The Sligo RFC Annual Awards & Dinner Dance will take place on Friday 24th May in The Glasshouse Hotel. There are only a limited number of tables, so with over 750 members in the club, early booking is advised. More details will be available soon.
Sligo 10 – Ballina 14
After the first quarter-final battle ended up 19-19, Sligo were hoping to make the most of home advantage to topple local rivals Ballina, who were hot favourites to win the Connacht U16 Cup.
There was a sizeable home crowd in attendance and the atmosphere was charged, typical of a cup tie. The game started at a fast pace and the home wise were quick to settle, putting pressure on Ballina and maintaining possession. However, it was the visitors who were first to break the deadlock. A sweeping move by Sligo, with the ball being moved wide through the hands, was intercepted by the pacey Ballina fullback and he punched through the Sligo defence to touch down to the left of the posts. The out half added the extras to bring the score to 0-7.
Sligo regained possession from the restart and piled on the pressure. The forwards did a great job of picking and driving their way up the pitch, going through the phases and pulling the Ballina defence out of position. A strong drive from the back of a ruck, supported by the pack, eventually drove Ewan Ripon over the line for a well-deserved 5points. Out half Oisin Cregg had a difficult kick to level the game, but he judged it to perfection, kicking into the wind and curling the ball inside the upright. Sligo continued to control the game for the remaining 8 minutes of the half. Persistent infringements by the visitors eventually led to a penalty in front of the posts and Cregg assuredly slotted the ball home to bring the score to 10-7 on the half-time whistle.
The second half was a dogged affair with Sligo dominating in the line-out and having the lion’s share of possession. The greasy conditions led to a lot of handling errors on both sides, but it was the home side who continued to press, looking for the next score. A Cregg penalty was well struck from quite a distance but didn’t have the legs and the margin between the two sides remained a mere three points. Sligo once again applied pressure from the restart, but it was Ballina who made the breakthrough, when they pounced on a loose ball and kicked through the Sligo defence. A chase ensued, and the Ballina centre picked it up and sped through to score a try. The conversion brought the score to 10-14, with only minutes left on the clock. The Sligo lads kept their heads and kept fighting for the ball. They regained possession and pushed for the line. Repeated infringements by the opposition resulted in a string of penalties for the home side, bringing them within metres of the line each time, however only a try would suffice, and the clock was against them. Sligo kept the pressure on, but Ballina eventually won the ball back and kicked it to touch to end the game and put themselves into the Cup semi-final against Corinthians.
It was heartbreak for the Sligo lads, who put in a huge effort, giving 100% right until the final whistle. Great credit must go to all the players for their dedication throughout the season and a huge thanks to the coaching team of Hagan Mc Quaid, Michael O’Hehir, Wesley Maxwell and John Garvey, as well as all the parents for their support during the year.
Sligo Development Team had a whirlwind season, having to win their final league game in order to avoid relegation and yet then finishing 5th in the J1A league. The team had a short-lived Cup campaign but have now reached the Connacht Junior Plate Final, having secured a 13-10 point victory over Ballinrobe RFC in the semi-final.
Sligo will now contest the Connacht Junior Plate Final against Our Ladies Boys Club (OLBC) next Sunday 24th March at 1pm in The Sportsground.
Saturday 23rd March sees the second last home game of the season in Division 2B of the All-Ireland League. Sligo, currently in 4th place, take on league leaders M.U. Barnhall at 3.00p.m. in Hamilton Park.
There will be a pre-match lunch beforehand, open to all members and friends of Sligo RFC. Tickets for the lunch are priced at €15 per person, which includes a 2 course lunch from The Glasshouse, complimentary wine and entry to the match.
Nearly forty U17s have been training all season, the highest number ever, and this has enabled the club to enter teams in both U17 divisions. The Division 2 team finished 3rd in the league, beating Connemara in the semi-final to earn their place in the Connacht final against league leaders Westport. This final on 10th February, ended in a 26-26 draw and will now be replayed on Sunday, 24th March. Best of luck to all the lads.
Sligo take on Ballinasloe RFC next Saturday at 11:30am in Hamilton Park. The home side had a comprehensive 28-14 win against Corinthians in their quarter-final and Ballinasloe also had a comfortable 10-25 win against Ballina.
This is a huge game for the U18.5s, all support would be greatly appreciated.
