalties and three scrums later O’Dowd-Hill touched down at the base for Sligo’s opening score.  Brown converted and Sligo were up and running. 

Sligo’s Pedro Bengalo puts in a big hit, watched by Sligo’s Hubert Gilvarry

Sligo continued to press and great work from Adrian Cummins brought Sligo back into visitors territory. A penalty was earned and Browns kick moved Sligo’s score to 10.

Sligo moved further ahead after 14 minutes. An excellent chip from scrum half Brendan Cunningham pinned ‘Wegians into the airport corner. The Sligo pack were in full flow and took full advantage by earning a penalty try from a series of attacking scrums to put 17 between the teams.

Wegians responded immediately and hit back with an well worked score in the left corner from lively scrum half Rory Gaffney before narrowing the gap to 9 with a long range Earle penalty. 
Sligo again responded, with Brian West and Enda Gavin leading the defensive line, and a second successful Brown penalty, from the 10 metre line, put the half time score at 20 points to 8.

Following the resumption both teams looked to gain dominance. Sligo were on top in the scrums and the lineout was solid but too many times the final pass went astray and promising moves failed to yield a reward. 

With 60 minutes on the clock, Sligo clicked into gear and produced a move worthy of winning any match. Sligo were awarded a scrum 10 metres from their own line. The ball was moved left to right where full back Guilherme Coghetto injected pace before exchanging passes with winger Calum Goddard. Coghetto continued the move before linking up with Hubert Gilvary who raced to the corner for a breathtaking score.

Hubert Gilvarry scored Sligo’s 3rd try of the day

Galwegians again hit back with a score under the posts from Mikey O’Donnell following a sustained period of pressure in the Sligo 22. Earle converted.

Sligo hunted for the bonus point 4th try but were unable to to add to their tally and come the final whistle had to be content with 4 league points. 

Next Saturday Sligo travel west to lock horns with Ballina RFC. Matches between the two clubs are always well contested and with former Sligo player Gavin Foley coaching the backline of the Mayo outfit there will be plenty of interest in the outcome. The match kicks off at 2.30 at Hefernan Park. 

Sligo: Guilherme Coghetto, Calum Goddard, Jack Keegan, Enda Gavin, Hubert Gilvary, Euan Brown, Brendan Cunningham, Kuba Wojtkowicz, Matthew Earley, Pedro Bengalo, Craig Trimble, Adrian Cummins, Mata Fifita, Brian West, Diarmuid O’Dowd Hill. Reps: James O’Hehir, Ross O’Boyle, David Heath, Daire Byrne, Philip Carter.

No Joy in Galway

Corinthians RFC 24 Sligo RFC 8

Round 14 of Energia All Ireland division 2B action saw Sligo travel to Galway to take on Corinthians following the postponement of the fixture due to storm Jorge last weekend. 
Corinthians fielded a formidable squad, boasting 9 players with Connacht Eagles experience while Sligo were strengthed with the return of Mata Fifita in his first game since picking an arm injury in the first half of the season.

 The locals won the toss and elected to play against the stiff breeze in the first half. Sligo started brightly and used the conditions well to keep the Galway men pinned in their own 22 for the open 15 minutes. 

Sligo’s endeavour was rewarded when Philip Carter squeezed in the left corner to open the scoring following a well worked right to left move.

 Sligo continued to pressure their hosts with Shane Boyle, Tom Gormely and Kuba Wojtkowicz all making inroads with some fine carrying and Stephen Kerins and Ryan Feehily proving a handful. Sligo’s effort was rewarded midway through the half with a Euan Brown penalty but with conditions rapidly deteriorating rather the visitors let a number of chances slip and failed to significantly add to their tally. 

A lapse in Sligo’s discipline just before half time gave Corinthians a rare attackIng opportunity and centre Cathal Evans took full advantage by chipping the defence, collecting and dotting down under the crossbar. Conor Dean converted to leave Sligo holding the narrowest of leads at the interval. 

Sligo turned to face the wind and rain in the second half and held possession to work their way into the scoring zone. Unfortunately, a wayward kick turned over possession and the chance was lost.Corinthians made the most of the let off, used the wind to boot the ball downfield and with a massive shift in momentum scored their second try of the day. 

