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.
The replay of the Division 2 League Final took place in Ballina RFC last Sunday. The first encounter between these two teams had been memorable. The large crowd were treated to an 8 try spectacle, with a 26-26 draw ensuring both teams would get another shot at the title.
The replay was once again a very close encounter. Westport lead 10-8 at the break thanks to a penalty and intercept try against the run of play. Sligo’s points came from a Cathal Feely penalty and a try by Josh Young.
Following the break Sligo took the lead when Callum Wall drove over from a well-worked maul. Westport however, came back strongly to take the lead with a converted try under the posts and then extended this lead out to 22-15 with a well-worked try in the corner with less than 10 mins to go. Led by captain Patrick Dixon, this Sligo U17 side have developed a great team spirit through this season and were not finished yet. U16 player Liam Candon, who had given a storming performance throughout, touched down out wide, following a period of sustained pressure, but unfortunately Cathal Feely’s conversion fell short of the mark. This proved to be the last kick of the game and a mere two points gave the league title to Westport.
Next Sunday sees Sligo play the Connacht U17 Cup semi-final against Buccaneers in Hamilton Park at 12 noon.
Sligo: P Padowski, C Wall, E Coyle, P Dixon (c), A Young, L Candon, J Mc Niffe, D Brennan, M O Hehir, C Feely, C Mc Meekin, B Reynolds, L Scott, F Young, J Carr, J Young, M Moroney, A Hunter, S Muldoon
There was blood, sweat and many tears in Hamilton Park last Saturday, as an epic battle took place between two incredible teams in the Connacht U18.5 Cup semi-final. After their comprehensive 28-14 win over Corinthians, deemed to be one of the hot favourites, Adrian Mc Hale and his team were under no illusion about what lay ahead for them playing a Ballinasloe team, who were still on a high after the Garbally senior Cup win.
The weather certainly played its part, with little or no wind and expectations were high among the large crowd. Sligo started at a furious pace and it was captain Donnacha Byrne who opened the scoring for the home side, with Hubert Gilvarry adding the extras. Ballinasloe replied by piling on the pressure from the restart and opening their scoring with an easy penalty in front of the posts. This was quickly followed by another penalty to put a mere point between the sides. Sligo upped the tempo of the game and dominated for another 10 minutes. A Hubert Gilvarry try was disallowed for an adjudged knock-on, but the strong Sligo maul, set up Will Whelan to spin off and speed through to score Sligo’s second try. Gilvarry added the 2 points from a difficult angle and Sligo went 5 points up, with 10 minutes left in the first half. The home side had their tails up and they continued to play with a new-found intensity, securing ruck ball and going through the phases. Out half Hubert Gilvarry was alert to every half chance and when the Ballinasloe defence stepped off the side of a ruck, pre-empting the attack from the pack, Gilvarry deftly nipped through the gap and dived over the line to add to his side’s tally. He converted his own try from in front of the posts to bring the score to 21-9 at the half way mark, which is 35 minutes in U18.5 rugby.
The second half was a bruising affair, with big tackles going in on both sides. The fluid rugby played by the two teams, was a testament to the clubs and their coaching staff and a glimpse of the future of Connacht rugby. Ballinasloe continued to battle, and possession changed hands several times. Sligo chose to run the ball out of defence each time and they eventually broke through for their 4th try, when Thomas Fox showed his pace to race down the touchline and score in the corner. Gilvarry’s conversion curled to the right of the posts to put the score at 26-9, with only 15 minutes left on the clock.
The hectic pace of the game continued, and Ballinasloe turned the screws on the Sligo defence. The visitors kept their heads, pressing the home side, and eventually broke through the Sligo defence to score their opening try. The conversion was good and there was now only 10 points between the teams, with 60 minutes gone on the clock. Two yellow cards were issued in quick succession against the home side and the numerical advantage paid off for the visitors, clocking up another converted try to put a mere 3 points between the teams with only 5 minutes plus injury time left to play.
Sligo’s restarts had been textbook throughout the game, with Gilvarry adjudging his kicks to perfection and Luke Hogge timing his chase with inch precision, to leap highest and secure the ball in the air for his side. However, the visitors had grown wise to this tactic and Hogge’s chase was brutally stopped by a cynical block in front of the Ballinasloe dugout. The referee awarded a penalty, but again the visitors escaped being issued a yellow card. Gilvarry added another 3points to his side’s tally to stretch the lead to 6 points.
