Sligo Development Team 11 – Creggs 7
Such was the passion shown on the second pitch in Hamilton Park, that you could be forgiven for assuming that it was a cup final between Sligo and Creggs RFC and not a standard league game. For the Sligo Development team, this was a fight for survival in the J1A league, as only a win would suffice. Second placed Creggs RFC, have been in impressive form all season and contest the Connacht Junior Cup final in two weeks’ time. The last time these two sides met, it was the visitors who had an emphatic 32-12 over Sligo, so there was no doubt that the home side had a huge battle on their hands.
From the first whistle, it was apparent that Sligo would be leaving nothing on the pitch. First blood went to the home side, when Sean Mullin punched through the Creggs’ defence at speed and touched down to the right of the posts. The visitors upped the pressure, but the Sligo defence stayed strong and it was Enda Gavin’s penalty that stretched the lead for Sligo, much to the delight of the large home crowd. Just before half time, Creggs went through the phases and worked the ball out wide. A perfectly-timed ankle tap, by full back Donal Brady, seemed to have prevented a certain try, but the offload found its target and the big Creggs second row crossed the line to touch down under the posts and the subsequent conversion brought the score to 8-7.
A nerve-wracking second half saw the home side stretch their lead to a mere 4 points, but they were under pressure to clear their lines and Creggs threatened to end the cup atmosphere on the side line. However, a resolute Sligo defence never cracked and their dominance in both the scrum and lineout allowed them to retain possession, go through the phases and run the clock down. The final whistle was met with joyous scenes both on and off the pitch, as the Sligo Development team avoided the relegation playoffs and finished the season in 5th place.
The next outing for the Development team is in Hamilton Park next Sunday, 10th March, when they take on Ballinrobe in the semi final of the Junior Plate.