Sligo Gulls 12 – Galwegians 5
Hamilton Park hosted the clash of the titans last Sunday when Sligo 3rds team, The Gulls, took on Galwegians RFC, with the winner guaranteed to finish top of the Connacht J2 table.
Weather conditions were not conducive to free-flowing rugby, given the cold, driving rain and strong, swirling wind. Sligo suffered an early injury blow, when second row Dermot Keily had to retire from the game with a shoulder injury. He was replaced by newcomer Alan Naughton, who quickly made his presence felt. These were two very evenly matched teams, who traded blows for thirty minutes before the visitors finally broke the deadlock. Galwegians worked the ball through the pack and then spun it wide to score a try in the corner. The conversion was never going to win the battle with the wind and fell well short of its target. This was the only score in the first half and both teams retreated to the changing rooms to gather their thoughts and shelter from the elements.
The second half was another ding-dong battle, with some great rugby played in terrible conditions. Sligo were determined to strike first and after only 10 minutes on the clock, the home side went through the phases, with good rucking and ball retention and were eventually rewarded for their patience when hooker Nate Boult drove through the Galwegians’ defence to even the score line. Galwegians continued to apply pressure on the home side, but the Sligo defence was resolute and some solid play in the pack enabled them to extend their lead 10 minutes later through a Conor McElligott try. Clive Morris added the extras to put the home side 7 points up. The Sligo pack continued to pile on the pressure and retain possession. There was a late scare, when Galwegians made the most of the strong wind to clear their lines and the chase brought them within metres of the Sligo try line. The home side held their nerve and the supporters breathed a sigh of relief when out half Donal Brady kicked the ball to clear his lines and end the game.
Finishing top of the J2 league, having won five out of their six games, means that The Gulls have earned themselves a home semi-final against either Galwegians or Loughrea on March 3rd.
Sligo Gulls: Conor McElligot (1 try) Nate Boult (1 try) Jamie Herrity, Dermot Keily, Brian McNulty, Patrick Saba, Peter Walpole, Diarmuid O’Dowd Hill, Brian Brady, Donal Brady, Sean McVeigh, Clive Morris, Jack Gormley, Thomas McBride, Eoin McCormack, Aron Cranney, Alan Naughton, Callum McLoughlin, David Cummins, Mark Harte, Darren Harte, Jayme McGoldrick, Will Abbotts