Sligo 19 :: Corinthians 16
Sligo’s 1st team opened their Connacht Junior 1 League campaign in convincing fashion, when they defeated Corinthians in an exciting game, at Hamilton Park on Sunday last. The game was played in ideal, albeit chilly conditions, which were conducive to a free flowing game.
Sligo had a slight advantage in the forward exchanges, with their scrum, maul and line-out performing well, so the Corinthians’ pack were under constant pressure. The Galway side fielded a sprightly back line, and their principal tactic was to move the ball wide at every opportunity. However, the Sligo defensive line was very effective and they withstood some last ditch pressure to protect their line.
Indeed the game almost had a dramatic ending, as deep in injury time, Corinthians’ flying left winger, Kieran Dolan looked certain to touch down in the corner, but a superb covering tackle from full-back, Roger Burrows, forced him into touch at the corner flag, and saved the day for Sligo. It would have been a grave injustice if Sligo had not emerged victorious. In the 30th minute of the first half, they mauled over the Corinthians line and touched down for a clear-cut try, but the referee, Peter McCarthy, who was on the opposite side, and unsighted, ordered a 5 metre scrum, which proved to be fruitless.
Sligo opened strongly,and took the lead after 15 minutes with a try fit to grace any game. Winger Thomas Darcel made an incisive break, and following some deft handling by wing forward, Joe Sweeney, the ball was moved to right winger, Julian Rippon on the Corinthians’ ’22’. The winger executed a perfect chip over his opposite number, Steven Burke, and gathered the to cross at the corner, and then run in under the posts. Centre, Stuart Dorran added the points. Some poor handling from the restart gave the initiative back to Corinthians, and they converted a resultant penalty to bring the score to 7-3. Despite playing against the stiff breeze, Sligo continued to attack, and scored another try after 33 minutes. On this occasion, No. 8, Jamie Livingstone, picked from the base of a scrum, and fed scrum-half, Billy Leahy, who linked with his No. 10, Gavin Foley, who passed to outside centre, Stuart Dorran, and despite being tackled, the young Skreen man stretched and touched down. However, some indiscipline soon led to a Corinthians penalty, and their scrum-half, Colm Cowan landed the 48 metre wind assisted kick to reduce the margin to 12-6 at the break.
Despite having wind advantage, Sligo’s play at the start of the second half was error strewn, and within three minutes they conceded a try, which was scored by left winger, Kieran Dolan, to reduce arrears to 12-11. The game was now in the ‘melting pot’, and when scrum-half Leahy opted to run a kickable penalty and the move broke down, it looked ominous for Sligo, as Corinthians went on the offensive. However an attempted drop goal from their out-half, Barry O’Sullivan failed to find the target, so the home side got a reprieve. However, the respite was short lived. In the 22nd minute disaster struck, when Gavin Foley’s attempted clearance was charged down by Corinthians No. 9, Cowan, and he scored near the corner to give his side a 16-12 lead.
To their credit, Sligo responded well to this set-back, and in the 27th minute were back in front. Following a scrum near the Corinthians’ line, Sligo mauled the ball forward, and captain, Jamie Livingstone barged through to score. Stuart Dorran kicked an excellent conversion from the touch-line to put Sligo 19-16 ahead. In the 31st minute, Dorran had an opportunity to extend this lead, but his well struck 30 metre penalty drifted just wide.
The game ended in a welter of excitement, with Burrows’ excellent last minute tackle saving the day for Sligo. There was a number of top class individual displays from Sligo players, but overall, it was the side’s team- work and work ethic which saw them through. Peter Mullan had a big game in the second row, while Livingstone at No. 8 and loose head, Ronan Gillespie were also impressive. Gary Conneally’s line throwing was very accurate, while Adrian McHahe used his power well at tight head. As usual, Andrew Williams had a very industrious outing as Mullan’s partner in the second row. In the back row Joe Sweeney was having a storming game at open side, before moving to the wing to replace the injured Julian Rippon, while blind side, Simon Coulter was always in the centre of the action.
Behind the scrum, Sligo also performed well. Centre, Stuart Dorran, in his first Connacht J1 league game for the club, had a fine game, and scored an excellent try. His crucial touchline conversion of Livingstone’s try evoked memories of his uncle Pat Curran’s outstanding kicking on so many occasions for the club. Half backs Billy Leahy and Gavin Foley got through an amount of work and defended very well. Full-back, Roger Burrows had an eventful afternoon. Before half time, his indiscipline led to a sin binning, which could have proved costly to his team, but in the end he was the hero, following his match saving tackle on Dolan. Centre Cathal Culhane was rock solid in defence. Both wingers, Thomas Darcel and Julian Rippon did very well, as their pace and industry constantly worried the losers’ defence.
Sligo: Roger Burrows, Thomas Darcel, Stuart Dorran, Cathal Culhane, Julian Rippon, Gavin Foley, Billy Leahy, Ronan Gillespie, Gary Conneally, Adrian McHale, Andrew Williams, Peter Mullan, Simon Coulter, Jamie Livingstone[c.], Joe Sweeney.
Corinthians: E. Kilroy, S. Burke, W. Williams, K. Fouban, K. Dolan, B. O’Sullivan, C. Cowan, D. O’Neill, P. McGreavy, D. Small, S. Cantillon [c.], S. McInerney, D. Walsh, A. Pilkington, S. Curtoin.
Referee: Dr. Peter McCarthy [U.C.G.]