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AIL 2B – Honours Even At Strandhill

Sligo RFC 27

Skerries RFC 27

Sligo had to dig deep to come from behind to earn a well-deserved 3 points in a roller coaster All Ireland League 2B encounter at a windy Strandhill on Saturday.

Despite the drawn result, come the final whistle it was the home side that gained a slight advantage, as they picked up the all-important 4 try bonus to go with the two match points with the visitors having to be content with 2 points having only scored 3 trys.

Playing towards the airport end with the advantage of the swirling breeze, Sligo kicked off and immediately tried to pressurise their opponents. With their lively backline, the visitors looked to put width on the ball early, but Sligo’s defence stood strong early on and an error was forced on the halfway. Skerries impinged at the scrum and Sligo went right from the resulting free kick. The play was switched back with Euan Brown putting Tom Gormley through the middle before a handling error allowed Skerries to clear.

Relief was short lived however as a clever Ryan Feehily chip and an excellent Shane O’Hehir chase camped Sligo on the visitors line. The ball was moved wide to the right where Mata Fifita used all his strength to power over five metres from the corner. Jack Keegan added a super kick to get the maximum benefit for Sligo.

With 7 minutes gone Sligo struck again. From a midfield scrum Mark Butler kicked down the right hand side. The Skerries full back failed to deal with the situation and Keegan latched onto to the loose ball, kicking ahead and winning the chase to the line for Sligos second of the day. The winger added to his tally with another well struck conversion and Sligo were 14 ahead.

Skerries came roaring back and brought their strong running backs into play. Sligo were struggling to retain any useful possession and the visitors profited with a three try blitz in 8 minutes to overturn the deficit and take a 7 point lead of their own.

Sligo coach Paddy Pearson made some slight adjustments and Sligo regained the momentum with a scrum penalty earned by Conor Mitchell. The gap was narrowed to two just before the break when Rob Holian powered his way over from 5 yards out following some fine approach play by Kuba Wojtkowicz , Matt Davey and Enda Gavin.

Following the resumption Skerries were awarded penalties on the 45 and 50th minutes to push the lead out to 8 points before Sligo clawed their way back again. A Mitchell burst on the halfway set the ball rolling before Holian and Gormely added to the drive. Replacement Scrum Half Brendan Cunningham fizzed the ball to the right and Butler threw out a long pass which was picked up by openside flanker Sean Wynne. Wynne linked up with Keegan before receiving again from Brown and racing in wide on the right.

Keegans conversion was ruled out by the touch judges to the dismay of the spectators behind the goals who were convinced that the kick was good.

Brown levelled the scores with 10 minutes remaining with a well struck effort into the breeze from outside the 22, but despite late Sligo pressure the scorekeeper was untroubled from then to the end of the match and both sides had to be content with the draw.

With other results on the day favouring Sligo, the three points has pushed the Yeats men up to 4th on the division 2A table with 6 games to go. Next Saturday Sligo travel to Magherafelt to lock horns with Rainey Old Boys who lie one place ahead of Sligo in the league table. The match kicks off at 2.30 at Hatrick Park.

Sligo Mark Butler, Jack Keegan, Enda Gavin, Mata Fifita, Brendan Cunningham, Euan Brown, Ryan Feehily(co–capt) , Kuba Wojtkowicz, Shane O’Hehir (co-capt), Tom Gormely, Rob Holian, Ciaran Cassidy, Matt Davey, Sean Wynne, Jason East. Reps Conor Mitchell, Diarmuid o’Dowd-Hill,  Jake Sexton, Niall Gray , Sean Mullin

Sligo Man Lifts Dalriada Cup for Ireland Club XV

Victorious Ireland captain Niall Kenneally is presented with the Dalriada Cup by IRFU Committee member Michael Collopy ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Victorious Ireland captain Niall Kenneally is presented with the Dalriada Cup by IRFU Committee member Michael Collopy ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Although the Ireland V Scotland Club XV game finished 19 – 19 at Energia Park, Ireland’s efforts in securing a 23 – 9 victory in Scotland the previous Friday, meant they finished as 14 point aggregate winners over the two games, winning back the Dalriada Cup for the first time in five years and it was Sligo man Niall Kenneally who captained the Clubs team to victory. Current captain of Cork Con and having formerly played with Summerhill College and Sligo RFC, Niall is the first Sligo man to captain an Irish rugby team.

