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.
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.
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.
“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
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.
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.
This year, Sligo RFC boast an incredible 21 teams, from U7s in the Juvenile section to Division 2B of the All-Ireland League. This total includes 8 juvenile and 9 youth teams of both boys and girls, three senior teams and now an U20 team, who will compete in this year’s Connacht U20 Cup. The U20 Cup will see teams representing Ballina, Ballinrobe, Connemara, Corinthians, Creggs, Monivea/Westport and Sligo face off in a knockout series of games, with three quarter-finals before two semi-finals and a decider on the Easter weekend. Sligo U20s will play at home against local rivals Ballina in the semi-final at 1p.m. on 7th 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.
Sligo 20 – Westport 22
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
Sligo 29 – Ballinasloe 31
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.