Several members of the Sligo U16 & U18 teams took part in the trials to join the Connacht U18s 7-a-side squad for 2019.
Congratulations to Alannah Gallagher who made the squad and will start training with Connacht next week.
Sligo Development team 13 Ballinrobe RFC 10
It was only the hardiest of supporters who were brave enough to take to Hamilton Park last Sunday to cheer on the Sligo Development Team in their quest for a place in the Connacht Plate final. The weather was bitterly cold and the strong, swirling wind was destined to play a big role from the whistle.
Ballinrobe were quickest to settle into the game and their strong pack dominated for the first 10minutes, with their maul causing problems for the home side and eventually resulting in a drive over the Sligo line for the opening score of the game. The conversion seemed on target, but the wind proved too strong and the ball fell short of the posts.
Sligo upped their game from the restart and started to exert pressure on the visitors. The weather conditions continued to worsen, resulting in a litany of handling errors on both sides. The home side were dominant in the scrum and this provided them with a good attacking platform from which to run their set plays and exert further pressure on Ballinrobe. Indiscipline on both sides led to several penalties, but the strong wind negated any kicking options. It wasn’t until the half hour mark that Sligo were rewarded for their patience. After a scrum on the 10m line, the strong Sligo pack went through the phases and it was Sean Mullin who picked the ball off the back of a ruck to score under the posts. Garry O’ Hehir slotted home the extras and Sligo took the lead for the first time. However, this lead was short lived, as Ballinrobe regained possession from the restart and pushed for the line. The ‘Robe maul again proved too strong for the home side and they were able to add another 5points to their score. Just as with their first try, the wind proved to be too strong and the conversion fell short, to give the visitors a mere 3point lead at the half-way mark.
The short break re-energised the home side and they came out fighting in the second half. The crowd were delighted with the great display of interlinking play between the pack and the back line. Garry O’Hehir flashed the ball out wide to Charlie Cooper, who swiftly reversed the play back to O’Hehir and he showed an impressive turn of speed to break through the Ballinrobe defence and bring play up to the 10m. The visitors did manage to clear their lines, but Sligo counter-attacked and were awarded a penalty in front of the posts, which was slotted home by Garry O’Hehir to bring the score to 10-10.
Possession continued to change hands as the deteriorating weather conditions made handling difficult. Ballinrobe pushed forward again and a Sligo indiscretion in the ruck gave the visitors a penalty on the Sligo 22m line, which they opted to run. The Sligo defence held strong and Ballinrobe were reduced to 14 men, when their no8 picked up a shoulder injury and they had no subs on the bench. The sides stayed deadlocked at 10-10 until another Garry O’Hehir penalty put the home side 3 points up with 13 minutes still left on the clock. Brave Ballinrobe continued to battle, but Sligo were dominating in all the set plays and another injury reduced their numbers even further. The Sligo pack kept the ball in hand for the remainder of the game and went through the phases to retain possession and work their way up the pitch. The referee eventually called a halt to proceedings, much to the delight of the sizeable home crowd.
This was a well-deserved win, led by the player-coaches Ross O’Boyle, Garry O’Hehir and James O’Hehir, along with team manager James Gavin. Club President Des Cosgrove paid tribute in particular to the contribution of James O’ Hehir who has “fought his way back on to the pitch after several operations on his knee, being told not to play again” and who shows “remarkable commitment to our club”. The Man of the Match award must go to front row Jason East, who made a big impact on the game with his incisive decision-making and great ball carrying ability.
Having had an epic win last weekend to secure their place in the Connacht J1A league, Sligo Development Team will now finish their season with a Connacht final on 24th March in The Sportsground. Sligo will play Our Lady’s Boys Club (Galway) in the Connacht Plate Final, who had a 13-12 win over Dunmore in their semi-final win last weekend.
Sligo Development Team: Craig Adams, Ross O’ Boyle, Conor Mc Elligott, Michael Mc Morrow, Christian Nielsen, James O’ Hehir, Jack Gormley, Jake Sexton, Garry O’ Hehir, Donal Brady, Robbie Ryan, Charlie Cooper, Sean Mullin, Clive Morris, Matthew Kavanagh, Jason East, Liam Mc Elhinney, Gary Golden, Eoin Mc Cormack, Shaun Cawley
Sligo 41 – Claremorris 5
Sligo U13s had a comprehensive 36 point victory over Claremorris RFC last Saturday in Hamilton Park. This was their first competitive game of the season, as the aim of the U13 league is to encourage players to learn and enjoy the game. It was the visitors who started the stronger, scoring in the opening 5minutes, but the home side were quick to even the scoring. Sligo then settled into the game and proved too strong for Claremorris, running in a further 6 tries. Sligo were the bigger pack and they were well-drilled and disciplined in their defence. They showed great determination and inter-linking play throughout the game.
