Sligo’s Conor Mitchell and Seán Mullin made their Connacht Junior team debut last weekend in the Junior Interprovincial Championship opener against Ulster. The visitors proved too strong for the boys in green and they came away with all 4 points, plus a try bonus point in their 20-36 win in Castlebar RFC. Connacht’s next game is away to Leinster on May 4th.
Congratulations to the U16/17 players, who travelled to Wales last weekend to take part in the Osprey Challenge Rugby Festival. Sligo won all their pool games, beating Boyne RFC in their final game to win the trophy. Many thanks to those who organised the tour and to the coaches who braved the trip with the 40 players.
Over 40 boys and girls, aged 6-16 and with all levels of rugby experience, took part in the TotalHealth SkillZone, one-day Connacht Rugby camp
The focus of the day was small sided games which were fun and fast flowing. The event was run by Ross Mannion, Chris O’Neill, Simon O’Malley and Colm McWeeney, all Connacht Rugby staff who are IRFU accredited coaches, involved in both the Regional and Interprovincial squads.
The Connacht Rugby U-17 squad recently returned from a two-match tour of North Wales as part of their development ahead of the summer programme. Based out of Colwyn Bay, the 30-man squad completed a five-day, multi-faceted trip which incorporated strength & conditioning, on-pitch training, video analysis, goal and values setting, pool and sea recovery sessions and challenge matches against Sale Sharks U-17s and Cheshire County U-17s. Sligo were well-represented with Micheal Broaders, Eddie Coyle and Daire Cregg, along with Connacht U17s Assistant Coach Gavin Foley.
Sligo RFC hosted a visiting rugby team from Portland, Maine last week. Over 50 players and supporters were doing a tour of Ireland to celebrate their club’s 50th anniversary.
They played against a combined Development, Gulls and U20s team in Hamilton Park and the home team showed them no mercy, running out 20-12 victors over their guests.
The team and their travelling support were given a warm Irish welcome in the clubhouse afterwards, with entertainment by Dean Mahon. Thanks to Ross O’Boyle, Niall Gray and to all those who organised the visit.
Congratulations to Hubert Gilvarry, from the Sligo Grammar School and Sligo RFC, who was chosen for the Connacht Schools XV of the Year. The top 15 were picked by a panel of judges for their performances in this season’s Schools Cup.
The team were formally presented with their jerseys and introduced to the Connacht crowd at half-time of the Guinness PRO14 clash with Cardiff Blues in the Sportsground.
Blackrock College RFC 28 – Sligo RFC 27
Sligo’s dream of promotion to All Ireland League division 2A ended in the most dramatic circumstances with a one point loss to Blackrock College despite an incredible team performance at Stradbrook on Saturday.
Sligo qualified for the division AIL 2B playoffs following an incredible run of form which saw the team move from last place in the league table in December to securing 4th place with a game in hand which opened up the opportunity to lock horns with Blackrock for a place in the playoff final.
Unfortunately for the Yeats men, Lady Luck deserted them when she was needed most and the home team benefited from some incredibly controversial refereeing decisions to finish ahead by the smallest of margins when the final whistle was sounded.
With the sun beating down on an unseasonably warm Easter Saturday Blackrock kicked off into the Sligo pack. The pre match instructions from coaches Paddy Pearson and Jason East were to start well and to a man Sligo stood up. With the forwards having secured the kickoff, scrum half Ryan Feehily moved the ball left to Mark Butler. Butler threw a huge pass wide and right winger Calum Goddard, who had moved to the left for the play, collected and used his blistering pace to make his way to the halfway. A sweetly timed pass from Goddard released his left wing Philip Carter who outpaced the cover and touched down with only 45 seconds on the clock and the perfect start for Sligo.
The home team responded with penalty’s on the 10th and 15th minutes before Sligo regained the lead with an excellently struck Jack Keegan penalty midway through the half.
Sligo were in full flow, Shane O’ Hehir, Rob Holian, and Diarmuid O’Dowd Hill we’re controlling the lineout. Sean Wynne was halting every ‘Rock attack with his unending tackle count, Tom Gormely and Kuba Wojtkowicz were rock solid at the scrum and were a menace in the loose. The work rate from Ciaran Cassidy and Matt Davey mirrored the intent of the Sligo effort. Enda Gavin was sound at full back.
Sligo’s work rate was rewarded with a classic Ryan Feehily try on 25 minutes, the live wire scrum half leaving three would be tacklers in his wake on the way to touching down in the corner. Keegans excellently struck conversion moved Sligo’s lead to 9 points.
Rock again hit back with a penalty 3 pointer before a pinpoint Butler crossfield kick was superbly collected by Goddard and the speedy winger raced in for Sligo’s third try. Keegan again added the extras to move the score to 9-22.
Blackrock came again and worked their way in for a pick and drive try to put the half time score to 14-22.
Following the resumption Sligo struck again, Carter again using his strength and pace to finish another excellent Sligo score. 27-14 to Sligo.
Despite playing all the constructive rugby Sligo fell foul of some incredibly controversial refereeing decisions.
Yellow cards reduced the Sligo defensive effort and Blackrock were allowed back into contention with a try on 76 minutes before scoring the match winning try and conversion 6 minutes into injury time against a 13 man Sligo.
Come the final whistle on an emotional day for Sligo, tributes were paid to stalwarts Conor Mitchell and Mata Fifita who are both retiring following the end of Sligo’s season. Former club Captain Mitchell has been Instrumental in the progress of Sligo RFC since his arrival to the club and Fifita has been vital to Sligo’s success.
The work of Pearson, East, and Manager John Keegan has placed Sligo in rude health and the management team will undoubtedly be targeting promotion when the 2019/20 season rolls around.
Sligo RFC are on the up!
