The Sligo RFC Development Squad travelled to Galway Corinthians for a replay of the Junior Cup game which had been abandoned the previous Sunday due to a heavy fog .
The day was good with no signs of any inclement weather thought the pitch was very heavy underfoot. Sligo with some senior personnel missing kicked off into the Corinthians half and an early opportunity for a penalty kick to Sligo was missed but this offence due to Sligo pressure was an early indication of how the first half was to be played out with territorial superiority to Sligo.
After 13 minutes Sligo’s continued pressure resulted in a try by Sean Mullin and a surefooted Enda Gavin duly converted. 7-0 Sligo. Against the run of play Corinthians were awarded a penalty which gave them their first points on the score board 7-3 Sligo.
Sligo dominance continued with great scrummaging from Aaron Tansey, Ross O’Boyle and Thomas Gormley who gave a master class of excellent front row play.
Just before the half time whistle, Sligo were awarded a penalty which left the score at 10-3 but given the territorial advantage and dominance in possession Sligo should have had a healthier score board at half time.
Corinthians kicked off the second half and immediately after some good running sent their winger in for a try, 10-10. This score made Corinthians appear to have taken heart from their half time talk, particularly the outhalf who began to manage their game resulting in their next try after 20 minutes, giving Corinthians the lead for the first time, 17-10. The Sligo coaching team began to use the subs off the bench and James O’Hehir made a welcome return to the Sligo back row after a 2 year layoff due to injury and immediately made an impact.
Corinthians further pressurised the Sligo line on a number of occasions and winger Brian Mullen,Garry Conneally and Gary O’Hehir made try saving tackles. Sligo entered the Corinthians half after a great break from Matthew Davey who popped the ball to Matt Kavanagh who made an incisive run and on the tackle offloaded to Brian Mullin who ran in a well worked try which was not converted leaving the score 17-15 with 5 minutes to go, an epic end to a great cup game. This Sligo pack continued their dominant play helped by Jake Sexton, Dermot Kiely, David Cawley and Shane Mitchell driven on by Captain Michael McMorrow.
Sligo now sensing a victory received the ball from the Corinthians kick off and immediately worked their way up the pitch with a forward dominating maul. The outcome of this persistent forward pressure again led the referee to penalise Corinthians for an illegal side entry giving a last minute penalty to Sligo just on the 25 meter line that could win the game. The Sligo supporters waited with bated breath as Enda Gavin who is having a stellar kicking season struck the ball through the posts to win the game, 18-17. This final play brought a silence to the local Corinthians support but joy to all of the Sligo contingent.
It is cup games like this that the Sligo team and travelling supporters will remember for years to come for the sheer determination of the Sligo squad winning in Galway which is never easy.
Afterwards, the successful kiwi duo of Paddy Pearson and Roger Burrows congratulated the team on a great performance especially their never give up attitude, however he reminded all present that there were more difficult games ahead in the league and next Sunday a home Cup QF final v Connemara who are the on-form team of J1A.
Sligo Development Squad: Matt Kavanagh, Brian Mullen, Matt Davey, Sean Mullen, Amin Sikh, Enda Gavin, Gary O’Hehir, Jake Sexton, Michael McMorrow (Captain), Shane Mitchell, Dermot Kiely, David Cawley, Ross O’Boyle, Aaron Tansey, Thomas Gormley, Gary Coneally, Liam McElhinney, James O’Hehir, David Cummins.