Category Archives: News

IRFU and Provinces Suspend All Rugby Activity

The Irish Rugby Football Union, together with Connacht, Leinster, Munster and Ulster Rugby have announced the suspension of all Domestic Rugby activity from 6pm this evening 12th March until the 29th March (inclusive), in response to the latest Government advice on the Coronavirus (Covid – 19) pandemic. 

Future Domestic Rugby activity will be reviewed in line with government advice.

Training and Playing:

All Rugby activities across Clubs and Schools , from minis to adult rugby, must now cease. 

Clubhouse Operations:

While Rugby Clubs may wish to continue to operate facilities such as bars and function-rooms they must observe government restrictions in relation to the number of people that may attend indoor (no more than 100 people) and outdoor (no more than 500 people) events.

Impact on fixtures of note:

We will work with clubs and schools to rearrange fixtures, such as the Schools Cup finals.

Professional Game:

Updates, when available, in relation to the professional game will come from tournament organizers.

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.

Happy New Year

we would like to thank you, our members, sponsors, supporters and friends for all your help and support in 2019 and wish you the very best of health and happiness in 2020

The Development of Sligo RFC – the story so far
Sligo Rugby Club will be 130 years old in 2020 and the club continues to grow with its 22 teams and almost 700 members.  Along with this growth, comes the development of many aspects of the club to meet the needs of its members.

In 2016, a four-phase plan was put into action to improve the facilities at Hamilton Park and since then, Sligo RFC has invested circa €525,000 in the Club’s facilities; securing the grounds, Clubhouse facelift and repairs, new all-weather training pitch, re-developed grass pitch, lighting, dugouts and car park.

2017 Development Plans become reality

In 2017 the Government unveiled details of its €56 million Capital Sports Grants Programme. Sporting clubs in the North West will receive over €1million in government funding, with €825,000 being allocated to twenty-nine sporting clubs in Co. Sligo. Sligo RFC are the biggest beneficiaries in the county, with a grant of €78,000 for the redevelopment of the clubhouse.

Under the 2017 application, the original plan was to refurbish the existing dressing rooms on the town side of the building and involved a circa €200k project. The success with the grant and the subsequent success with Club fundraising events encouraged the membership to push on with the development plans and we have since applied for, and have recently been granted, planning permission to build new dressing rooms on the Strandhill side of the Clubhouse building. The overall project is now circa €470k. We hope to achieve this in two phases – Phase 1 will be the new build dressing rooms at circa €270k and Phase 2 will be the refurbishment of the old dressing rooms at circa €200k.

The tender process is well under way for Phase 1 and our architect and our QS is working hard with the tender firms to bring the cost in-line with our budget.

The club hopes to begin construction on the 1st April 2020 with a completion date by the end of summer 2020.

Starting in early 2020 the Club General Committee will be asking the entire Club to get behind our BIG spring development fundraiser “The OsKars” taking place in March 2020. All funds raised in this essential fundraiser will go towards the cost of providing the Club with Phase 1 of the build.
2020 will also see the re-introduction of Investor Development Packages – keep an eye on local press and website for details.

The Club are deeply indebted to the members and friends of Sligo RFC, sponsors and the local business community who continue to support the development of this great club.

Bateman Cup Semi Final

Sligo go down fighting in Bateman Semi

Sligo RFC 10

Cork Constitution 38

Having qualified for the 2020 All Ireland Bateman Cup by virtue of the recent Connacht Senior Cup success, Sligo were handed a task of David and Goliath proportions by drawing All Ireland League Division 1 runaway leaders Cork Constitution in the semi final of Irish Club Rugby’s most prestigious cup competition. 

Constitution hold a proud record in the Bateman Cup having won an unprecedented five in a row titles from 2013 to 2018 and arrived to Strandhill having won all nine of their AIL fixtures this season. 

Come kick off time, a large crowd had assembled at Hamilton Park to witness a proud day in the long history of Sligo RFC and though the fairytale of a Sligo win did not come to fruition, some of the rugby played was outstanding and a credit to both clubs.

Constitution, captained by Sligo native and Irish Clubs International Captain Niall Kenneally, signalled their intent early as they produced an excellent first quarter of high intensity precision rugby, starving Sligo of any meaningful possession, which produced trys from Vincent O’Brien, Alex McHenry and a double from Barry Galvin. 