Sligo will now play the Cup semi-final against either Loughrea or Ballina on March 30th.
Wanderers FC 29 – Sligo RFC 36
Sligo took another giant step in their quest to secure an All-Ireland League 2B promotion playoff spot with a bonus point win over Wanderers FC at Merrion road on Saturday. Sligo scored 5 trys on their way to victory but were made to fight all the way to the finish by a dangerous home side.
In blustery conditions it was the home side that kicked off and took the early initiative with a well worked try in the left corner with only 2 minutes gone. The difficult conversion attempt drifted wide. Sligo were stung into action and worked their way back into the game. Some strong running from Philip Carter brought his team into the Wanderers half and the home team were forced to concede a Penalty which Jack Keegan coolly slotted to open his and his team’s account. Sligo were now up and running and were carrying the game to their hosts. Mark Butler received on the half way and an excellent step inside opened up the home defence. The outhalf raced into the 22 and a huge skip pass gave winger Calum Goddard the opportunity to pin his ears back and race to the line for Sligo’s first try of the day. Keegan convert and Sligo were ahead by 5.
Sligo continued to press and it was the Butler/Goddard combination that once a gain opened the Wanderers defence. Butler received on the home 10 metre line and launched a pinpoint cross kick which was plucked from the air by Goddard. The winger raced into the 22 and combined with hooker Shane O’Hehir and scrum half Ryan Feehily before collecting and crossing over wide on the right , Keegan’s well struck conversion move the score to 5-17.
It was Wanderers turn to react and sweeping play was rewarded with a converted try to reel the deficit back to 5 with 16 minutes gone. The frantic pace of the game continued and it was the westerners who were next to trouble the scorekeeper. A fine clearance from full back Niall Gray positioned Sligo in the attacking half. Pressure on the wanderers throw forced the turnover after the lineout. Sligo went right and left through the phases before powerhouse second row Rob Holian collected on the 22 and burst through to the line for Sligo’s third of the day.
The bonus point was secured on the half hour. Sligo were awarded a scrum in the home 22. Matele Fifia carried strongly before Ciaran Cassidy and Diarmuid O’Dowd Hill took up the fight with good pick and go’s. Kuba Wojtkowicz collected 3 yards out and cleverly drove forward to touch down at the bottom of the post. Keegan again converted to move Sligos total to 29.
The home team were fighting to save their season and following the resumption worked their way back into the game with converted try’s on the 45th and 55th minutes. Sligo remained strong however and hit back again and Hat Trick Hero Goddard finished off a superbly worked team try following a right to left move. Keegan’s conversion put the score out to 26-36.
A wanders penalty brought the lead back to one score and Sligo’s cause was further hampered with a contentious yellow card reducing their numbers to 14 with only 12 minutes remaining. Wanderers threw everything at their guests in the final period but the visitors defence stood strong and an audacious steal from the excellent Ryan Feehily snuffed out the danger and Sligo were able to play down the clock on the half way line.
The bonus point win puts keeps Sligo in 4th position in Division 2B, 9 points ahead of Corinthians RFC in fifth and 1 point behind Rainey RFC in third with three games to play. The start of season goal of a playoff position is firmly with the grasp and Coaches Paddy Pearson and Jason East will be doing everything in their power to makes sure the goal is realised. Sligo now take a weeks break from action before welcoming the league pace setters MUI Barnhall to Strandhill on Saturday March 23rd.
Sligo: Niall Gray, Calum Goddard, Jack Keegan, Mata Fifita, Philip Carter, Mark Butler, Ryan Feehily, Kuba Wojtkowicz, Shane O’Hehir, Tom Gormely, Ciaran Cassidy, Rob Holian, Diarmuid O’Dowd Hill, Sean Wynne, Matt Davey. Reps Jason East, Conor Mitchell, Brendan Cunningham, Jake sexton, Enda Gavin.