J1A: Connemara All-Blacks prove too strong for Sligo

Sligo Development 17 – Connemara 31

A depleted Sligo Development team played the first senior game on the newly opened second grass pitch last Sunday, taking on table-toppers Connemara in the Connacht J1A league. It was always going to be an uphill battle against a team who have only lost once this season, but the Sligo squad had been laid threadbare through injury and illness and had to call up players from The Gulls to bolster their ranks.

Sligo’s Robbie Ryan makes his debut at senior level

The visitors had the lion’s share of possession from the start and Sligo found themselves defending phase after phase of pressure, but their defence stood strong and it was the home side who took the lead with an Enda Gavin penalty after 21 minutes. Connemara equalised with a well-struck penalty of their own, but it took the visitors until the 35th minute to get their first try to give them a 3-10 lead. This was quickly followed by a second try as they breached a gap in the Sligo defence to go 3-17 up at half-time.

Jason Havea powers through the Connemara defence

The second-half opened with Sligo piling on the pressure, but Connemara were determined not to let the home side breach their line and a resurgent counter-attack resulted in a third try for the visitors on the 45 minute mark. All credit to the home side as they rallied the troops and after a period of sustained pressure, were rewarded with a try by powerhouse Jason Havea. Out half Enda Gavin added the extras to bring the score to 10-24. With 5 minutes left on the clock Connemara added another 7 points to their tally, securing the try bonus point, but it was the home side who closed out the scoring as Enda Gavin dived over the line and converted the try with the last play of the game.

Sligo: Patrick Saba, Liam Mc Elhinney, Ross O’Boyle, Gary Golden, David Cawley, Jake Sexton, Simon Coulter, Jason Havea, Garry O’Hehir, Kevin Connell, Sean Mullin, Robbie Ryan, Jack Gormley, Eoin Mc Cormack, Swifty, Alex Seapoint, Michael Healy, Terence O’Connor,

Sligo Women Honoured by Connacht Rugby

Therese Cosgrove, Sylvia Hodgins, Geraldine Ward, Sandra Hallinan, Rosie Morrissey, Siobhan Gilroy and Finola Monaghan. Absent from photo: Emer Bree, Stephanie O’Connor, Tara Walsh

The Irish Women’s Rugby Football Union was only established in 1991 and since its inception, Sligo RFC has been well represented, at both provincial and international levels. A total of ten members of Sligo RFC, who had proudly donned the green of Connacht at the highest level twenty years ago, were among those recognised and honoured by Connacht Rugby at The Sportsground last Saturday night. All past Connacht players who attended The Connacht Women’s Recognition Evening were presented with a special memento in honour of their contribution to women’s rugby in the province.

Connacht U16s & U17s Representative Honours

Connacht U16s Niall O’Connor & Ewan Ripon

Sligo RFC’s Niall O’Connor and Ewan Ripon were our two players on the Connacht U16 team who beat Munster U16s Club & Schools 55-12 in University of Limerick last week.

The Connacht U17s played the Leinster U18 Regions team on the main pitch in Buccaneers RFC. last Wednesday.

Micheal Broaders in action for Connacht U17s

Sligo RFC’s Micheál Broaders was our sole representative on the pitch as Darragh Craig was side-lined due to injury. The game ended in a draw 19-19.

Top Oil Connacht Schools Cups draw

A record 62 teams in the 2018/19 Top Oil Connacht Schools Cups draw

The draw took place last Saturday in the Heineken Rugby Clubhouse at The Sportsground, prior to Connacht’s 33-12 win over Dragons and included the largest ever number of competing teams in the competitions.

In the Senior Cup, Summerhill College find themselves in the very tough Pool 1, with reigning champions Garbally, alongside Colaiste Iognaid, the team they beat in last year’s decider. Sligo Grammar are in Pool 2 with the Marist College and Roscommon CBS.

It’s a different story in the Junior A Cup, as both Sligo schools are in Pool 1, alongside defending champions Marist College and Colaiste Iognaid. Pool 2 will contain Garbally, CBS Roscommon, St Muiredachs and The Bish. Best of luck to Sligo Grammar School and Summerhill College from all in Sligo RFC.

The opening pool games taking place on Wednesday 16th January. Further pool games on Wednesday 23rd and Wednesday 30th January will determine who will go on to the knockout stages.

Irish Cap for Donnacha

Sligo’s Donnacha Byrne won his first cap for his country last Saturday, when he played for Ireland U18s against Italy Academy U18s in La Ghirada Centro Sportivo Treviso. The interprovincial-winning Connacht U18 squad made up almost half of the Ireland U18 Clubs squad.

Connacht’s Darragh Murray from Buccaneers RFC captained the side from the second row, alongside two more Connacht men in the back row, Oisin McCormack from Ballinasloe RFC and Sligo RFC’s Donnacha Byrne at number 8.

There were seven players from the province included in the starting line-up and four more on the bench. Ireland led 7-21 half-time and continued their dominance in the second half, clocking up a 12-31 win over the home side.

Donnacha wore the Irish jersey with great pride and represented Sligo RFC and Connacht with distinction.