Sligo continued to battle but couldn’t regain the upper hand and a Dean penalty and a third Corinthians try at the death meant the Yeats men had to leave empty handed. 
With 34 points and 4 games remaining Sligo are still in contention for a play off spot and will be looking to get back on track when they travel to Dungannon next Saturday. The match kicks off at 2.30 at Stevenson Park.

Sligo : Enda Gavin, Calum Goddard, Mark Butler, Ryan Feehily, Philip Carter, Euan Brown, Stephen Kerins, Mark Keegan, Matthew Earley, Tom Gormely, Diarmuid O’Dowd Hill, Shane Boyle, Mata Fifita, Kuba Wojtkowicz, Donnacha Byrne. Reps : James O’Hehir, Jason East, Brian West, Matt Davey, Daire Byrne

The West’s Awake

Sligo RFC 27 Greystones RFC 3

For the second week in a row Sligo locked horns with illustrious Leinster opponents and for the second week in a row Sligo claimed the spoils. 

Round 13 of Energia All Ireland League Division 2B action saw Sligo host Greystones RFC in an intense encounter at Strandhill on Saturday.

 Having despatched title contenders Blackrock In their own backyard last Weekend, Sligo picked up where they left off and repeated the dose with an emphatic victory over the Wicklow outfit. 

Despite the incessant midweek rain , Hamilton Park was a credit to the excellent work of grounds chairman Brian Roche and the teams took to the pitch with good underfoot conditions. 

The visitors won the toss and elected to play with the stiff breeze towards the Knocknarea end and used the conditions to pin Sligo into their own 22 for the opening exchanges. 

Possession was a valuable commodity, and the visitors owned the ball for the first quarter, testing the Sligo defence at every opportunity. Sligo were not to be broken however and huge defensive tackles from Diarmuid O’ Dowd Hill, Brian West and Ciaran Cassidy repelled the attack and Greystones were limited to a 3 points with a penalty on the half hour. 

Having weathered the early Greystones onslaught Sligo finally got their hands on the ball and efficiently worked their way into the Greystones half. Kuba Wojtkowicz and Tom Gormley started to carry with intent and the endeavour was rewarded with a penalty which Euan Brown excellently converted to put the sides level at the interval.

Following the resumption Sligo immediately struck a major blow. Brown collected a ‘stones clearance on the Sligo 10 metre line and immediately looked to counter. The outhalf stepped two defenders and made his way into the visitors half before linking with his support and the ball made its way to flying winger Calum Goddard. Goddard raced into the 22 and supporting hooker Shane O’Hehir collected and raced in to dot down to the right off the posts. Brown slotted the conversion.

With Sligo ahead, as if on cue the weather bared it’s teeth. The wind rose and a shower of hail swept across the pitch making life horrendous for both teams. One loyal Sligo supporter was heard to describe the scenario as ‘Artic conditions of Atlantic proportions’ but Sligo stood strong and continued to dominate their visitors in all facets. 

Brown increased the lead with another well struck penalty kick to give Sligo a cushion and keep momentum for the local effort.

Mark Keegan was a powerhouse in the front row as the Sligo scrum took over. Enda Gavin tackled himself to a standstill before being replaced by the equally effective Daire Byrne. On a day not designed for wingers, Phillip Carter produced one of his best displays in a Sligo shirt creating havoc in the visitors defence with many carries.

The hail shower abated but Sligo continued to dominate. Stephen Kerins was producing another masterclass from scrum half, directing operations with military like precision ably supported by Mark Butler who demonstrated his tactical nous with some fine positional kicking.

 Jason East and his pack earned a scrum penalty for Sligo 10 minutes into the second half which Brown converted into another three points before Sligo struck the killer blow.  

A Greystones move on the halfway line was snuffed out by the vigilant Sligo defence with notable work from Matt Davey. The ball came loose and the excellent Ryan Feehily was first to react, fly-kicking into the visitors 22. The chase ensued, and Feehily won the race to tap the ball closer to the ‘stones line.  Byrne secured the ball at the ruck and Shane Boyle drove over the line, Brown converted and Sligo were ahead by 20 to 3.

