Sligo 15 :: Galwegians 18
Sligo’s U-18 side suffered a heartbreaking defeat to Galwegians in the replayed Connacht Cup quarter final at Crowley Park, Galway on Friday last.
The winning try came in the 8th minute of second half injury time, and this score marked the first occasion in the entire game in which the Galway city side held the lead.
Sligo played some brilliant rugby in the opening half, and were not flattered by their 15-3 interval lead. In that period, their forwards won their share of possession, while the backs had too much pace and guile for their opponents. As in the drawn game, Cathal Sheridan gave a man of the match display. Playing in his favourite scrum-half position on this occasion, he gave an outstanding performance, as in addition to providing a quality service to his half back partner, Keelan Cawley, his tackling around the fringes and his box-kicking were excellent.
At out-half, Keelan Cawley, who missed the drawn game, was very impressive, and is clearly a player with a bright future in the game. His line kicking was very good, and he also did well in spreading the ball. Sligo had a distinctive advantage in the backs, but this was nullified in the second period, when Galwegians took the game to Sligo up front, and adopted a ‘stick it up the jumper’ approach.
Sligo kicked off and led from the 2nd minute. When the Sligo pack poured into a ruck, the home side were penalised for handling, and Cawley expertly slotted the 37 metre penalty. Five minutes later, Sligo scored a brilliant try. Galwegians attacked down the left, inside the Sligo ’22’, but knocked on. With advantage being played, Sligo’s right winger, Ben Perceval picked up. Although surrounded by opponents, he created space by evading two tacklers, and then set off on an 80 metre sprint, dodging two further attempted tackles, and touched down at the corner flag. Although Cawley failed to add the points from the very difficult conversion, Sligo now led by 8-0.
Soon afterwards, Galwegians reduced the deficit with a penalty, while Sheridan was just short with an ambitious effort from halfway. After 22 minutes, Sligo scored another top class try. Following a ruck 30 metres out, the ball was moved wide, and a superb break from 16 year old, Rory Kerins was only halted by a last ditch tackle, but the supporting Cathal Sheridan was on hand to pick up and score under the posts. Keelan Cawley converted to stretch the lead to 15-3.
In the second period, Galwegians opted to keep the game tight, but the Sligo defence was heroic. Despite continuous pressure, with play costantly in the Sligo half, the home side could not make a breakthrough. With just 15 minutes remaining,and the score still at 15-3, it looked as if it might be Sligo’s day. However, with 13 minutes left, Galwegians eventually mauled over for a try to bring the score to 15-8. From the restart, Sligo were awarded a penalty 50 metres out, but Sheridan’s fine effort drifted just wide.
With just three minutes of normal time remaining, prop, Richard Henry was sin-binned for collapsing a maul, and following the resultant penalty to the corner, Galwegians mauled over for another try. Sligo were now forced to defend desperately, and they did so magnificently. The referee saw fit to play 8 minutes of injury time,and with the visiting supporters pleading for the final whistle, Galwegians launched one final attack. After the maul was held up, they moved the ball wide, and with the defence sucked into the maul, the ball was grounded at the corner flag for the winning score. The missed conversion was the last action of the day.
In the end the superior strength of the Galwegians pack proved to be decisive. The entire Sligo team played with tremendous spirit, and the squad and management can be justifiably proud of a gallant performance.
Sligo: Brendan Glynn, Ben Percival, Cian McCann, Rory Kerins, Stuart O’Brien, Keelan Cawley, Cathal Sheridan [c.], Richard Henry, Craig Cooper, Philip Allen, Cian Gallagher, Eamonn Keane, Peter Ryder, Ross Lucey, Daniel Bergin.