Last Saturday saw the end of a rugby era for two Sligo players as they played their final home game in Hamilton Park.
Conor Mitchell, prolific front-rower and adopted Sligo man captained the Club in 2015 and returned to the role last Saturday to lead the team out against Sunday’s Well.
Conor will hang up his AIL boots at the end of the season, having played over 100 games for Sligo RFC over the last 7 years.
As a player, he always made his presence felt and he will be missed, both on and off the pitch. Mataele Fifita came to Sligo from Tonga 10years ago. He fell in love with both Sligo and a local girl, and the rest is history.
Sligo RFC would like to thank Conor and Mata for their commitment to the Club and wish them the very best in the future.
Congratulations to Ryan Feehily who was awarded the Senior Club Player of the Year title at the Connacht Awards night last Saturday in Galway. Sligo co-captain, Ryan is a dynamic scrum half, who plays apivotal role on the pitch. Well done Ryan.
“Belief, ambition, community” are the words inscribed on the Connacht U13 gold medals and the Sligo team certainly reflected that ethos throughout their season. It has been 11years since Sligo brought home the Connacht U13 Cup, but they did so with style, overcoming a 7point deficit to win by 3points against Athlone outfit Buccaneers.
Sligo were considered the underdogs, given that Buccaneers had already had a clean sweep in the non-competitive Connacht league, but it was the favourites who found themselves at the wrong end of a disciplined and decisive performance by Sligo RFC.
The first half was dominated by Sligo, who showed flair and determination, but failed to puncture the Buccaneer defence. The scoreboard read 0-0 at halftime, and both teams had everything to play for, but Sligo now found themselves playing into a strong headwind.
Buccaneers made the most of this advantage, breaching the Sligo defence halfway through the second half to clock up the opening score of the game. A well-worked break resulted in a try under the posts and the conversion gave Buccaneers a 7-0 lead.
The large travelling support gave the Sligo lads the impetus they needed, and their heads never went down. Jack McDaniel made a powerful break from the halfway line and was eventually chased down, preventing a certain try. Sligo had their tails up at this stage and were finally rewarded when first centre Ronan O Connor broke from his own 22 to cross the try line and bring Sligo within 2points. Captain Mark Tempany’s conversion lost the battle with the wind and drifted wide.
Buccaneers rallied again, but it was Sligo who were proving the more disciplined and determined in their play, epitomised by the David versus Goliath moment, when Clyde Regan, perhaps the smallest player on the pitch, put in a crunching tackle against Buccaneers’ biggest player. With only 7minutes left on the clock, Sligo’s Dean Marsden broke through on the halfway line to score out wide, much to the delight of the large, travelling crowd. The difficult conversion fell short of its mark, but more importantly Sligo had a 3point lead.
The remainder of the game was played at a high tempo, with both sides threatening to cross the whitewash, but Sligo’s defensive line was disciplined and held strong. In the final play of the game, Buccaneers thought they had scored, but the referee deemed it a knock-on and his final whistle was greeted with relief and celebrations from the Sligo contingent.
This was a real battle of the packs, a game won and lost in the rucks. Sligo played honourable and disciplined rugby, having confidence in each other and in their own abilities.
Captain Mark Tempany accepted the trophy on behalf of his team, thanking the coaches and management, supporters and his players, having given it 100% on the pitch. Head Coach Ken Draper said that it was “very thrilling to see a bunch of players get such a result, that they really deserve”. Many impact players had only started playing rugby this year and it’s a credit to the coaching staff to have brought the players to where they are today. The young team had got better and better as the season progressed, putting in extra training sessions, with great commitment from the players and great support from their parents. The U13 team have players from a wide catchment area including Tubbercurry, Coola, Riverstown, Ballinafad, North Sligo, Charlestown, Ballisodare, Strandhill, Rosses Point and the greater Sligo area.
Sligo U13s: Evan O’Beirne, Cathal Hughes, Rory Johnston, Cathal Lang, Jack McDaniel, Max O’Hehir, Dean Davey, Isaac Marsden, Jack Draper, Mark Tempany (c) Cormac Mullins, Ronan O’Connor, Eamon Keane, Abhainn Savage, Clyde Regan, Joris Rooney, Evan Gormley, Ronan Tobin, Ben O’Hehir, Aodhan Shovelin, Seamus Casey, Ultan Bree, Devon Carey, Conor Marren, Thomas Nooney, Patrick Sweeney, Christian Mc Entire Coaching staff and management Ken Draper, Donal O’Connor, Niall Hughes, David Tobin and Emer Bree
The President, Chairman, committee, players and members of Sligo RFC extend their deepest sympathies to Tom Nielsen on the recent passing of his father Poul. Condolences also to Mary, senior player Christian and Erin, and to Poul’s wife Dorothea and Tom’s sister Anette.
Poul lived in Herning, Denmark and after a recent short illness sadly passed away on Thursday morning. He was a former officer in the army in Denmark.