The 13 man Sligo, continued to play their hearts out, laying their bodies on the line. Ballinasloe piled on the pressure searching for the winning score but, the game was now over 5 minutes into injury time. Sligo were penalised again, and the visitors closed the gap to 3 points. The clock continued to run, and it did not seem possible that there could be another twist in this game, however, a sweeping move through the pacey Ballinasloe backs brought the ball out on the wing and the visitors dived over in the corner to put them 2 points up. Sligo were returned to full strength and the final whistle still had not been sounded. One last attack by the home side was on the cards, but the ball was slowed down by the opposition and Sligo were unable to win the penalty, which could have sent them into the final. With an unbelievable 12 minutes injury time on the clock, the referee eventually sounded the final whistle, breaking the hearts of the Sligo team.
This was an incredible match, played at pace throughout, with the Sligo lads showing great strength, tenacity and teamwork. They displayed an epic work rate for all 82 minutes of the game, with a high level of fitness very apparent, due to all their hard work and training up and down Knocknarea. Great credit must go to Head Coach Adrian McHale, Manager Roger Burrows and Specialist Advisors Ross Mannion, James Wilson and Gavin Foley for their dedication throughout the season. A special thanks to the U18.5s’ parents for all their help and support.
After the first quarter-final battle ended up 19-19, Sligo were hoping to make the most of home advantage to topple local rivals Ballina, who were hot favourites to win the Connacht U16 Cup.
There was a sizeable home crowd in attendance and the atmosphere was charged, typical of a cup tie. The game started at a fast pace and the home wise were quick to settle, putting pressure on Ballina and maintaining possession. However, it was the visitors who were first to break the deadlock. A sweeping move by Sligo, with the ball being moved wide through the hands, was intercepted by the pacey Ballina fullback and he punched through the Sligo defence to touch down to the left of the posts. The out half added the extras to bring the score to 0-7.
Sligo regained possession from the restart and piled on the pressure. The forwards did a great job of picking and driving their way up the pitch, going through the phases and pulling the Ballina defence out of position. A strong drive from the back of a ruck, supported by the pack, eventually drove Ewan Ripon over the line for a well-deserved 5points. Out half Oisin Cregg had a difficult kick to level the game, but he judged it to perfection, kicking into the wind and curling the ball inside the upright. Sligo continued to control the game for the remaining 8 minutes of the half. Persistent infringements by the visitors eventually led to a penalty in front of the posts and Cregg assuredly slotted the ball home to bring the score to 10-7 on the half-time whistle.
The second half was a dogged affair with Sligo dominating in the line-out and having the lion’s share of possession. The greasy conditions led to a lot of handling errors on both sides, but it was the home side who continued to press, looking for the next score. A Cregg penalty was well struck from quite a distance but didn’t have the legs and the margin between the two sides remained a mere three points. Sligo once again applied pressure from the restart, but it was Ballina who made the breakthrough, when they pounced on a loose ball and kicked through the Sligo defence. A chase ensued, and the Ballina centre picked it up and sped through to score a try. The conversion brought the score to 10-14, with only minutes left on the clock. The Sligo lads kept their heads and kept fighting for the ball. They regained possession and pushed for the line. Repeated infringements by the opposition resulted in a string of penalties for the home side, bringing them within metres of the line each time, however only a try would suffice, and the clock was against them. Sligo kept the pressure on, but Ballina eventually won the ball back and kicked it to touch to end the game and put themselves into the Cup semi-final against Corinthians.
It was heartbreak for the Sligo lads, who put in a huge effort, giving 100% right until the final whistle. Great credit must go to all the players for their dedication throughout the season and a huge thanks to the coaching team of Hagan Mc Quaid, Michael O’Hehir, Wesley Maxwell and John Garvey, as well as all the parents for their support during the year.
Nearly forty U17s have been training all season, the highest number ever, and this has enabled the club to enter teams in both U17 divisions. The Division 2 team finished 3rd in the league, beating Connemara in the semi-final to earn their place in the Connacht final against league leaders Westport. This final on 10th February, ended in a 26-26 draw and will now be replayed on Sunday, 24th March. Best of luck to all the lads.
Sligo take on Ballinasloe RFC next Saturday at 11:30am in Hamilton Park. The home side had a comprehensive 28-14 win against Corinthians in their quarter-final and Ballinasloe also had a comfortable 10-25 win against Ballina.
This is a huge game for the U18.5s, all support would be greatly appreciated.
