J2A: Gulls Stay Top of the Table

Sligo Gulls 26 – NUIG 12

The Gulls remain at the top of the Connacht J2A league after a comprehensive win against NUIG on another glorious day in Hamilton Park. Boasting a panel of twenty-six players, the home side were fired up for the match and exerted pressure on NUIG in every area of the pitch, showing dominance in the pack and having several try-scoring opportunities through expansive use of the back line. The visitors’ defence held strong until the 32nd minute when David Cummins scored in the corner. Full back Oisin Cox scored the difficult conversion to put the Gulls 7-0 up. NUIG enjoyed a period of possession from the restart and only 6 minutes later, were rewarded with a try under the posts to level the game at half time.

The first twenty minutes of the second half was a different affair, with both sides threatening to go over the whitewash on several occasions, but it was NUIG who got the opportunity to nose ahead when Michael McMorrow was penalised for using a squeezeball which, according to the referee, is not allowed under the U19 variation laws under which J2A games are played. However, the NUIG kicker hooked the ball wide and the two sides remained deadlocked at 7-7.

Sligo brought on fresh legs from the bench and this provided the impetus necessary to earn their second try. Scrum half Stewart O’Brien spotted the gap at the side of a ruck in the opposition’s 22 and found support in the David Cummins , who put in a big drive and eventually offloaded to Michael McMorrow, who powered through for the score. Oisin Cox again added the extras to put the home side 7 points up with 15 minutes to go on the clock. The Gulls found another gear and five minutes later, after a period of sustained pressure in the pack the Sligo forwards went through the phases and the ever-alert O’Brien picked the ball and nipped in for Sligo’s third try, and Cox went three for three from the conversion to put the score at 21-7, with ten minutes left.

A comedy of errors ensued from the restart, with a big knock on going unspotted by the referee. NUIG were first to react and play the whistle and the lapse in concentration by Sligo led to the visitors’ second try in the corner, which was not converted.

Sligo secured the ball from the restart and a determined run from the Tubbercurry tornado Sean Mc Veigh on the wing, brought the play into the NUIG 22. Sligo piled on the pressure and some strong running by fullback Oisin Cox allowed the forwards to set up Dermot Kiely to drive over for Sligo’s 4th try. Cox added the extras to maintain his 100% kicking-record for the game and the game finished 28-12.

Man of the Match went to newcomer Alan Naughton, playing second row, who made his presence felt on the pitch. This win maintains the Gulls unbeaten run and cements their position at the top of the Connacht J2A table.

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