With 5 minutes to go a rampant Sligo were rewarded with a third try. A sweeping left to right move involving a fine carry from Matt Earley, Goddard collected on the edge to  force his way over in the corner. Brown again converted with the kick of the day and moments later the ref gave the three blasts signaling the end of the game.

Sligo now move to 34 league points, just 1 point from the playoff position and with current form will be confident to be in in the mix for the promotion playoffs come the seasons end. 

Next up is a trip to Galway to face Corinthians, with Sligo having defeated the Galway men in the Connacht Senior Cup Final and only one AIL point between the sides a massive match up is expected. The game kicks off at 2.30 in Cloonacauneen next Saturday. 

Sligo Ryan Feehily, Calum Goddard, Mark Butler, Enda Gavin, Philip Carter, Euan Brown, Stephen Kerins, Mark Keegan, Shane O’Hehir, Tom Gormely, Ciaran Cassidy, Shane Boyle, Diarmuid O’Dowd Hill, Kuba Wojtkowicz, Jason East. Reps Matthew Earley, Brian West, Daire Byrne, Matt Davey, Sean Wynne.

Sligo Sink The ‘ Rock

Blackrock RFC 5

Sligo RFC 10

In the twelfth round of Energia All Ireland league Div 2B matches Sligo were given the task of travelling to the capital to lock horns with Blackrock College in a repeat of last years division 2B promotion playoff. Blackrock took the spoils with a late score that day and repeated the dose with a last gasp victory over Sligo in Strandhill in November. Sligo were determined to turn the tables and stood up and bested their much vaunted Dublin rivals with display of courage, skill and a tremendous amount of heart.

With storm Dennis baring its teeth, it was batten down the hatches time as the teams took to the field. The home team won the toss and elected to play against the buffeting gales so Sligo knew a good start was vital. The visitors immediately turned up the pressure and an early quick lineout move between Shane O’Hehir and Jason East allowed Sligo to maul their way to within inches of the home line. Sligo continued to batter the line but unfortunately a handling error at a crucial moment allowed ‘Rock to clear their lines.

The half began to take a pattern with Sligo pinning their hosts into their own 22 but the scorekeeper remained untroubled as the Sligo pressure failed to yield points. Despite the lack of scores Sligo continued to battle with the outstanding Stephen Kerins marshalling everything from behind the pack and Ciaran Cassidy and Tom Gormely carrying like dump trucks to create havoc in the Blackrock defence.

The heavens opened with rainfall of biblical proportions on the half hour. The floodlights came on but it was Sligo that shone brightest when fine work from Shane Boyle and Brian West earned a penalty in front of the posts which Euan Brown despatched to give Sligo the lead.

With conditions becoming more difficult by the minute Sligo continued to pressure the ‘Rock attack and the excellent defence was rewarded when the error was forced, Kerins collected and sprinted in from the 10 metre line. Brown converted and Sligo were 10 nil leaders at the interval.

Following the break Sligo resumed knowing they had to play against the wind, rain and everything that Blackrock was going to throw at them. Like a lighthouse in a storm Sligo stood fast and repelled every salvo the visitors fired at them. Heroes is a word often bandied about but its no exaggeration to say the every Sligo player earned hero status in a horrendously difficult half of rugby.

At scrum time Mark Keegan, O’Hehir ,Gormely and Matthew Earley dominated a hefty ‘Rock front row earning a couple of vital penalties to relieve the besieged Sligo line. Boyle and Cassidy ably supported by the powerful Craig Trimble fought for every inch of precious ground while backrows Brian West , East , Matt Davey, Kuba Wojtkowicz and the returning Sean Wynne were a pack of jackals at every breakdown.   

Kerins directed the game from start to finish but his half back partner Brown played a huge part in managing such a difficult encounter.  Sligo’s midfield was a wall that was never going to be breached with Enda Gavin, Mark Butler and Daire Byrne knocking down every attack that came their way. On a day the likes of which back three players dread, Philip Carter, Calum Goddard and Ryan Feehily kept the backfield intact while posing a threat every time they got the ball in hand.