AIL 2B: Pipped by Corinthians

Sligo RFC 17 Galway Corinthians 18

Sligo suffered a first loss in five outings when they went down by the smallest margins against a physical Corinthians outfit at Strandhill on Saturday.

Having moved ahead with only seconds left Sligo were devastated when a late Corinthian penalty saw the visitors sneak past to take the victory.

Despite the recent heavy rain the pitch was in fine fettle when the two sides took to the field to lock horns.

The locals kicked off playing into the breeze towards the mountain end and a fine chase and contest in the air from Philip Carter immediately put pressure on the tribesmen.

Sligo were in determined form and early carries from Kuba Wojtkowicz and Rob Holian positioned Sligo into the Corinthians 22.

Corinthians repelled the early pressure but when Sligo were awarded a 5 metre penalty under the posts, the forwards sensed an opportunity and a scrum was called.

Conor Mitchell, Shane O’Hehir and Tom Gormaley put on the squeeze and the Sligo 8 inched towards the line.

Despite the Sligo dominance the referee was calling for the ball to be used so Ryan Feehily picked and darted in to touch down behind the left post.

Jack Keegan popped over the straightforward conversion and Sligo were up by 7.

The game ebbed and flowed with Sligo trying to work their way back into the Corinthians danger zone and the visitors feeding their big ball carrying forwards at every opportunity.

With a half an hour played the tribesmen opened their own account. A loose Sligo clearance kick was fielded by right winger Caomhen Brennan. The speedster used his pace to cut back to the left hand side and link up with outhalf Simon Keller. Kellers pass released left winger Micheal O’Reilly who finished off in the left corner. The conversion was missed but Sligo’s 2 point lead was short lived when just before the break, Corinthians crashed over for their second of the day following a sustained period of pressure by their giant pack. The successful conversion put the half time score to 7-12

Following the resumption the visitors lead was further extended with a penalty before the Sligo scrum earned a penalty try to move within a point with 10 minutes on the clock. Sligo gamely went on the hunt for what would surely be the match winning score. Mata Fifita was making inroads in midfield ably supported by Matt Davey from the back row and Ciaran Cassidy was using his power to move Sligo forward at every opportunity. With 8 minutes left on the clock , substitute Euan Brown made an excellent half break to bring play to the Corinthians 22. The visitors conceded a penalty and Keegan bisected the posts to put Sligo two points clear with little or no time left.

The visitors restarted and Sligo collected the kick and looked to drive their way out of the danger zone but to the dismay of the locals the ref raised his arm towards the visitors. The ball was dispatched over the Sligo crossbar and the hearts of the Sligo faithful were broken.

Sligo now take a break from league action until Feb 16 when Skerries come to visit. Sligo sit 6th in the AIL Div 2B table but are only 1 point from a coveted top 4 position.

Sligo; Jack Keegan, Calum Goddard, Enda Gavin, Mata Fifita, Philip Carter, Mark Butler, Ryan Fehily (c), Jason East, Shane O’Hehir (c), Conor Mitchell, Ciaran Cassidy, Rob Holian, Kuba Wojtkowicz, Christan Nielsen, Matt Davey. Reps Tom Gormaley, Mark Keegan, Jake Sexton, Niall Gray, Euan Brown

 

 

AIL 2B : Sligo take the spoils in Belfast

Belfast Harlequins 12 Sligo 22

Sligo made light of the Christmas break and picked up where they left off in 2018 with a well worked victory over Belfast Harlequins in Deramore  Park on Saturday.

Sligo’s win stretches their successful run to 4 from 4 and moves them to within 3 points of third place in the All Ireland League division 2B table.

With no breeze, and a fast surface, Sligo kicked off, and keenly contested outhalf Mark Butler’s kick to immediately put pressure on their hosts. The ball was won back and Christian Nielsen drove into the ‘Quins defence before being hauled down outside the 22. The home team were forced to concede the penalty and Jack Keegan stepped up to bisect the posts and open his, and Sligo’s account.

The hosts fought back to open their own account and earned a penalty outside the Sligo 22 but the kick went wide and Sligo remained in front.

The game was now in full flow with both sides testing the others defence. Sligo stood firm with Kuba Wojtkowicz and Matt Davey prominent in defence , driving back the locals with big tackles.

