Sligo RFC 16 – Corinthians RFC 5
Sligo Development Squad faced Corinthians in Strandhill for what will probably be seen as the League Cup Final this season. After days of heavy rain the prospect of any game of rugby going ahead was slim. Coach Pearson believed it was critical to play this game at home so a group of Sligo RFC members went out early on Sunday morning to do some work on the pitch to ensure the game could go ahead removing excess water, scattering sand where necessary and with no rain that morning the referee gave the go ahead.
The game kicked off at 2.30 after the pitch had been bathed in some much needed sunshine for the previous hour though this was not forecast to continue and a deterioration in weather was probably required given Corinthians would try to power run the ball wide.
Sligo kicked off but gave away an early penalty which much to the delight of a very large home crowd was missed. Sligo were first to score with a penalty from Enda Gavin, 14 minutes into the game, Sligo ahead 3-0. Sligo’s powerful pack were already showing how they have developed a name for themselves in this league as they began to boss a surprised Corinthian pack at every set piece. The Sligo front row of Thomas Gormley, Ross O’Boyle and Craig Adams were to the fore of all such encounters.
Against the run of play Corinthians after some fine handling and a testing kick into the corner scored a try by their quick thinking winger but missed the conversion leaving the score 5-3 to Corinthians. Sligo now quick to respond urged on by Captain McMorrow moved up the field and camped on the Corinthians try line which was eventually breached after a number of pick and drives that involved David Bergin, David Cawley, James O’Hehir, finishing with the power house Matt Davey going over for a well earned try which was converted by Enda Gavin leaving the score at half time 10-5 to Sligo.
Sligo began the second half knowing that this win could lead them on to a final championship game next week and so the battle continued with all players giving everything. Coach Pearson used the subs bench to his advantage making numerous changes bringing on Arron Tansey, Gary Conneely, Jake Sexton, Stuart O’Brien and Carl VansRenburg as rolling subs are now allowed in this league.
The strength of this team is most evident in the quality of the bench. The Sligo back line was immense marshalled by Gary O’Hehir, supported by Enda Gavin, Sean Mullin, Clive Morris, Matt Kavanagh and the Peter Pan of the team Gavin Foley. Full back Graham Kerr showed why he will be a force to be reckoned with in seasons to come making some incisive counter attacks.
Corinthians sensing a challenge with time running out attemted to move the ball wide with more urgency but unfortunately not only had they met a resilient Sligo outfit but also the weather gods were now against them and as planned a heavy shower swept across the pitch. Corinthians now rushing and under pressure mistakes were coming and Sligo were awarded a further penalty for offside which Enda Gavin duly converted 13-5 to Sligo. Corinthians rallied again but were unable to cross the Sligo line and the last 10 minutes were spent in the Corinthians half who finally gave away another penalty allowing the sure footed Enda Gavin to score leaving the final result 16-5, Sligo win.
This was an immense victory especially as The Corinthian team had a number of Connacht Academy Players present but despite their pedigree they were unable to score anything in the second half. Coach Paddy Pearson and Burrows praised all Sligo players for their courageous efforts, and identified everyone of them as ‘a Man of the Match’. As always the cautious Pearson reminded all present that there was still one match left in order to gain the title of League Champions and said ‘enjoy the moment but we must focus from Monday on the game next Sunday in Strandhill v Lougrea 2.30pm otherwise all this will have been for nothing. Next weekend History beckons this exceptional squad of players.
Team: Thomas Gormley, Ross O’Boyle, Craig Adams, Michael McMorrow (Captain), David Bergin, David Cawley, Matt Davey, Aaron Tansey, Carl VanRensburg, Jake Sexton, Gary Conneely, James O’Hehir, Gary O’Hehir, Enda Gavin, Stuart O’Brien, Clive Morris, Sean Mullin, Matt Kavanagh, Graham Kerr, Gavin Foley.