Sligo, to their credit, gamely stuck to their task and began to get a foothold into the game. Fine work at the scrum by Tom Gormely and Jason East earned a scrum penalty on the halfway line and Euan Brown put in a perfect touch finder to place Sligo five yards from the ‘Con line. 

Shane O’Hehir found Shane Boyle at the lineout, Boyle transferred to Ryan Feehily who linked up with senior debutant Donnacha Byrne. The ball was quickly recycled and East, Rob Holian and Ciaran Cassidy all tested the visiting 

defence before Brown put in an inch perfect left to right cross kick for Calum Goddard to collect and touch down in the corner.

‘Con again responded and Galvins third of the day put the score to 5-31 at the interval. 

Following the resumption Sligo continued to battle, brining the game to the visitors at every opportunity. The returning Kuba Wojtkowicz was proving a handful with some barnstorming runs into the heart of defence, ably supported by Matt Davey. Daire Byrne, Mark Butler, Philip’s Carter and Enda Gavin were defending with huge intensity. Brian West and Diarmuid O’Dowd Hill brought energy to proceedings when called into the fray.

Despite the Herculean Sligo defensive effort, Kenneallys well timed pass put Mc Henry over for his second of the day with 10 minutes remaining, but it was the home side that finished out the scoring.

Pressure on the ‘Con attack forced a turnover on the halfway line. Brendan Cunningham switched play to the left and Matthew Early made an excellent break into the 22. James O’Hehir secured possession at the ruck and Cunningham moved the ball quickly right. Butler threw a long pass to Feehily who stepped inside the cover before releasing Goddard to touch down in the corner. 

Despite the score line, Sligo will take heart from the performance against opponents of such high quality and will undoubtedly use the game as a springboard to drive to further success when they resume their Division 2B AIL campaign with a trip to Mayo to lock horns with Ballina next Saturday. 

The match kicks off at Heffernan Park at 2.30pm

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

History Makers!

History Makers!

Sligo RFC 19

Corinthians RFC 12

On a monumental day in the 129 year history of the club, Sligo completed their first Connacht Senior League and Cup double when they overcame a strong Corinthians outfit in a tough encounter at the Sportsgrounds in Galway on Sunday. 

Sligo had to come from behind twice in a seesaw encounter which will be long remembered in the annals of the history of the proud club. Coming off the back of 7 energy sapping back to back weeks of high intensity rugby the Sligo heroes went to the well once more and to a man they delivered a performance worthy of champions. 

Sligo kicked off, playing towards the College Road end, with the aid of the breeze. Corinthians failed to deal with the kick off and Sligo were given a foothold in opposition territory which eventually resulted in a well struck three pointer from the in form Euan Brown. 

Corinthians were stung into life and worked their way into the game with their strong carrying forwards forcing the Sligo defence back. The sustained period of pressure from the Galway men was rewarded with the first try of the game with a touchdown in the right corner to take the lead with a half an hour gone. 

Sligo responded and almost immediately retook the lead with another Brown penalty before extending the lead with Browns third successful kick of the day right on the stroke of halftime. 

The match was on a knife edge with both teams in looking to wrest control. Every scrum was hotly contested with Matthew Earley, Tom Gormely and Mark Keegan giving nothing to the massive Corinthians front row. Shane O’Hehir was combining well with Shane Boyle and Rob Holian to ensure Sligo possession from touch and Matt Davey, Ciaran Cassidy, Brian West and Jason East were putting in a mountain of work in open play.

The tribesmen were next to strike with a converted try from a well executed trick lineout play in the left corner to take a three point advantage. 

Sligo again regrouped and quickly put the setback behind them to work their way back behind enemy lines. A lineout on the 5 metre line in the left corner set the platform for a sustained attack. The forwards carried hard before scrum half Brendan Cunningham released the backline. Brown, Ryan Feehily and Mark Butler all put hands on the ball before full back Enda Gavin joined the line and burst over in the right corner. 

14-12 with 8 minutes remaining the prize was there for whoever wanted it most. Corinthians threw the proverbial kitchen sink at the Yeats men but the Sligo belief was strong and Sligo were winning the individual battles.

Wingers, Calum Goddard and Philip Carter, and substitute Daire Byrne all made telling defensive hits to press home the Sligo advantage before the final hammer blow came with five minutes remaining. 

Cassidy reacted quickest to a loose Corinthians line out and drove forward before linking with Shane O’Hehir who raced from 15 metres out to squeeze in at the right corner.