Sligo U13s had a comprehensive 36 point victory over Claremorris RFC last Saturday in Hamilton Park. This was their first competitive game of the season, as the aim of the U13 league is to encourage players to learn and enjoy the game. It was the visitors who started the stronger, scoring in the opening 5minutes, but the home side were quick to even the scoring. Sligo then settled into the game and proved too strong for Claremorris, running in a further 6 tries. Sligo were the bigger pack and they were well-drilled and disciplined in their defence. They showed great determination and inter-linking play throughout the game.
Sligo will now play the Cup semi-final against either Loughrea or Ballina on March 30th.
After a disappointing league campaign, 5th placed Sligo were drawn against 2nd placed Corinthians in the Connacht U18.5 Cup and they were under no illusions as to the mountain of a task that lay ahead. A sizeable home crowd had gathered in anticipation of a cracker of a cup game and they were not disappointed. It was the home team who started the stronger and enjoyed a considerable period of dominance over a frustrated Corinthians side. Sligo were the first on the scoreboard with two successive penalties from the trusty boot of out half Hubert Gilvarry. This was followed by a spirit comeback from the visitors, but they were unable to penetrate the solid Sligo defence. A Luke Hogge try added another 5points to the home side on the half time whistle.
The second half saw a Corinthian’s resurgence, applying pressure in the Sligo 22. They were eventually rewarded for their efforts and brought the score to 11-7. Sligo immediately rallied, and the pack worked the ball down the pitch, with Donnacha Byrne crossing the line in the corner to stretch the lead to 9points. Possession changed hands over the next ten minutes, but it was Corinthians who made the next break through down the Sligo touch line to score in the corner and slot home a difficult conversion to bring the score to 16-14. This narrow margin seemed to spur the Sligo lads on and an impressive maul, off a lineout on the 10m line, drove Matthew Early over the try line, with only 10 minutes left on the clock. Sligo sealed the deal with a sweeping move off a lineout on the halfway line. The ball was worked wide through the hands and across the pitch for Will Whelan to speed up the wing and touch down in the corner.
This was an impressive game by the Sligo side and all focus is now on the semi-final of the Cup on 24th March against Ballinasloe.
Sligo: 1 Matthew Harte 2 Matthew Earley 3 Cullen Vega 4 Anderson 5 Cummings 6 Will Whelan 7 Adam West 8 Donnacha Byrne 9 Andrew Ward 10 Hubert Gilvarry 11 Brennan 12 Whelan 13 Ronan McGoldrick 14 Higgins, 15 Luke Hogge16 Darragh Mc Elhinney 17 Thomas Fox 18 Matthew Horan 19 Niall Stokes 20 Staunton
Sligo U16s travelled to Ballina RFC last Saturday for the hotly anticipated Connacht Cup quarter final and local derby. Ballina U16s took to the field full of confidence after a great year of results, having only lost a single game all year and having had comprehensive victories over Sligo both home and away. However, this was cup rugby and the script was promptly thrown out the window, as the weather played its part in upsetting the favourites.
From the first whistle the home side quickly showed their dominance and put 7points on the board. However, Sligo kept their heads and patiently worked their way up the field to score under the posts and level the scores. Both sides tried to gain the upper hand with the Ballina scrum having the upper hand and the Sligo lineout having more success.
Ballina made the most of the wind behind their backs and proceeded to put another converted try between the two sides. The visitors again kept a level head and soon after crossed the whitewash to level it. Possession continued to change hands and both sides were battling the elements, as well as each other. Again, it was the home side that put another try on the score board, but the strong wind pushed it wide of the posts and the difference between the teams was 5points. With the clock ticking by, Sligo knew they had to make one last determined push for the Ballina line. The strong Sligo pack set up a maul and drove for the line, the Sligo scrum half broke down the blind side and touched down in the corner to even the scores. The difficult conversion drifted wide, much to the relief of the home crowd. This was a hugely entertaining game and the quarter final replay will now be played in Hamilton Park on
Sligo: Adam Fox, Adam Hunter, Ben Garvey, Brady Lynch, Ciaran Cawley, Ciaran Dolan, Conal Kennedy, Cormac Fahey, Conor Mullaney, Dara Foy, Eoin Ryan, Evin Ballantine, Ewan Ripon, Fionn Feeley, Fionn O’Hehir, Jim Sweeney, Kian Reynolds, Leo Layden, Liam Candon, Niall O’Connor, Oisin Cregg, Oisin Diffley, Olan Martin, Ronan Gray, Sean Gilvarry, Sonny Muldoon, Eoghan Lang, Hugo Filan.