Sligo 38 :: Creggs 5
Sligo gave a very impressive display when they scored a clear-cut victory over Creggs in the Connacht U-13 Cup final in the Galway Sportsgrounds on Sunday last. Both sides entered this game following outstanding semi-final performances, with Creggs causing a major surprise when they defeated Galwegians, while Sligo showed their quality with a 19-0 win over Buccaneers.
Creggs had the benefit of the strong breeze in the opening half, but it was Sligo who dominated the exchanges, as they camped in the losers’ territory for long periods. The Sligo pack dominated, so their backs received a plentiful supply of quality ball. The star of the pack was undoubtedly second row, Diarmuid O’Dowd-Hill, who gave a ‘man of the match’ display in the second row. His line-out work and ball carrying were exceptional, and he capped a superb performance by scoring two tries.
Sligo were in control in the mauls, rucks and scrums, with the Davey twins, Matthew and Martin, the team’s joint captains, playing starring roles, while No.8, Sean Donnolly was also exceptional, and was a notable ball carrier. Elsewhere in the pack, prop, Philip Moriarity, second row, Jonathan Draper, and wing forwards, Ben Spellman and Robert Smith made valuable contributions to their side’s victory.
Behind the scrum, Sligo also held all the aces. Half backs, Enda Gavin and Michael Martin were an excellent partnership. Scrum-half, Gavin, gave a very consistent service to his partner, and also made some telling breaks. Out-half Martin’s timing of his passing was first class, and he got his line moving very smoothly. Full-back, Jason McGoldrick gave an accomplished display in the absence of the regular incumbent, Kieran Blake, who missed the final because of a hand injury. His tackling and goal-kicking were top class. Centres, Will Weaver and Owen Flanagan, impressed, and they used their innate footballing skills to create a lot of space for their backline colleagues. Both wingers, James Mullen and Enda Roche starred, and each scored a try. Mullen showed plenty of pace and power, and Creggs found it difficult to defend against his surging runs. Right winer, Roche is a very skillful player, and took his try expertly.
Sligo scored an opportunist try after 5 minutes. Full-back, Jason McGoldrick’s penalty drifted wide, but did not cross the dead ball line, and the alert, Michael Martin reacted quicker than the Creggs defenders, and touched down to give his side a 5-0 lead. After 10 minutes they led by 12-0. Following a tapped penalty by scrum-half, Enda Gavin, second row, Diarmuid O’Dowd-Hill powered through the defence and touched down, and full-back, Jason McGoldrick converted. In the 23rd minute, the lead was extended to 17-0, when they scored the best try of the game. Again, O’Dowd-Hill made the hard yards, and linked with centre, Will Weaver, who timed his pass perfectly to winger, Enda Roche on the ’22’. The winger skipped past two attempted tackles and scored in the corner.
In first half injury time, O’Dowd-Hill again carried the ball into the ’22’, and following the ruck, scrum-half, Enda Gavin outfoxed the cover by breaking himself, and scoring at the posts, with McGoldrick converting to put Sligo ahead by 24-0 at the interval.
Diarmuid O’Dowd-Hill was again in action when he crashed over for his side’s fifth try 6 minutes after the restart, with McGoldrick again adding the points. The winners final try was scored by flying winger, James Mullen, with McGoldrick again landing the difficult conversion, to put them 38-0 ahead.
To their credit Creggs fought bravely to the end, and were rewarded with a try close to the final whistle. In the second period, Sligo introduced Gary O’Daly, Martin Clarke, Ross Gordan, Owen Kilroy, David Verdon and Brian Simon as substitutes, and all gave a good account of themselves.
The excellent referee was Sinead Cosgrove, who made history as she is the first lady ever to referee a Connacht Cup final in the Sportsgrounds.
Sligo:Jason McGoldrick, Enda Roche, Will Weaver, Owen Flanagan, James Mullen, Michael Martin, Enda Gavin, Philip Mpriarity, Martin Davey [Joint Capt.], Matthew Davey [Joint Capt.], Diarmuid O’Dowd-Hill, Jonathan Draper, Ben Spellman, Sean Donnolly, Robert Smith.
Subs. [Used]Gary O’Daly, Martin Clarke, Ross Gordan, Owen Kilroy, David Verdon, Brian Simon. [Other Panel Members]:Brian Casey, Barry Brennan, Jack Kennedy, Ciaran Blake [inj.], James Rooney [inj.].
Photos from the game can be found here.