Corinthians again tried to respond but Sligo had drawn a defensive line on the 10 meter mark and nothing was going to breach it. 

The final play saw Feehily boot the ball to touch and the Sligo players and supporters were in rugby heaven. Connacht Branch President Ted Carty presented the cup to Sligo co-captains Shane O’Hehir and Ryan Feehily who raised the cup with their team to top off a historic year for the club. 

A further reward for the valiant Sligo team is a place in the semi final of the prestigious All Ireland Bateman Cup. Sligo have been handed a home draw and will be hosting none other than All Ireland League Division 1a leaders Cork Constitution at Hamilton Park in early January. 

Sligo: Enda Gavin, Calum Goddard, Mark Butler, Ryan Feehily, Philip Carter, Euan Brown, Brendan Cunningham, Matthew Earley, Shane O’Hehir, Tom Gormely, Ciaran Cassidy, Rob Holian, Shane Boyle, Brian West, Matt Davey, Mark Keegan, Ross O’Boyle, James O’Hehir, Jason East, Daire Byrne.

AIL2B Sligo take spoils in local derby

Sligo RFC 19

Ballina RFC 13

Sligo’s final All Ireland League 2B match of 2019 ended in a victory over Mayo rivals Ballina in a tense affair at Strandhill on Saturday. Sligo outscored the visitors by three trys to two but had to come back from an early defecit of 10 points to secure the match points.

Sligo kicked off, playing towards Knocknarea, into the slight breeze and immediately put pressure on Ballina. Rob Holian secured an early lineout steal and Sligo marched towards the line, Ciaran Cassidy carried powerfully before being hauled down on the five metre and Sligo looked to have Ballina on the rack. Matt Davey carried to the line but unfortunately for the home side inaccuracy caused the turnover and the defense were let off the hook. 

Ballina made the most of the reprieve and used their backline to good effect to work their way into the game. With 10 minutes gone the visitors struck the first blow. A pinpoint cross kick from outhalf Dylan Predergast was collected in the right corner by Billy Mc Vann and the hooker touched down out wide. 

Sligo were in a battle and the job became more difficult when Fergal Tully crashed over for Ballina’s second midway through the first half. 

The home team rallied and immediately looked to hit back. Shane Boyle put pressure on the restart and Sligo reclaimed possession. Tom Gormely, Shane O’Hehir and Mark Butler were prominent as Sligo made inroads into the Ballina defence as Sligo looked to open their account. 

With five minutes remaining in the half Euan Brown put up an inch perfect left to right cross field kick for Calum Goddard to collect and beat the cover defence to open Sligo’s account. 

The teams turned around with the visitors holding a five point lead. 

Sligo’s improvement continued and the lead was wrestled from the visitors grasp five minutes in. Jason East picked and went right from the back of a Sligo scrum on the opposition ten metre line. East linked up with scrum half Brendan Cunningham who drew the cover for Goddard to race to the line for his and Sligo’s second try. Brown struck a sweet conversion to take the lead for the locals.

The Sligo pack were gaining control particularly at the scrum where Matthew Early was giving a performance way beyond his years in only his second senior start at loosehead prop. Sean Wynne was tackling himself to a standstill until he had to leave the fray with an ankle injury. 

With the strong scrum a foundation for attack Sligo worked their way into the Ballina scoring zone. Gormely put pressure on the Ballina scrum which gave East the platform to drive over for Sligo’s third of the day. 

Ballina gamely fought to close the gap but the Sligo defence stood strong with Enda Gavin, Ryan Feehily and Philip Carter to the fore . A penalty on seventy-eight minutes closed the gap to six but when the long whistle blew it was the home team that celebrated.

Sligo now take a break from league action until the return fixture with Ballina on January 11th. 

Next week sees Sligo travel to the Connacht Rugby headquarters in the Sportsgrounds in Galway to take on Galway Corinthians in the Connacht Senior Cup final. The match kicks off at the earlier time of 1.30pm on Sunday. 

Enda Gavin, Calum Goddard, Mark Butler, Ryan Feehily, Philip Carter, Euan Brown, Brendan Cunningham, Matthew Earley, Shane O’Hehir, Tom Gormely, Ciaran Cassidy, Rob Holian, Shane Boyle, Sean Wynne, Matt Davey, reps Ross O’Boyle, James O’Hehir, Jason East, Brian West, Daire Byrne