Youth & Juvenile Results

Sligo U18.5s currently lie 5th in the Division 1A of the U18.5 league. Last Saturday they travelled to Corinthians RFC, who are second in the league, on equal points with Ballinasloe, but with a lesser points difference. The home side proved strong in the end and were comfortable victors with a 33-14 score line.

U17s Patrick Dixon is lifted high to secure the ball for Sligo

Sligo U17s Development team hosted Westport on a stunning day in Hamilton Park. This was a complete try-fest, the visitors gaining the upper hand at the end, with an incredible final score of 54-70. The U17s have a huge squad of players and the emerging development team has been the result. Well done to all players and coaches involved.

The highly anticipated U16 derby between Sligo and Ballina kicked off on Saturday and the game lived up to the hype, with neither side giving an inch in the opening twenty minutes of the game.

U16s Sean Gilvarry hands off a Ballina player

The visitors were first to strike and had a period of dominance at the end of the first half, to stretch their lead to 5-12 at the half-time whistle. The second half was a torrid affair, with a litany of high tackles marring the game and the tension was mounting between the two sides. Ballina struck again to go 14points up on the home side, but Sligo showed their determination to exert a sustained period of pressure on the visitors and were rewarded for their efforts when Adam Hunter drove over for the try.

U16s Adam Hunter grounds the ball to score for Sligo

Sean Gilvarry slotted home the extras to bring the home side within 7points. Ballina’s defence held strong and a succession of penalties eventually led to a yellow card for another high tackle.

U16s Oisin Diffley drives through with the ball

Sligo again led a barrage against the Ballina try line, but their maul was held up and a scrum to the defence was the result. The visitors cleared their lines with a long punt up the pitch, which was chased by the Ballina back line, despite the calls for offside and the resultant try under the posts was awarded. With only minutes remaining, the visitors crossed the whitewash again to bring the final score to 12-31.

The U14s travelled to Castlebar, where the home side were determined to notch up their second win of the season and move up the table, but Joe Walsh’s team had other ideas. The result was a tough encounter between the two sides, but it was the visitors who held their nerve to win 26-21 and come away with all 4points and maintain their dominance of the U14 Division 1 Pool A, proudly topping the table after four games.

Sligo U11s do well in Carrick RFC blitz

Sligo RFC Juvenile section travelled en masse to Carrick-on-Shannon on Saturday to play in the Carrick RFC blitz. A total of 130 players, representing teams from U8s to U12s played a series of games against their Carrick counterparts and a great day was had by all, despite the blustery and cold conditions.

Three senior teams line out for Sligo RFC – the future looks bright.

It was a weekend of mixed results for the Sligo senior teams, with the AIL team losing to Wanderers and the Development team went down fighting in Castlebar, at the wrong end of a 25-12 score line in the Connacht J1A league. It was a different story for The Gulls, who travelled to Westport, where they made it three from three, maintaining their 100% record with a comprehensive 7-26 win, to stay at the top of the Connacht J2 league.

Whereas the results may not have all gone our way, it was a great achievement for the club to be fielding three senior men’s teams, comprising of almost 60 different players. The Club now boasts twenty teams, a testament to the incredible development and growth of our underage section over the years and the hard work put in by the teams of coaches and background staff.

Official Opening of Two New Pitches

Last Saturday marked a special day in the 128year history of Sligo RFC, as Mayor Rosaleen O’Grady and Club President Des Cosgrove cut the ribbon to officially open the state-of-the-art, 4G artificial, grass pitch and the upgraded, second, grass pitch.   They were led in the ceremony by Chairman Niall Gray and joined by Connacht IRFU representative Kevin Dineen, local councillors Marie Casserly, Tony Mc Loughlin and Marc MacSharry, and members of the Juvenile and Youth sections. Fr Niall Ahern blessed the new pitches and Rory Raftery member of the Development Committee spoke of the importance of the financial support of the members, the community, the Sligo business community and of the Sports Capital programme in providing funding to make the project a reality.

Mayor Rosaleen O’Grady & Sligo RFC President Des Cosgrove cut the ribbon to officially open the new pitches

It is hard to believe that it was only three years ago that a four-phase plan was put into action to improve the facilities at Hamilton Park and meet the growing demands of its 20 teams and 450 playing members. Since then, work has been carried out in relation to external facilities, such as securing the grounds, fencing, internal road/path works and re-development of the gateway. Substantial Clubhouse repairs and renovations with the assistance of Sligo Leader Partnership through the Tus programme. Add to that the new, all-weather, training pitch, new grass pitch, lighting, dugouts and car park and you will have a clear picture of how the club has developed over the past few years.  The future development of facilities will also extend to the Clubhouse, redevelopment of the main grass pitch and proposed extension to the stand facility, to double its capacity.

Head of the Development Committee Rory Raftery pictured with juvenile members of the club

All this development is due to the hard work and dedication of the Development Committee, along with committee and club members, who together have sought out investors and sponsors, and run fundraising events locally to source the much-needed funds to meet the growing needs of the club.

Mayor Rosaleen O’Grady with Club President Des Cosgrove

Sligo RFC are deeply indebted to the members and friends of Sligo RFC, sponsors and the local business community who continue to support the development of the club.

