Castlebar Too Strong For Depleted Sligo In Cawley Cup

Sligo 13 :: Castlebar 24

Sligo made their exit from the Cawley Cup at Hamilton Park on Sunday last when they were defeated by Castlebar in a lack lustre game. Injuries and the Easter holidays conspired to cause Sligo to field without Jamie Livingstone, Peter Mullan, David Greene, Cathal Culhane, Thomas Darcel and Nick Reynolds, and they struggled for long periods of the game.

Sligo had major problems in the scrums, as Castlebar wheeled at will on the home side’s feed, and they also dominated the line-outs. However, the visitors failed to take advantage of their abundant possession, and it was not until the 37th minute of the second half that they scored the clinching try. For their part, Sligo had two great chances of staging a grandstand finish, but each was spurned. In the 29th minute of the second half, Kakaber Machiditze ‘overcooked’ a penalty to the corner, with the score at 19-13, and just three minutes later, as the referee awarded Sligo a penalty on the ’22’ and in front of the posts, an infantile retaliation by a Sligo forward resulted in the penalty being reversed. A converted penalty would have reduced arrears to 19-16, and Sligo could possibly have gone on to win, as the visitors were making a lot of errors at this juncture. However, following their reprieve, Castlebar went on the attack, and winger Damien McLoughlin scored the decisive winning try.

Sligo trailed in the 8th minute, when scrum-half, Christy Cusack dropped a neat goal. The Castlebar lead was short-lived, as directly from the restart, second row, Simon Coulter charged down a clearance, and followed up to touch down, and full-back, Julian Rippon converted. After 15 minutes, Sligo led by 10-3 when Rippon converted a penalty.

The visitors were dominating the set pieces but out-half Robbie Cusack was having a dreadful day with his goal-kicking. Eventually they breached the defence when winger, Ciaran Flynn touched down in the 32nd minute for an unconverted try to close the gap to 10-8, and in injury tme, centre, Paul Coady crossed near the posts to give Castlebar a 13-10 interval lead, as incredibly, Cusack was again off target with the conversion.

At the resumption,Coady took over the kicking duties, and he duly scored with his first attempt when Julian Rippon was pinged and sin binned after 7 minutes for deliberately killing the ball. After 17 minutes Rippon was back in the action just in time to kick a 25 metre penalty to leave the score at 16-13. Coady restored the six point advantage after 24 minutes with a 30 metre penalty, and following this score Sligo enjoyed a period of superiority, but failed to add to their tally. Had they availed of the chances presented they could have fashioned a victory, which on the run of play they scarcely deserved.

With their pack playing below par, Sligo could not create the platform to launch many dangerous attacks. In the pack, debutant, Alan Brennan at blind side, worked very hard, while Simon Coulter also did well. Behind the scrum, Stuart O’Brien will be happy with his performance in the No 9 position, Billy Leahy in his new out-half role, distributed well, while full-back, Julian Rippon, was always prepared to attack, and landed three kicks from four attempts.

Sligo: Julian Rippon, Ted Mulvanney, Gavin Foley, Kakaber Machiditze, James Coulter, Billy Leahy, Stuart O’Brien, Adrian McHale [c.], Ronan Gillespie, Martin Feeney, Simon Coulter, Dermot Kiely, Alan Brennan, Trevor Sweeney, Steven Woods. Sub: Ross O’Boyle for Kiely. {Not Used: David Kilcoyne, Ciaran Stafford]

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