Sligo’s  workrate and pressure paid off midway through the half when Shane O’Hehir latched on to an overthrown ‘Quins line out and drove into the attacking 22. From the resulting breakdown scrum half Ryan Feehily quickly moved the ball left to Wojtkowicz to drive towards the line. Again the ball was moved left and Butler wrong fotted the defence to race in and touch down to the left of the posts. Keegan converted and Sligo were 10 points clear.

Five minutes later  Sligo struck again. Pressure on the ‘Quins throw at a lineout on the home 22 forced a turnover. The ball was moved right to left to midfield where Mata Fifita used his power to make a half break before linking up with Keegan. Keegan drew the cover and a well-timed pass allowed winger Calum Goddard the chance to pin his ears back and race to the corner to put the Score at 0-15 going in at the interval.

Following the resumption Sligo continued to press. The powerful scrummaging of Conor Mitchell, O’Hehir and Tom Gormaley  and reserve prop Mark Keegan was causing the visitors all kinds of trouble. The engine room of Rob Holian and Ciaran Cassidy were proving a handful at lineout time and in the loose. Enda Gavin was proving his worth in midfield with some excellent defensive work and Philip Carter, as usual was rock solid on the left wing.

Sligo picked up their third try of the day 10 minutes into the half. O’Hehir found Holian at a lineout inside the ‘Quinns 22. Wojtkowicz drove to the right down the blind side before Feehily moved the ball left. David Heath and Fifita carried before Feehily picked at a ruck close to the line and darted in to touch down. Keegan converted to move Sligo even further ahead.

The hosts responded and picked up two late scores but the day belonged to the Visitors and when the referee blew the long blast it was the Sligo faithful that were cheering.

Next Saturday, Sligo host Galway Corinthians in an eagerly awaited Connacht Derby. Having narrowly taken the spoils in the reverse fixture Sligo will be hoping to repeat the dose but Coaches Paddy Pearson and Jason East are well aware that the tribesmen will be keenly seeking revenge. The match kicks off at 2.30 at Hamilton park

Sligo Jack Keegan, Calum Goddard, Enda Gavin, Mata Fifita, Philip Carter, Mark Butler, Ryan Feehily, Tom Gormaley, Shane O’Hehir (co-captain), Conor Mitchell, Rob Holian, Kuba Wojtkowicz, Christian Nielsen, Matt Davey. Reps : Mark Keegan, Jake Sexton, Euan Brown, Niall Gray, David Heath.

 

Eddie O’Hehir R.I.P

It is with profound sadness that the members of Sligo RFC have learned of the passing of our dear friend and member Eddie O’Hehir.

On behalf of the President, Chairperson, Committee, players and members of Sligo RFC we extend our deepest sympathies to Caroline, Garry, Rachael, Dannielle and Aisling,  to Eddie’s brothers and sisters Mary, Connie, Colette, Jan, Jim, Jacqueline, Michael, Hugh, Lorna, Cathal, Enda and Irene, and to the wider O’Hehir and Henry families.

It is seldom that a sporting Club has members that extend beyond a few relatives with interests in the sport, however when it comes to the O’Hehir family, Sligo RFC is most fortunate to have representation from them at all levels within the Club. The O’Hehirs have provided generations of players, coaches, members, friends, committee members, Juvenile and Youth Co-ordinators, Past Presidents, generous sponsors and huge rugby fans of both the local, provincial and the international game.

Eddie was introduced to rugby at Sligo RFC in the Juvenile Section during the 70’s. He moved to Dublin and joined Bective RFC where he played for a time. In more recent meetings between Bective RFC and Sligo RFC in the All Ireland League, his time with Bective was recalled fondly by their current incoming President who packed down with Eddie during his own time as a Bective player.

Eddie returned to Sligo and played with the Club in the 1980’s and 1990’s where he served as a stalwart front row player to many senior and junior teams over the years.

A huge international fan, Eddie joined by Caroline became frequent travellers to Dublin, London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Paris, Rome and beyond in support of Ireland’s rugby endeavours.

As Garry grew up through the Club, Eddie was an ever present helping out at Juvenile and Youth training and games. One of his more recent roles in the club was lining the pitch which he performed diligently ensuring that the club always looked its best on match day. Seldom did he miss a senior game in the Club and even in more recent times, despite his illness he made sure he was on the sideline to cheer Sligo on from his preferred sideline spot, just inside the main gate.

Eddie will be sadly missed by his many friends at Sligo RFC, may he rest in peace.

