Sligo 10 :: Galwegians 10
Sligo and Galwegians must meet again in the Connacht U-18 Cup, after the teams played out a thrilling draw in last Sunday’s quarter final in Hamilton Park. This was a typical cup tie, played with tremendous commitment, but in a very sporting manner by both sides.
Although Sligo had to line out without Jason East [on Ireland Youths training duties], out-half, Keelan Cawley [unavailable], and U-16 players, Rory Kerins and Tadgh Power, their re-arranged side took the game to Galwegians in the first half, and they led by 10-0 at the interval. After an uncertain start, they dominated proceedings, with their captain, Cathal Sheridan, giving an inspirational performance at out-half.
In Cawley’s absence, Sheridan moved from his customary scrum-half berth to the No.10 position, and he emerged as the game’s outstanding player. His distribution, first up tackling, and line-kicking were all of the highest standard, while his option taking was also exceptional. His half-back partner, Ben Percival, who switched from his usual wing position, also played impressively.
Sligo’s backs defended very well, with centres, Stuart O’Brien and Cian McCann proving to be very reliable, while wingers, Michael Brennan and Jonathan Higgins, who were brought into the side, also impressed. Brendan Glynn was very reliable at full-back.
Galwegians game plan was clearly based on attempting to gain dominance through their physically imposing pack. To their credit, Sligo’s pack met fire with fire,and apart from the third quarter, they matched their opponents in all facets of forward play. The front row of Richard Henry, Craig Cooper and Philip Allen, conceded nothing, with both props carrying well in the loose, while hooker, Cooper was again very accurate with his throwing. In the second row, Eamonn Keane and Cian Gallagher did well in the line-outs and disrupted some Galwegian throws. Ralph Lucey proved to be a powerhouse at No.8, and he was well supported by his backrow colleagues, David Bergin and Peter Ryder.
Sligo took the lead when Sheridan converted a 35 metre penalty after 12 minutes. In the 24th minute, following good play from Cathal Sheridan and Stuart O’Brien, Ralph Lucey gained possession and almost the entire visitors’ pack could not prevent him barging over the line. Sheridan’s conversion from the right touch-line was superb to give his side a 10-0 lead. Galwegians dominated territorially in the third quarter, scoring a converted try after 10 minutes, and the equalising penalty with 15 minutes remaining. However, Sligo finished the stroger side, as they camped in their opponents’ half for the remainder of the game. Sheridan was just off target wih a drop goal attempt, while in the last minute, referee, Robbie Carson [Castlebar] awarded Sligo a penalty 35 metres out, and close to the touchline, but Sheridan’s fine effort drifted agonisingly wide.
Sligo must now travel to Glenina for the replay, and with a full squad available, will be optimistic of achieving victory.
Sligo: B.Glynn, M.Brennan, C.McCann, S.O’Brien, J.Higgins, C.Sheridan [c.], B.Percival, R.Henry, C.Cooper, P.Allen, E.Keane, C.Gallagher, P.Ryder, R.Lucey, D.Bergin.
A selection of photos from the game can be found here.