Sligo: Enda Gavin, Calum Goddard, Jack Keegan, Mata Fifita, Philip Carter, Mark Butler, Ryan Feehily, Kuba Wojtkowicz, Shane O’Hehir (Co-Capt),Tom Gormely, Rob Holian, Ciaran Cassidy, Diarmuid O’Dowd Hill, Sean Wynne, Matt Davey. reps Conor Mitchell, James O’Hehir, Shane Boyle, Brendan Cunningham, Niall Gray, Euan Brown, Jason East.
Congratulations to Ryan Feehily who was awarded the Senior Club Player of the Year title at the Connacht Awards night last Saturday in Galway. Sligo co-captain, Ryan is a dynamic scrum half, who plays apivotal role on the pitch. Well done Ryan.
“Belief, ambition, community” are the words inscribed on the Connacht U13 gold medals and the Sligo team certainly reflected that ethos throughout their season. It has been 11years since Sligo brought home the Connacht U13 Cup, but they did so with style, overcoming a 7point deficit to win by 3points against Athlone outfit Buccaneers.
Sligo were considered the underdogs, given that Buccaneers had already had a clean sweep in the non-competitive Connacht league, but it was the favourites who found themselves at the wrong end of a disciplined and decisive performance by Sligo RFC.
The first half was dominated by Sligo, who showed flair and determination, but failed to puncture the Buccaneer defence. The scoreboard read 0-0 at halftime, and both teams had everything to play for, but Sligo now found themselves playing into a strong headwind.
Buccaneers made the most of this advantage, breaching the Sligo defence halfway through the second half to clock up the opening score of the game. A well-worked break resulted in a try under the posts and the conversion gave Buccaneers a 7-0 lead.
The large travelling support gave the Sligo lads the impetus they needed, and their heads never went down. Jack McDaniel made a powerful break from the halfway line and was eventually chased down, preventing a certain try. Sligo had their tails up at this stage and were finally rewarded when first centre Ronan O Connor broke from his own 22 to cross the try line and bring Sligo within 2points. Captain Mark Tempany’s conversion lost the battle with the wind and drifted wide.
Buccaneers rallied again, but it was Sligo who were proving the more disciplined and determined in their play, epitomised by the David versus Goliath moment, when Clyde Regan, perhaps the smallest player on the pitch, put in a crunching tackle against Buccaneers’ biggest player. With only 7minutes left on the clock, Sligo’s Dean Marsden broke through on the halfway line to score out wide, much to the delight of the large, travelling crowd. The difficult conversion fell short of its mark, but more importantly Sligo had a 3point lead.
The remainder of the game was played at a high tempo, with both sides threatening to cross the whitewash, but Sligo’s defensive line was disciplined and held strong. In the final play of the game, Buccaneers thought they had scored, but the referee deemed it a knock-on and his final whistle was greeted with relief and celebrations from the Sligo contingent.
This was a real battle of the packs, a game won and lost in the rucks. Sligo played honourable and disciplined rugby, having confidence in each other and in their own abilities.
Captain Mark Tempany accepted the trophy on behalf of his team, thanking the coaches and management, supporters and his players, having given it 100% on the pitch. Head Coach Ken Draper said that it was “very thrilling to see a bunch of players get such a result, that they really deserve”. Many impact players had only started playing rugby this year and it’s a credit to the coaching staff to have brought the players to where they are today. The young team had got better and better as the season progressed, putting in extra training sessions, with great commitment from the players and great support from their parents. The U13 team have players from a wide catchment area including Tubbercurry, Coola, Riverstown, Ballinafad, North Sligo, Charlestown, Ballisodare, Strandhill, Rosses Point and the greater Sligo area.
Sligo U13s: Evan O’Beirne, Cathal Hughes, Rory Johnston, Cathal Lang, Jack McDaniel, Max O’Hehir, Dean Davey, Isaac Marsden, Jack Draper, Mark Tempany (c) Cormac Mullins, Ronan O’Connor, Eamon Keane, Abhainn Savage, Clyde Regan, Joris Rooney, Evan Gormley, Ronan Tobin, Ben O’Hehir, Aodhan Shovelin, Seamus Casey, Ultan Bree, Devon Carey, Conor Marren, Thomas Nooney, Patrick Sweeney, Christian Mc Entire Coaching staff and management Ken Draper, Donal O’Connor, Niall Hughes, David Tobin and Emer Bree
Sligo RFC’s youngest 15 a side team were convincing winners over Ballina in a thrilling cup semi final contest in Hamilton Park on Saturday.
The Sligo boys started strongly receiving the kick off and retaining the ball well in the early phases with openside flanker Dean Davey soon breaking free to cross for the first score. Out Half Mark Tempany stepped up to slot the conversion adding the points.
Sligo continued to apply the pressure with some strong ball carries by their forwards , good interplay and swift passing by their backs seeing winger Abhainn Savage get over in the corner.
Ballina came back strongly with some excellent play stretching the Sligo cover and getting in for a well worked try just before half time.
After the break the visitors came back strongly and closed on Sligo with another good try narrowing the score board to 12 – 10.
A well organised Sligo were soon back in control with structured play and rampaging runs by their forwards leading to another good try when Issac Marsden made the line.
The local boys continued to apply the pressure and soon got the ball wide to release pacey Savage again for an impressive run down the right and finished under the posts. Again, Mark Tempany was on target for the conversion.
Ballina fought back well and pinned Sligo in their half with some good tactical kicking and open play stretching the Sligo defence. This yielded a fine try in the closing minutes however as the whistle blew it was Sligo’s day with the scoreboard showing a 24 – 12 victory for the home team.
Sligo meet Buccaneers RFC, Athlone in the final to be played in The Sports Ground in Galway on Apri 14th.