Sligo 8 :: Corinthians 3
Sligo defeated all-Ireland league finalists Corinthians in the Connacht U-18 Cup in Hamilton Park on Sunday last. Played in ideal conditions, this was a very keenly contested, competitive game, with Sligo proving to be very worthy winners.
When these two sides met recently in the league, Corinthians were victorious on a 17-15 score-line. As a result of that victory, and a fixtures log-jam, the Galway City side were nominated by the Connacht Branch to represent the province in the all-Ireland semi-final. They subsequently won that tie, but were defeated in the all-Ireland final. Last Sunday’s game was the ideal opportunity for Sligo to avenge that defeat, and they certainly availed of it.
Sligo’s cause received a setback before the game, as Jason East was unavailable due to squad training with the Ireland Youths U-18’s. However, the entire team raised their game, and Sligo would not have been flattered if they had won by a wider margin.
Corinthians opened strongly, and they forced three early penalties, all of which they opted to run. Sligo’s defence was steadfast, with the tackling around the fringes of the rucks outstanding. The back-row of Tadgh Power, Ross Lucey and Daniel Bergin were particularly effective at the break-down. Gradually Sligo started to assert themselves, with their line-out performing very well. In this department, Cian Gallagher and Eamonn Keane starred, with Craig Cooper’s line throwing also excellent. Sligo’s scrum was very strong, with props Richard Henry and Philip Allen anchoring well, and providing a strong front row with hooker, Cooper.
Behind the scrum, Sligo had two excellent play makers in half-backs, Cathal Sheridan and Keelan Cawley. Connacht U-20 player, Sheridan, provided his out-half with a consistent crisp and accurate service, and varied his game well, with some typical sniping runs. Cawley has an outstanding kicking game, and also got his line moving well. Like his half-back partner, he looks destined to a bright future in the game. 16 year old Rory Kerins was another Sligo star, making some terrific attacking breaks, and executing some crunching tackles. His centre partner, Cian McCann, also performed very well. Both wingers, Stuart O’Brien and Ben Percival, defended very well and ran the ball at every opportunity. At full-back, Brendan Glynn handled safely and timed his incursions into the line well.
Sligo led by 3-0 at the interval, with out-half Keelan Cawley landing a 35 metre penalty. Scrum-half Cathal Sheridan scored the vital try 10 minutes from time, when following a ruck 10 metres from the Corinthians’ line, he out-foxed the cover by breaking on the blind, and dived over, to extend the lead to 8-0. Although the losers replied with a penalty with 5 minutes remaining to reduce the deficit to 8-3, Sligo attacked from the restart, and following some sustained pressure, were unlucky not to have scored another try, as their maul was just held up on the line.
Overall, a great performance from Sligo, and the result was a just reward for the hard work and dedication of coaches Roy Cooper and Kieran Foley all season.
Sligo: Brendan Glynn, Stuart O’Brien, Cian McCann, Rory Kerins, Ben Percival, Keelan Cawley, Cathal Sheridan [c.], Richard Henry, Craig Cooper, Philip Allen, Cian Gallagher, Eamonn Keane, Tadgh Power, Ralph Lucey, Daniel Bergin. Sub:Peter Ryder for T.Power [blood]. Not Used: Richard O’Boyle, Michael Brennan, Jonathan Higgins.
Referee:Dr. Peter McCarthy [UCG]