Blackrock finally picked up a score in the corner with 10 minutes remaining and threw the proverbial kitchen sink at Sligo in search of a second try but Sligo were not to be beaten and come the final whistle the yeats country men were celebrating.

Next for Sligo is a home encounter against Greystones RFC. The match kicks off at Strandhill at 2.30 next Saturday.

Sligo: Ryan Feehily, Calum Goddard, Mark Butler, Enda Gavin, Philip Carter, Euan Brown, Stephen Kerins, Tom Gormely, Shane O’Hehir, Mark Keegan, Shane Boyle, Ciaran Cassidy, Brain West, Kuba Wojtkowicz, Jason East. Reps: Matthew Earley, Matthew Davey, Craig Trimble, Daire Byrne, Sean Wynne.

AIL2B:Last Kick Heartbreak for Sligo

Sligo RFC 15

Malahide RFC 16

The final kick of a highly intensive encounter resulted in heartbreak for Sligo as Malahide snatched the victory by the smallest margin in the round 11 AIL 2B encounter played at Strandhill on Saturday.

Having led the match going into injury time, Sligo conceded an unfortunate penalty on the left hand side outside of the 22, and Malahide outhalf Shane O’Brien held his nerve to seal the victory for the visitors.

With Sligo playing towards the airport end for the first half, the visitors kicked off. Shane Boyle collected and Sligo immediately looked to test the Malahide defence. 

Sligo’s early intent reaped a reward with an excellently struck Euan Brown penalty to open the scoring with 4 minutes on the clock.

Sligo continued to press and looked to keep the visitors pinned back in their own half but a breakaway by Irish Sevens international Mick Mc Grath resulted in a try for the visitors and a two point advantage. 

Sligo put the setback behind them and again set up camp in Malahide territory but against the run of play,  a fortuitous turnover resulted in a length of field play which, despite an excellent Phillip Carter cover tackle, resulted in a second try for the visitors.

Sligo again responded. Tom Gormley,  Kuba Wojtkowicz and Ciaran Cassidy were punching holes and Shane O’Hehir was proving a handful with some excellent carries. 

The Sligo pressure finally told when Malahide pulled down a Sligo scrum marching towards the try line and the referee awarded a penalty try which levelled the score.

Sligo were in full flow and were taking control in most areas. The back row of Diarmuid O’Dowd-Hill, Matt Davey and Jason East we’re working well to subdue the Malahide loose forwards and centres Mark Butler and Daire Byrne were on top in attack and defence. Ryan Feehily, as always, was a handful from the base and Calum Goddard was a threat whenever the ball came to the right wing. Enda Gavin was rock solid at full back.

Just before the interval Sligo struck again. A pinpoint cross kick from Brown was collected by Carter on the left, just inside his own half, and the winger outpaced the cover to touch down in the corner and give Sligo the half time lead 15-10.

Following the resumption, the match continued with the same intensity with both sides throwing the proverbial kitchen sink at each other. Sligo introduced Brian West, Matthew Earley and James O’Hehir to the play and all made telling contributions but despite some excellent attacking play the try lines were not to be breached again. 

Malahide closed the gap to two with a penalty from the 10 metre line with five minutes remaining before Sligo hearts were broken with the final act of an excellent encounter. 

Sligo now sit in sixth position in AIL division 2B, but with a run of form are well capable of reaching the play off positions with seven matches remaining. 

The AIL now takes a two week break due to the six nations, before Sligo travel to the capital to lock horns with Blackrock RFC. 

Ironically,  In a similar scenario, Blackrock snatched victory with a last gasp penalty when visiting Sligo in November. So Sligo won’t need any motivation to redress the balance with a win in Dublin.

Sligo. Enda Gavin, Calum Goddard, Mark Butler, Daire Byrne, Philip Carter, Euan Brown, Ryan Feehily, Tom Gormely, Shane O’Hehir, Kuba Wojtkowicz, Ciaran Cassidy, Shane Boyle, Matt Davey, Diarmuid O’Dowd Hill, Jason East. Reps: Matthew Earley, James O’Hehir, Brian West, Niall Gray, Brendan Cunningham.