Tom and Mary came to Ireland from the UK with their then young children Christian and Erin. From the outset, Tom immediately embraced the Club, taking up a role as team manager. Since then he has been a loyal servant of the Club acting on the General and Executive Committees for many years. He is a former recipient of the Club Person of the year award and continues to serve as Youth Coordinator and Membership Secretary. Christian started in the Club’s youth section and is currently plays on the Club’s senior and development sides.
Our thoughts are with Tom and family at this sad time. Poul’s funeral service will be held in Herning on Tuesday morning. Ar dheis dé go raibh a anam Må han hvile i fred.
The ‘Give Reffin a Try’ information night will take place on Monday 29th April at 7.30 pm in Sligo RFC clubhouse. This event will be of interest to anyone who would like to get involved in refereeing the game.IRFU Referee Development & Education Manager Peter Fitzgibbon will give a presentation on the many facets of his role, including
How the referee system works in Connacht and beyond
What pathways, supports and benefits are available to those that do get involved
How to sign up
Q & A session
Members of the ARCB will be in attendance to give an insight in to their experiences as a referee, and we will give everyone a chance to ‘be the referee’ with some interactive work.
Referees have one of the toughest jobs in sport. It is important to remember that the referees are under pressure during the game too, not just the players and we all agree on how much respect referees deserve from everyone who is a part of the rugby family.
As a club, Sligo RFC must also play its part in encouraging and training referees.
Sligo rounded off their All Ireland League division 2B campaign with a bonus point win in a see-saw affair at Strandhill on Saturday. Sligo scored 6 trys to Sundays Wells’ 5 in a match that went from end to end for the full 80 minutes.
With Sligo’s promotion playoff position already secured, Coaches Paddy Pearson and Jason East were able to give some of their squad a well earned rest and try out some new combinations prior to the all important playoff against Blackrock College RFC in Dublin next Saturday.
With a strong gale blowing down the pitch from the eastern corner of Knocknarea, Sligo kicked off into the teeth of the breeze. The visitors made the early pace and opened the scoring with a try in the corner after 5 minutes.
Sligo fought back and opened their own account when hooker James O’Hehir crashed over near the posts following a sustained period of pressure. Jack Keegan added the extras to put Sligo two points ahead.
Sligo’s lead was short lived, as the ‘Well picked up trys on 30th and 35th minutes to open up a 12 point lead before speedster Calum Goddard made an excellent break from his own half to within 10 meters of the visitors line. Goddard was hauled down but scrum half Brendan Cunningham was in support and collected and raced over on the right to close the gap to 7 going into the interval.
Following the resumption Goddard added a try of his own with a well worked play from a scrum before Sligo regained the lead with a super score manufactured from inside their own 22. O’Hehir found Diarmuid O’Dowd Hill at the lineout and the ball was move infield to the left. Euan Brown ,Enda Gavin and Matele Fifita handled before Keegan slipped through a gap and drove into the visitors half. Keegan traded passes with Goddard before touching down on the left for an excellent score. Brown converted to put Sligo ahead 24-19.
The action continued apace and the ‘Well picked up a fourth try with 15 minutes remaining. Philip Carter successfully charged down the conversion attempt and the teams were level at 24 points each.
The ‘Well again took the lead with a converted score following some loose play by the home team before Goddard picked up his second of the day out wide on the right. Browns’ sweetly struck conversion brought the teams level again.
With 5 minutes left on the clock a well struck penalty regained the lead for the visitors but the locals were not to be outdone and worked their way back down the pitch and camped themselves within touching distance of the visitors line before Fifita powered over to seal the match for Sligo.
Pearson and East will be happy with the win but more importantly was the opportunity to blood new squad members Brian West and Matthew Early who both played their part when brought into the fray. Another bonus for Sligo was the return from long term injury layoffs for Shane Boyle and Ross Hickey who both picked up valuable game time prior to next weeks all important promotion play off.
Saturday will also be remembered as the final home game for Sligo’s Conor Mitchell and Matele Fifita with both players intending to retire at the end of this season. Sligo will be doing their utmost to ensure that both players will finishing their careers having secured promotion to Division 2B. The playoff semi final kicks off at 2.30 next Saturday at Blackrocks’ home in Stradbrook.
Sligo: Jack Keegan, Calum Goddard, Matele Fifita, Enda Gavin, Philip Carter, Euan Brown, Brendan Cunningham, Tom Gormely, James O’Hehir, Kuba Wojtkowicz, Ciaran Cassidy, Jake Sexton, Diarmuid O’Dowd Hill, Sean Wynne, Matt Davey, Reps: Matthew Earley, Ross Hickey, Conor Mitchell, Shane Boyle, Brian West.
Sligo confirmed their place in All Ireland League Division 2B promotion play-off with a hard fought victory in a pulsating encounter over Dungannon RFC at Stevenson park on Saturday. Sligo’s win guarantees fourth place in division 2B, nine points ahead of fifth with one game to play and sets up a mouthwatering trip to Dublin to play Blackrock College RFC in the first round of the playoffs.
