Sligo 22 – Claremorris 19
A last gasp try by Jasmine Morgan was enough to put the Sligo U16 Girls into the Connacht Cup semi-final and continue their incredible debut year in rugby.
Having beaten Buccaneers in the preliminary round of the Cup, Sligo, the U16 Division 2 league runners-up, knew they were undoubtedly the underdogs in this cup tie, as they were taking on Claremorris RFC U16 Girls who came 3rd in the Division 1 league.
Sligo management had made several changes in the back line with the new partnership of Enya Hughes at scrum half and out half Bebhinn Harte combining well with Mia Clinch in first centre. It was the home side who started the stronger, dominating at the break down and set the tone for the cup clash when winger Cliodhna O’Sullivan opened the scoring with a try in the corner. She then slotted home a difficult conversion from the touch line to put Sligo 7 points up.
Claremorris responded within minutes with a score of their own but failed to add the extras. Sligo were impressive with their strong running and support play and it was full back Emma Cox who scored her team’s second try to bring the score to 12-5 at half-time. Claremorris came out all guns blazing in the second half and eventually levelled the scores. Sligo responded again and Cliodhna O’Sullivan ran in her second try of the game. In typical Cup fashion, there was still lots of drama to play out. The pack were dominant in securing rucks and strong, hard running from Jasmine Morgan, Jenny Cregg, Giselle Gallagher, Hannah Walsh-Kerins, Teresa Devaney and Grace Molloy gained valuable ground for the home side. A persistent rain made playing conditions difficult and the greasy surface resulted in handling errors on both sides. The visitors showed their experience and continued to pressure the Sligo defence and were eventually rewarded for their patience, when they dotted down under the posts and converted the try to go 2points ahead with only 5minutes left on the clock. Possession changed hands several times as the clock counted down, but it was the Division 2 team who showed passion and determination to work their way up to the Claremorris 5m line and win a penalty for an infringement in the ruck. The referee called last play of the game and Sligo knew they had one last chance to seal the win. Jasmine Morgan took the ball on and her pack drove her over the try line for a magnificent win.
The Sligo girls read the game well, showing a lot of imagination throughout, changing the plays and their positional kicking proving problematic for Claremorris. There was outstanding play and great heart shown throughout the game. Bebhinn Harte had the back line well organised with Mia Clinch calling the line breaks. The Man of the Match accolade must go to full back Emma Cox for her determined running with the ball, defensive positioning and high tackle rate.
Sligo U16 Girls are the only Division 2 team left in the Cup and their historic semi-final Cup tie is scheduled for 16th February against either Corinthians RFC or Portumna/Loughrea. Sligo U16 Girls: Giselle Gallagher, Jasmine Morgan, Jenny Cregg, Teresa Devaney, Hannah Walsh-Kerins, Grace Molloy, Lara Lopez, Enya Hughes (c), Cliodhna O’ Sullivan, Katelyn Benson, Mia Clinch, Bebhinn Harte, Cria Flanagan, Emma Cox, Clare Keegan, Brid Madden