AIL: Kings of the North West

Ballina RFC 0

Sligo RFC 38

Having secured a first ever Connacht domestic league and cup double for the club and hosting the top Irish club team in the Bateman cup semi final, Sligo’s return to All Ireland division 2B action resulted in a comprehensive defeat of neighbours Ballina RFC, in a match that cemented Sligo’s status as rugby kingpins of the northwest.

Sligo put their neighbours to the sword with a clinical display that saw the Yeats men punish their hosts by crossing the whitewash six times without reply.

With Ballina’s newly developed pitch unavailable due to over use, the match was moved to the traditional home of Ballina’s riverside pitch, a pitch which has witnessed many fine battles between two great clubs, but in this encounter Sligo were superior in all facets of play.

On a soft track Ballina made the most of the early exchanges with Luke Sweeney and Calum Quinn taking the fight to their visitors but Sligo were prepared for the early onslaught and defensive work from Daire Byrne, Mark Butler, Enda Gavin and Philip Carter ensured the early pressure was repelled with no reward to the home side. 

Sligos excellent defensive pressure and patience swung the pendulum to the Yeats county men and with 10 minutes gone the first blow was struck. A sweeping left to right move on the Ballina 22 gave Calum Goddard a sniff of the line and in typical fashion the Sligo speedster left the defence for dead and touched down in the right corner. 

Ballina gamely tried to redress the early setback but Sligo were in determined mode and a second try was manufactured midway through the first half. Sligo’s Outhalf, Euan Brown, collected on the 22 and brilliantly stepped inside the onrushing defence before racing to the line to touch down under the posts. The outhalf chipped over the conversion and Sligo were ahead by 12.

Sligo were purring now and continued to go about their business with ruthless efficiency. Shane Boyle and Diarmuid O’Dowd Hill were causing havoc at the Ballina lineout, Sligo’s front row of Tom Gormely, Shane O’Hehir and Kuba Wojtkowicz were dominating the home scrum and youngster Donnacha Byrne was carrying powerfully to keep his side on the front foot. 

Having scored on the 10th and 20th minute Sligo kept to script and picked up their third of the day with half an hour on the clock. Wojtkowicz collected on the 22 and powered his way through the despairing home defence to touch down under the posts. Brown converted to move Sligo’s total to 19.

Sligo continued to press and looked likely to pick up the four try bonus point with a series of scrum penalties on the Ballina 5 metre line just before the interval. Despite Sligo’s dominance, and the issuance of yellow card to the home team for repeated infringements, Ballina survived the onslaught and the teams went into halftime with Sligo 19-0 ahead.

Following the resumption any hope of a Ballina resurrection was completely obliterated with Sligo’s bonus point try. 

Fine work from Jason East and Matthew Davey halted a Ballina attack on the Sligo 22. Shane O’Hehir collected on the edge at the 10 metre line and raced into the Ballina half before releasing the excellent Ryan Feehily who outpaced the cover defence and touched down in the right corner.

Sligo continued to play at an intensity that the home team were unable to live with. Matthew Earley, Brian West, James O’Hehir and Brendan Cunningham were all added to the mix and all fitted in seamlessly.

The large travelling support were on cloud nine and their team continued to deliver. Try number 5 arrived on the hour with Goddard repeating his effort from the first half. Goddard was again involved with the final try of the day when linking with Brown who capped a super performance with his second of the day to close out the scoring on an excellent day for Sligo RFC. 

Coaches Paddy Pearson and Jason East will be delighted with the manner their charges ruthlessly picked their hosts apart and will be looking to use the performance as a template for further success through the second half of the AIL season.

Sligo now take a well deserved break before hosting Malahide RFC on January 25th. The match kicks off at 2.30 at Hamilton Park.

Sligo. Enda Gavin, Calum Goddard, Mark Butler, Daire Byrne, Philip Carter, Euan Brown, Ryan Feehily, Tom Gormely, Shane O’Hehir, Kuba Wojtkowicz, Rob Holian, Shane Boyle, Donnacha Byrne, Diarmuid O’Dowd Hill, Jason East. Reps: Matthew Earley, Matthew Davey, James O’Hehir, Brian West, Brendan Cunningham.