All-Ireland League

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.

U17 Division 2 Final REPLAY

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.

U18.5 Cup Semi-Final

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.

Connacht Final for Sligo Development Team

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.

Sligo’s Charlie Cooper shows his strength driving through the line

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.

Sligo Coach Ross O’ Boyle leads by example

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.

Sligo’s Donal Brady chips over the Ballinrobe defensive line

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.

Sligo’s James O’Hehir on the charge again, supported by Michael Mc Morrow and Jack Gormley

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

Connacht U13s through to Cup Semi-Final

Sligo 41 – Claremorris 5

Sligo U13s through to Connacht Semi-Finals

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.

Sligo take Spoils in the City

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.

Stuart Hamilton RIP

The President, Chairman, Committee and members of Sligo RFC extend their deepest sympathies to Vivien Draper and George, Stuart, Ken, Robert, Niall and Jacqueline Draper and extended family on the sad passing of Stuart Hamilton, Vivien’s brother.

Stuart passed away peacefully on March 6th after a long illness. He was surrounded by family and under the wonderful care of the staff at Our Lady’s Hospice, Harold’s Cross.

He will be deeply missed by his wife and best friend Judy (née Higginbotham). Sadly missed by his children Jilly, Robbie, Amy and Katie, sister Vivien, brother Peter; mother-in-law Sheila, sons-in-law Ross, Reggie and Blake, and daughter-in-law Hilda, grandchildren Robyn, Kai, Jesse, Dylan, Alana, Ava, Cooper and Eily, the extended family, relatives and friends.

Monkstown RFC, early 1970s

In 1972 Sligo 1st team won the Connacht Junior League and Sligo 2nd team won the Connacht Junior B League. Stuart had played with Sligo for many years previous and in 1972, came back from Dublin to play for the 2nd team and earn himself and his club a Connacht medal.  He was popular with all the players and later became a very prominent member in Monkstown RFC, as both a player and committee person.  Stuart’s father Bob had served on the Sligo RFC committee and been Honorary Secretary of the Club in the 1970’s. Following his untimely death in 1977, the then new club grounds in Strandhill were named ‘Hamilton Park’ in his honour.

A Service to give thanks for Stuart’s long and full life will be held on Saturday, March 9th at 11 am in St Matthew’s Church, Irishtown. Family flowers only. If wished, donations to the Irish Hospice Foundation and the Irish Cancer Society in memory of Stuart.

‘Sunset and the evening star and one clear call for me. May there be no mourning at the bar when I put out to sea.’

Monkstown FC

Epic Win by J1A Team

Sligo Development Team  11  –  Creggs  7

Such was the passion shown on the second pitch in Hamilton Park, that you could be forgiven for assuming that it was a cup final between Sligo and Creggs RFC and not a standard league game.  For the Sligo Development team, this was a fight for survival in the J1A league, as only a win would suffice.  Second placed Creggs RFC, have been in impressive form all season and contest the Connacht Junior Cup final in two weeks’ time.  The last time these two sides met, it was the visitors who had an emphatic 32-12 over Sligo, so there was no doubt that the home side had a huge battle on their hands.

Sligo Development team’s Tom Gormley and Michael Mc Morrow double team a Creggs player

From the first whistle, it was apparent that Sligo would be leaving nothing on the pitch. First blood went to the home side, when Sean Mullin punched through the Creggs’ defence at speed and touched down to the right of the posts.  The visitors upped the pressure, but the Sligo defence stayed strong and it was Enda Gavin’s penalty that stretched the lead for Sligo, much to the delight of the large home crowd.  Just before half time, Creggs went through the phases and worked the ball out wide.  A perfectly-timed ankle tap, by full back Donal Brady, seemed to have prevented a certain try, but the offload found its target and the big Creggs second row crossed the line to touch down under the posts and the subsequent conversion brought the score to 8-7.

Sligo Development players Sean Mullin, Charlie Cooper and Enda Gavin stop Creggs in their tracks
Sligo Development players Sean Mullin, Charlie Cooper and Enda Gavin stop Creggs in their tracks

A nerve-wracking second half saw the home side stretch their lead to a mere 4 points, but they were under pressure to clear their lines and Creggs threatened to end the cup atmosphere on the side line.  However, a resolute Sligo defence never cracked and their dominance in both the scrum and lineout allowed them to retain possession, go through the phases and run the clock down.  The final whistle was met with joyous scenes both on and off the pitch, as the Sligo Development team avoided the relegation playoffs and finished the season in 5th place.

The next outing for the Development team is in Hamilton Park next Sunday, 10th March, when they take on Ballinrobe in the semi final of the Junior Plate.