Sligo RFC Development Squad who are lying in second place of the Connacht J1b league travelled to Castlebar on Sunday needing to continue their recent good form in search of a win in order to keep them in contention of winning the league.
Unfortunately the weather was wet, the pitch heavy and the ball greasy which was not conducive to the attacking style of Sligo play .
Sligo started well putting pressure on Castlebar holding them in their own half which led to a penalty against them for an offside player giving Sligo an early opportunity to get a score on the board. The penalty was missed giving Castlebar an early let off.
From this Castlebar gained some momentum towards the end of the first half and were rewarded with a penalty which they duly converted into three points giving them the lead at half time. The first half due to the fore mentioned poor weather conditions led to a half of multiple errors, knock-ons and dropped passes. Sligo did not settle early and all the player seemed too anxious and impatient looking for a score.
The second half recommenced with Castlebar gaining further momentum and territorial advantage which eventually on 60 minutes led to a penalty advantage resulting in their sure footed full back kicking the points making the score now 6 nil to Castlebar.
The quality of the rugby did not improve overall but the Sligo back line marshalled by Gary O’Hehir and Enda Gavin made good yardage breaking the game line on numerous occasions with good support play from Sean Mullen and the old statesman Gavin Foley.
Sligo were determined to stay in the game and keep their league title hopes alive so they worked their way up the pitch with great forward play involving Matt Davey, David Cawley, Jake Sexton, James O’Hehir and the great Michael McMorrow, all breaking the game line with power plays. Sligo now in earnest looking for a score began to pressure the Castlebar try line. This resulted in a scrum to Sligo on the Castlebar 5 meter line, the Sligo pack now in the ascendency drove for the line but the scrum collapsed, making Sligo supporters wonder about the possibility for a penalty try but the scrum was reset by the referee which resulted in another collapsed scrum, the pressure was now on both the Castlebar pack and the referee for the resetting of the third scrum but due to phenomenal Sligo pressure, Matt Davey, number 8, at the back of the scrum scored the try, bringing the score 6-5 to Castlebar. Enda Gavin stepped up for the conversion kick which he struck through the posts giving Sligo the lead and the final score 7-6 to Sligo, another nail biting finish.
Coach Paddy Pearson though delighted with the win had some harsh words about the poor execution of the game plan. He awarded the Man of the Match to Matt Davey. Roger Burrows encouraged the team now to focus on the next game on Sunday 26th February in Strandhill v Ballyhaunis.
Squad: Stuart O’Brien, Clive Morris, Gavin Foley, Sean Mullin, Brian Mullen, Enda Gavin, Gary O’Hehir, Thomas Gormley, Ross O’Boyle, Aaron Tansey, David Cawley, Michael McMorrow (Captain), James O’Hehir, Matt Davey, David Bergin, Craig Adams, Karl VanRensburg, Gary Conneely, Jake Sexton, Jack Gormley.