Reposing at the family home at 7 Barn Owl Road, Kevinsfort, from 4.00pm to 8.00pm on Monday, January 7th. Home private to family at all other times please. Mass of the resurrection at 11.30am on Tuesday, January 8th, in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Sligo. Burial follows in St. Patrick’s Cemetery, Scarden, Strandhill Road, Sligo. Family flowers only please. Donations in lieu if desired to The Irish Cancer Society or North West Hospice Fund c/o Seán Feehily at Feehily’s Funeral Home, Cartron Cross, Sligo.

 

AIL:2B Three in a row for Sligo

Sligo RFC 24

Belfast Harlequins RFC 14

 

Sligo rounded off their competitive program for 2018 with a well worked win, earning four precious AIL league points, over Belfast Harlequins at Strandhill on Saturday.

The win moves Sligo into fifth place in Division 2B as the League takes a halftime break until the resumption on January 19th.

With an earlier kick off of 2pm due to the shorter day and Hamilton park being buffeted by severe gusts, Harlequins kicked off playing towards the airport with the aid of the elements.

The visitors enjoyed much of the early possession but Sligo’s defensive line was ferocious to the point that ‘Quins were forced back in to their own 22 and conceded an early penalty.

Jack Keegan popped the kick over the bar to open his and Sligo’s account.

The visitors responded with their own penalty on 12 minutes and made use of the wind to take the lead with another well struck effort on the fifteen minute mark.

Sligo restarted and regained possession with a super take from Philip Carter giving his team the chance to work their way into the visitors 22.

Kuba Wojtkowicz , Ciaran Cassidy and Rob Holian carried strongly and bit by bit Sligo forced their way closer to the try line.

The sustained pressure eventually paid off and Sligo were awarded a penalty five yards from the line.

The forwards smelled blood and the decided to go for the maximum reward by opting for the scrum.

Conor Mitchell put on the pressure and Sligo shunted towards the line but ‘Quins infringed and Sligo opted to scrum again.

Quins infringed again to prevent the pushover and when Sligo once again opted for the scrum it looked like a penalty try was the likely outcome for Sligo’s dominance.

Ryan Feehily had other ideas and with the visiting back row committed to the scrum , Feehily picked and darted to the left to touch down at the post.

Keegan converted and Sligo were back in front.

Harlequins moved back to within a single point with another well struck penalty before taking the lead with a try out wide on the left to put the half time score at 10-14.

For the second time in two weeks Sligo were behind at the interval and were turning with the breeze at their backs and once again Head Coach Paddy Pearson and Player Coach Jason East impressed on their charges that the excellent work rate would reap the deserved reward.

With the wind gusting fiercely Sligo upped the intensity and Mark Butler took full advantage with some excellent kicking from hand, coupled with great chase play from Calum Goddard and Enda Gavin, to position Sligo in the ‘Quins danger zone.

Sligo put on the pressure with some excellent carries and again the visitors were forced into the concession of a penalty close to the line.

Once again the scrum was called and when Shane O’Hehir struck the put-in, Sligo shunted towards the line. With Shane Boyle in full control at the base, the inevitable infringement was forced and this time the referee went to the posts to award the penalty try.

With fifteen minutes remaining, the sky went black and a deluge was dumped on Hamilton park but this did not deter Sligo, who despite the horrendous conditions, continued to play with purpose.

Sean Wynne secured a lineout on the 22 and the ball was move midfield. Mata Fifita carried strongly and the ruck was set up in front of the posts. The ball was quickly recycled and Matt Davey took an excellent line to burst through the cover and touch down on the right.

Keegan’s conversion was the final score of the game and when the ref blew for full time the Sligo faithful celebrated a well deserved victory.

Although Sligo will be out of competitive action until the new year , the annual St Stephens day match will be an opportunity for players to ‘work off’ the Christmas dinner.

The match kicks off at 2 pm on the 26th and returning and local players and friends are welcome to Hamilton park for some fun rugby and hospitality in the club house afterwards.

Sligo Jack Keegan, Calum Goddard, Enda Gavin, Mata Fifita, Philip Carter, Mark Butler, Ryan Feehily (co–captain), Kuba Wojtkowicz, Shane O’Hehir (co–captain), Conor Mitchell, Ciaran Cassidy, Rob Holian, Jason East, Matt Davey, Shane Boyle. Reps Sean Wynne, Ross O’Boyle, Sean Mullin, Jake Sexton, Niall Gray.