Club President Des Cosgrove with Damian & Mary Henry

Next in the fundraising pipeline is the opportunity to win an all-expenses paid trip to the Rugby World Cup in Japan, when the club issue their Your Club, Your Country tickets, available from club members.  This will be followed on December 15th by a Back to the 80s Christmas Party Night in the club after the last match of the year.  Details will be on the club’s Facebook page and website.  Tickets can be purchased through Cosgrove’s Centra, Maugheraboy, Keane’s Centra, Strandhill and The Record Room.

AIL 2B: Sligo fall short against Wanderers

Sligo RFC 20 – Wanderers FC 28

Sligo hosted Wanderers FC in their second home All Ireland League match of the season, but despite scoring four try’s to the visitors three, had to settle for a single match point as the Landsdowne road based outfit held an eight point lead at the final whistle.

Mark Butler stops Wanderers’ in their tracks

Despite the incessant heavy Strandhill rain on Saturday morning the pitch was in excellent condition as the teams crossed the whitewash. Sligo kicked off playing towards the airport end but it was Wanderers who took the initiative and made an early attack on the Sligo line. Sligo’s defence prevented the line from being breached and a strong scrum earned a relieving penalty.

Shane O Hehir waits to pounce as Mata Fifita puts in a big tackle

Wanderers continued to press and eventually opened their account with a Peter Brougham penalty with fifteen minutes on the clock.

Sligo responded immediately. From the restart the Wanderers clearance was collected by Sligo’s Callum Goddard. The Full back counter attacked into midfield before linking up with Philip Carter. Carter was held on the ten metre line and Sligo quickly recycled. Scrum half Brendan Cunningham moved the ball infield to Mark Butler who timed his pass perfectly to put Kuba Wojtkowicz through the gap. The rampaging prop burst through the defence and used all of his considerable power to make it all the way to the line for Sligo’s opening score.

Jason Havea on the attack

It was Wanderers turn to react, and a sustained period of pressure on the Sligo line resulted in centre Rob O’Byrne crashing over to reclaim the lead. Brougham converted and Wanderers were up by five.

Again Sligo hit back when good work from Sean Mullin and Mata Fifita gave position in the visitors 22. Shane Boyle made a strong carry followed up by further good play from Shane O’Hehir and Wojtkowicz. The play continued right and Butlers long pass to Goddard allowed the full back the space to feed Carter who squeezed over in the corner to level the scores.

Right on the stroke of half time the visitors regained the lead. A penalty on half way was kicked to the corner. Wanderers used their pick and drive to work the ball close to the line and a switch move in midfield caused enough hesitation to allow Martin O’Neill the space to crash over at the posts. Brougham converted and the blue side went into the interval with a seven point lead.

Sligo’s Kuba Wojtkowicz keeps Wanderers at bay

Ten minutes into the second half the visitors pushed the lead out to ten points with another well struck Brougham penalty before moving further ahead with try out wide from winger Martin Bosch.

Sligo hit back with an excellently taken score when a sweeping backline move following a scrum on the left gave Goddard the chance to use his pace to race in to the right hand corner.

Wanderers closed out their account with another Brougham penalty with five minutes remaining before Ryan Feehily earned a try bonus point for Sligo with an excellent finish in the right corner.

Scrum half Brendan Cunningham makes a dart for the try line

Sligo now sit in sixth place in the division 2B table and next up is a trip to the capital to lock horns with second placed Greystones RFC. The match kicks off at 2.30 at Dr Hickey Park next Saturday.

Sligo: Calum Goddard, Sean Mullin, Ryan Feehily, Mata Fifita, Philip Carter, Mark Butler, Brendan Cunningham, Kuba Wojtkowicz, Shane O’Hehir, Tom Gormely, Jason Havea, Ciaran Cassidy, Shane Boyle, Matt Davey, Ross Hickey, Conor Mitchell, Ross O’Boyle, Rob Holian, Matthew Cosgrove, Enda Gavin

J1A: Dominant Sligo take all 5 points

Sligo Development Team 36 – Galwegians 12

Sligo Development Team earned their first win of the season last Saturday in Hamilton Park, when they took on Galwegians in the fourth round of the Connacht J1A league. Having already secured three losing points, Sligo were determined to move up the league table with a home win.
The home side started strongly and opened the scoring after 10 minutes, with an Enda Gavin penalty in front of the posts.

Sligo’s Garry O’ Hehir spins the ball out wide

They continued their dominance in the Galwegians half and it was head coach Ross O’Boyle who led from the front, scoring the teams’ first try from a well-worked maul. The difficult conversion drifted wide, as the wind gusted across the pitch. Sligo continued to capitalise on their possession and only 6 minutes later, were rewarded with another try from a move which started within their own 22. Christian Nielsen showed great speed and to break through the Galwegians’ line. Nielsen, supported by Jack Gormley, continued his run up the pitch to score in the corner, much to the delight of the home crowd. Enda Gavin curled in the difficult conversion, to put 15 points between the two sides.

The Sligo defence remained solid and Galwegians were unable to break through at the half-time mark. Continue reading