Sligo 29 :: UCG 19
Sligo completed their Connacht Junior 1 league campaign under lights at Ballyhaunis RFC on Tuesday last when they defeated UCG. Despite agreeing to a UCG request to postpone the original fixture last December, because the students were then sitting their end of semester examinations, Sligo were forced to play this tie by the Connacht Branch, a mere 48 hours after their game with Ballina. They were also forced to concede home advantage against a side which had no game on Sunday.
Showing the effects of their exertions in Ballina, Sligo opened in a lethargic fashion, so it was no surprise that UCG made all the early running. Two tries in the first 18 minutes put the students 12-0 ahead. However, Sligo gradually began to assert themselves, and a try from winger, Steven Connolly, followed by another from No.8, Jamie Livingstone, just before the break, reduced the deficit to 12-10 at the interval.
Sligo’s performance greatly improved after the restart, and following some sustained pressure, full-back, David Gerrity crossed for a try after 5 minutes, which he converted himself, to give his side the lead [17-12] for the first time. With their pack now in control, Sligo went in search of a bonus point earning fourth try. This duly arrived after 14 minutes, when following good continuity play, inside centre, Gavin Foley scored a fine try, with Gerrity again converting, to stretch the lead to 24-12. A further try from wing-forward, Gary Conneally, after the pack had mauled over the line, put the result beyond all doubt.
Sligo understandably tired in the closing 10 minutes and allowed UCG back into the game, and the losers’ efforts were rewarded with a third try, which they also converted, to reduce the margin to 10 points.
Despite achieving a bonus point, Sligo were just pipped by Westport for the runner-up position to league winners, Monivea, and must settle for third position and a place in next season’s AIB all-Ireland Junior Cup draw. UCG, the oldest club in the province, are relegated, and next season will play their rugby in the Connacht Junior League [Division 2].
Sligo: D.Gerrity, S.Connolly, A.Feeney, G.Foley,J.Rippon,R.Burrows,B.Leahy,R.Gillespie,R.Mannion,M.Feeney,A.McHale,P.Mullan [c.],A.Williams,J.Livingstone,G.Conneally.Subs.:T.Sweeney for S.Connolly,J.Kelly for M.Feeney,A.Tansey for R.Mannion.