 

AIL 2B: Two in a row for Sligo

Corinthians RFC 17

Sligo RFC 19

Sligo made it two in a row in their ALL Ireland League campaign with a superbly crafted 2 point win over a physical Corinthians outfit in Galway on Saturday. Sligo’s defence and discipline were the two pillars of a game plan that was executed superbly by a wholly committed Sligo team.

Playing into the teeth of a ferocious wind Sligo kicked off and had to withstand an immediate barrage from a fired up local outfit intent on bringing their big ball carriers into the fray as often as possible. The Sligo defence stood strong however, with Mark Butler, Enda Gavin and Calum Goddard all putting in bone shuddering tackles in the early stages. Prop forward Tom Gormaley threw himself into tackles like man possessed despite carrying a hamstring injury and one hit from powerhouse Mata Fifita must have left his opposite number wondering what day of the week it was.

Inevitably, with such a wind  advantage, the local were going to score at some stage in the first half, and Corinthians picked up trys on the half hour and just prior to the interval to move into a 10 point lead.

Sligo coaches Paddy Pearson and Jason East rallied the troops at half time , impressing on them the importance of keeping faith with the system and to continue with the herculean effort being displayed.

Following the resumption the excellent work rate began to pay off as Sligo began to dominate in the scrum and make inroads into ‘blue’ territory. With 50 minutes on the clock Sligo struck. A scrum on the half way line on the right hand side was wheeled towards touch. Scrum Half Ryan Feehily saw his chance and made a searing break down the blind side before being hauled down in the 22.  Sligo recycled quickly and good hands from Butler , Gavin and Jack Keegan gave Philip Carter the opportunity to finish on the left. Keegan put over an excellent conversion and Sligo were within 3!

Sligo continued to press, with the scrum causing the locals all sorts of problems and the defensive line speed continuously forcing errors. Hooker Shane O’Hehir was putting in his best performance in a Sligo shirt this season with second rows Ciaran Cassidy and Rob Holian causing mayhem with powerful carries time after time. The backrow of Matthew Davey, Shane Boyle and Sean Wynne, who was incidentally only making his first start in a Sligo senior jersey, hit everything that moved, setting the tone for the rest of the team.

Keegan brought the scores level with another well struck penalty on 55 minutes, and proved his invaluable worth by putting his side into the lead with another excellent effort on 60 mins to take the lead.

Sligo were now in full flow and a sustained period of pressure in the Corinthians 22 resulted in Butler slotting over a sweetly struck drop goal to extend the lead for his side. Corinthians tried to respond but Sligo were not taking a backward step.

The intensity spilled over with 10 minutes remaining with a good old fashioned dust up erupting with all 30 players involved. To the disbelief of the Sligo faithful when all had calmed down the referee awarded a penalty to Corinthians and sent two Sligo players and only one local to the sin bin.

With Sligo down two forwards Corinthians sensed an opportunity and elected to take the scrum. Sligo, however, were not to be broken and a huge effort from Conor Mitchell and Kuba Wojtkowicz forced a penalty and Keegan made no mistake with the kick.

Corinthians made the most of the numerical advantage with a try in the dying moments but it was too late for a comeback and come the long whistle there were jubilant scenes from the travelling supporters.

The much needed win moves Sligo up to 6th in UBL div 2B table with one more fixture before the Christmas break.

Next Saturday sees Belfast Harlequins come to Strandhill with an earlier kick off time of 2pm.

Sligo Jack Keegan, Calum Goddard, Enda Gavin, Mata Ffitia, Calum Goddard, Mark Butler, Ryan Feehily (Co Capt.) Kuba Wojtkowicz,  Shane O’Hehir, Tom Gormaley, Rob Holian, Ciaran Cassidy, Matt Davey, Sean Wynne, Shane Boyle. Reps: Ross O’Boyle, Conor Mitchell, Jack Sexton, Niall Gray, Brendan Cunningham

 

 

Back to the 80s

Time to turn back the clock and go back to the rugby club disco. The Back to the 80s Big Christmas Party will take place on Saturday 15th December from 9.30pm ‘til very late, with prizes for the best 80s costume. This event is strictly over 18s and is open to the public, with all profit going to the Sligo RFC Development Fund. Tickets are priced at €15 each and are available from Keane’s Centra Strandhill, Cosgrove’s Centra Maugheraboy and The Record Room.