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.
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.
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.
Last Saturday saw the end of a rugby era for two Sligo players as they played their final home game in Hamilton Park.
Conor Mitchell, prolific front-rower and adopted Sligo man captained the Club in 2015 and returned to the role last Saturday to lead the team out against Sunday’s Well.
Conor will hang up his AIL boots at the end of the season, having played over 100 games for Sligo RFC over the last 7 years.
As a player, he always made his presence felt and he will be missed, both on and off the pitch. Mataele Fifita came to Sligo from Tonga 10years ago. He fell in love with both Sligo and a local girl, and the rest is history.
Sligo RFC would like to thank Conor and Mata for their commitment to the Club and wish them the very best in the future.
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.
The ‘Give Reffin a Try’ information night will take place on Monday 29th April at 7.30 pm in Sligo RFC clubhouse. This event will be of interest to anyone who would like to get involved in refereeing the game.IRFU Referee Development & Education Manager Peter Fitzgibbon will give a presentation on the many facets of his role, including
- How the referee system works in Connacht and beyond
- What pathways, supports and benefits are available to those that do get involved
- How to sign up
- Q & A session
Members of the ARCB will be in attendance to give an insight in to their experiences as a referee, and we will give everyone a chance to ‘be the referee’ with some interactive work.
Referees have one of the toughest jobs in sport. It is important to remember that the referees are under pressure during the game too, not just the players and we all agree on how much respect referees deserve from everyone who is a part of the rugby family.
As a club, Sligo RFC must also play its part in encouraging and training referees.
The Sligo All-Ireland League Division 2B team currently lie in 4th place in the league, 6 points behind Rainey Old Boys and 7 points ahead of Wanderers in 5th. The team travel to 8th placed Dungannon RFC on Saturday 6th April and are hoping for a repeat of their 33-25 win from last October. Sligo need one final win to confirm their 4th place playoff spot and challenge for promotion to Division 2A.
Sligo Gulls 10 – Carrick-on-Shannon 23
Hamilton Park played host to the quarter-final of the Ard na Cregg Cup last Saturday afternoon, when the Sligo Gulls, the third senior team in Sligo RFC took on J2 League Winners Carrick-on-Shannon. The visitors were the hot favourites to win through to the semi-final and Sligo’s odds had lengthened even more with the news that several influential players were unavailable for selection due to absence and injury.
The home side took the lead after 10minutes, when fullback Eoin Mc Cormack slotted home a well-struck penalty. Carrick piled on the pressure and responded with an equalising penalty 3minutes later. The Gulls’ defence continued to be tested and strong running from the visitors resulted in two tries and a conversion to bring the score to 3-15 at half-time.
The Gulls came out fighting in the second half and gave a great display of solid rugby, with the pack securing possession and setting up the backline for some determined running. Carrick found themselves on the backfoot for the opening 20minutes and the pressure led to a succession of penalties. Sligo opted to run the ball each time, exerting even more pressure on the visitors and a yellow card was eventually issued for persistent offences. The vocal home crowd did their best to get their team over the line, but a solid Carrick defence refused to crack, and some impressive clearance kicks finally relieved the pressure and brought the play into the Sligo 22. The home side were caught offside and Carrick added another 3points from a penalty in front of posts.
The Gulls were dominant from the restart and once again piled on the pressure. Darragh Mc Elhinney controlled the pace of the game, with quick ball from the back of the ruck. Strong ball-carrying from Niall Cawley, Dermot Kiely and Gary Golden tested the Carrick defence and Sligo’s determination and never-say-die attitude was eventually rewarded when Jamie Gerrity crashed over for a well-deserved try, much to the delight of the now-raucous home supporters. Eoin McCormack added the extras to put 8points between the sides, with only 5minutes left on the clock.
Pressure from the restart, resulted in a penalty for Carrick and having been dominant in the lineout throughout the game, they kicked for touch. A strong maul from the big Carrick pack, set up a ruck on the Sligo 5m line and the pack picked the ball and drove over the line for the final score of the game.
This may have been the Gulls’ final game of the season but it marks the start of a new era in senior rugby for Sligo RFC. It has been 35years since the Club last fielded three senior competitive teams. Great credit must go to coaches Podge Johnson and Clive Morris, as well as team manager Declan Lynch. Nearly 30 players were part of the Gulls’ squad this year, a mixture of young players who have come up though the youths’ system, complete novices to the game and many experienced players, with a real love for rugby. Jamie Gerrity finished the season as top try scorer (6 tries) with David Cummins coming in second (4tries). Well done to all involved.
Sligo Gulls: Christophe Perrott, Andreas Probst (c) James Tansey, Michael Healy, Niall Cawley, Jordan Sexton, Peter Walpole, Gary Golden, Mark Harte, Darren Harte, Jean De Rouge, Sean McVeigh, David Cummins, Callum McLoughlin, Eoin McCormack, Andrew Kerr, Dermot Kiely, Thomas McBride, Vincent Reynolds, Podge Johnson
The final home game of the season takes place on Saturday 13th April, when Sligo play Sunday’s Well at 2.30p.m. The club will host a pre-match lunch at 1p.m., open to all members and friends of Sligo RFC. The two-course lunch from The Glasshouse, includes a complimentary glass of wine and entry to the match at the cost of €20 per person. Advance booking is essential, as places are limited. To book your place, text Des on 086 246 9829 before 8pm Wednesday 10th April.
Two Sligo players are in the running for Connacht Rugby Awards on April 13th.
Scrum half Ryan Feehily has been nominated for the Connacht Senior Club Player of the Year. Ryan is an integral part of the All-Ireland League Division 2B team. He is joint captain, along with Shane O’Hehir and is the current top scorer for the season, with a total of 9 tries.
Donnacha Byrne has been nominated for the Connacht U18 Player of the Year. Captain of the U18.5 Club team and the Summerhill College senior team, Donnacha has also played for Connacht U18s and U19s and is currently training with the Ireland U18 Clubs & Schools, having earned his first Irish Cap against Italy in November.