Sligo kicked off playing into the slight breeze on a surface suitable for running rugby. The opening exchanges were dominated by the hosts and Sligo found themselves behind from a penalty after 10 minutes and a converted try on the 25th minute.
Sligo dug in and began to impose their own play on the hosts. The scrum was solid with Tom Gormely, Kuba Wojtkowicz and Conor Mitchell putting in a strong shift. Ciaran Cassidy and Matt Davey were carrying strongly and Shane O’ Hehir was combining well with Rob Holian and Diarmuid O’Dowd-Hill at the lineout. The back three of Niall Gray,Phillip Carter and Calum Goddard we’re dealing well with any threat from the local backline. Sean Wynne was his usual industrious presence at the tackle line.
Sligo’s persistence paid off with 35 minutes on the clock. Good work from the forwards brought play close to the Dungannon line before the home team were forced into the concession of a penalty and a yellow card for their number 8. Sligo sensed blood and opted for a scrum. The home team survived the first wave of attack but Sligo dug in. Euan Brown and Mitchell both tested the defence before scrum half Ryan Feehily brilliantly sniped down the right of the ruck and touched down under the posts. Jack Keegan added the extras to shorten the gap to three.
Right on the interval Sligo struck again. Shane O’Hehir made a searing break from deep in Sligo territory before being hauled down in the Dungannon 22. A quick recycle gave speedster Calum Goddard the chance to race around the cover and dot down in the corner to move Sligo into a two point lead at the break.
Unfortunately O’Hehir had to retire shortly afterwards through injury but was ably replaced by his brother James, making his welcome return to AIL action following a long period of injury.
The lead changed hands again early in the second half as the home side benefited with an unconverted try following a lapse in concentration in the Sligo defence, but Sligo wrestled back the initiative with Feehily’s second of the day following up on a Wojtkowicz drive that was stopped short. Keegan converted to move the score to 15-19.
With 15 minutes remaining the home team again took back the lead with a try from a driving lineout maul, the successful conversion put three between the sides.
Sligo again responded with some fine tactical kicking from Mark Butler putting pressure on the home defence. The pressure paid off and Keegan slotted over an equalising penalty with ten minutes remaining remaining before taking the lead with three minutes to go with another excellently struck effort.
The drama didn’t end there though and with seconds left on the clock Dungannon were awarded a penalty outside the Sligo 22. The home outfit opted to go for the win and turned down the three point attempt to go to the corner instead. Sligo however were not to be beaten and O’Dowd-Hill got the first hand to the lineout feeding replacement scrum half Brendan Cunningham whose pass to Butler was the final one of day. Butler kicked the ball to touch and Sligo were celebrating.
Sligo now face Sundays Well in Strandhill in the final game of regular league action next Saturday at 2.30 before travelling east to Stradbrook to face Blackrock. While not yet confirmed, the playoff match is likely to be fixed for Easter Saturday April 20th.
Sligo: Niall Gray, Calum Goddard, Jack Keegan, Mark Butler, Philip Carter, Euan Brown, Ryan Feehily, Kuba Wojtkowicz, Shane O’Hehir, Tom Gormely, Rob Holian, Ciaran Cassidy, Diarmuid O’Dowd-Hill, Sean Wynne, Matt Davey. Reps Conor Mitchell, James O’Hehir, Jason East, Enda Gavin, Brendan Cunningham.
Sligo RFC’s youngest 15 a side team were convincing winners over Ballina in a thrilling cup semi final contest in Hamilton Park on Saturday.
The Sligo boys started strongly receiving the kick off and retaining the ball well in the early phases with openside flanker Dean Davey soon breaking free to cross for the first score. Out Half Mark Tempany stepped up to slot the conversion adding the points.
Sligo continued to apply the pressure with some strong ball carries by their forwards , good interplay and swift passing by their backs seeing winger Abhainn Savage get over in the corner.
Ballina came back strongly with some excellent play stretching the Sligo cover and getting in for a well worked try just before half time.
After the break the visitors came back strongly and closed on Sligo with another good try narrowing the score board to 12 – 10.
A well organised Sligo were soon back in control with structured play and rampaging runs by their forwards leading to another good try when Issac Marsden made the line.
The local boys continued to apply the pressure and soon got the ball wide to release pacey Savage again for an impressive run down the right and finished under the posts. Again, Mark Tempany was on target for the conversion.
Ballina fought back well and pinned Sligo in their half with some good tactical kicking and open play stretching the Sligo defence. This yielded a fine try in the closing minutes however as the whistle blew it was Sligo’s day with the scoreboard showing a 24 – 12 victory for the home team.
Sligo meet Buccaneers RFC, Athlone in the final to be played in The Sports Ground in Galway on Apri 14th.
The Sligo All-Ireland League Division 2B team currently lie in 4th place in the league, 6 points behind Rainey Old Boys and 7 points ahead of Wanderers in 5th. The team travel to 8th placed Dungannon RFC on Saturday 6th April and are hoping for a repeat of their 33-25 win from last October. Sligo need one final win to confirm their 4th place playoff spot and challenge for promotion to Division 2A.