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.
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.
Sligo RFC 17 – Greystones RFC 3
Sligo’s push for a playoff spot in AIL division 2B continued with an excellently crafted victory over second placed Greystones at Hamilton Park on Saturday. Having shipped a heavy defeat in the reverse match earlier in the season, Sligo were determined to make amends and an all action performance proved too much for the visitors to handle as the home team ran in three try’s while keeping their own line intact.
Despite the early in the day torrential rain, Hamilton Park was in good condition when the teams took to the field. The strong gusting winds made handling difficult but both sides adapted and tried to put width on the ball from the off. The visitors owned the early possession but Sligo’s defence stood strong and strong tackling from Sean Wynne and Man of the Match Kuba Wojtkowicz eventually led to Sligo winning possession. With almost their first opportunity Sligo ran a sweeping right to left move. Right winger Calum Goddard popped up in centre field and added pace to the move before releasing his comrade on the left Phillip Carter. Carter pinned his ears back and beat the covering defence to touch down on the left to open the Sligo account.
Greystones were stung into action and worked their way back into Sligo territory, the Sligo tackling was strong and despite the best efforts of the visitors, the line remained intact and Greystones had to be content with a three pointer from a penalty in front of the Sligo posts.
The match ebbed and flowed until half time with Sligo taking the break holding on to a two point lead.
Following the resumption Sligo turned into the stiff breeze knowing that holding possession was vital to the outcome of the match. Shane O’Hehir was linking superbly with Rob Holian and Diarmuid O’Dowd Hill at the lineout and Tom Gormely and Conor Mitchell were causing havoc at the set scrum. Ciaran Cassidy was carrying with intent and Matt Davey was a dynamo In the loose. Player coach Jason East was using all his experience to lead by example with some excellent carries and vital tackles.
Ten minutes in Sligo pulled further ahead. O’Hehir found O’Dowd Hill at a lineout on the ‘Stones 22. The flanker drove through the lineout before East carried further into the red zone. Scrum Half Ryan Feehily picked out centre Jack Keegan whose excellent line carved open the defence and raced to the line to pick up Sligo’s second try. The centre popped over the conversion and Sligo were nine points clear.
Sligo sensed a victory and pushed hard to ram the advantage home. The cultured boots of outhalf Mark Butler and fullback Niall Gray put play in the ‘stones half. Powerhouse centre Matele Fifita collected on the visitors 22 and drove down the left hand side swatting defenders out of his way before being hauled down close to the line. Sligo regrouped and patiently carried to the line before O’Dowd Hill forced the ball over for Sligo’s third try of the day.
The visitors again tried to respond but the locals well organised defence proved impenetrable and when referee Rob Watson blew the long whistle Sligo were celebrating having kept their line intact for two weeks in a row.
Sligo now sit in fourth place in Division 2B of the All Ireland League. Come the end of the season, the second,third and fourth placed teams in the 2B along with the second last placed team in division 2A will play off for a spot in division 2A so with 4 games to go Sligo’s destiny is in their own hands and a promotion is within reach.
Next week Sligo travel east to IRFU headquarters to battle Wanderers at the back pitch in the Aviva Stadium. Sligo will be looking to continue their recent form which has seen victory in 6 of the last 8 outings. The match kicks off at 2.30.
Sligo: Niall Gray, Calum Goddard, Jack Keegan, Matele Fifita, Philip Carter, Mark Butler, Ryan Feehily (Co-Capt) , Kuba Wojtkowicz, Shane O’ Hehir ( Co-Capt) Jason East, Rob Holian, Ciaran Cassidy, Diarmuid O’Dowd Hill, Sean Wynne, Matt Davey. Reps Conor Mitchell, Tom Gormely, Jake Sexton, Enda Gavin, Brendan Cunningham.
MU Barnhall RFC 25 – Sligo RFC 17
Sligo travelled to Kildare last Saturday for their third All Ireland League match of the season to take on table toppers MU Barnhall. The home outfit were sitting pretty on top of the Division 2B table with maximum points from the first two rounds, but Sligo had shown their mettle with a bonus point win over a fancied Dungannon outfit the previous week and were well up for the task of challenging the league leaders.
Storm Callum may have abated but the match day conditions proved tricky with a heavy drizzle making handling difficult for both sides despite an excellent track underfoot. Sligo opened well and dominated the early exchanges. The first opportunity for points came with a penalty award in front of the Barnhall posts but Sligo turned down the kick and opted for the scrum. The locals dug in and forced the penalty and the chance to open the scoring was lost.
The home team made the most of the reprieve and worked their way up the park and with virtually their first foray into Sligo territory, a sustained period of pick and drives resulted in Barnhall’s opening try. Continue reading
Sligo RFC 33 – Dungannon RFC 25
Sligo picked up their first win of the 2018/19 All Ireland League campaign with a bonus point victory over a strong Dungannon outfit at Hamilton park on Saturday. Sligo scored five trys to the visitors three, securing the all important try bonus point and sending their visitors home with nothing to show for their effort.
Playing towards the airport end Sligo kicked off and an excellent challenge from Phillip Carter secured early possession for the hosts. Sligo looked to move the ball through the phases with Rob Holian and Jason Havea carrying well in the opening exchanges. But despite Sligo having the lions share of possession early on it was the visitors that struck first when a sweeping backline move culminated in a touchdown in the left corner.
The conversion drifted wide but Dungannon increased their advantage with a penalty from the Sligo 22 with ten minutes on the clock.
Sligo knuckled down and worked their way back into the game. Shane O’Hehir was successfully hitting the target at the lineout, Matt Davey was a menace in open play and the returning Mata Fifita was lording the midfield battle.
Sligo opened their account with fifteen minutes gone. A well worked move opened up the Dungannon defence and Ryan Feehily finished under the posts. Niall Gray converted and Sligo were within a point.
Sligo continued to press and took the lead with twenty-five minutes gone. Mark Butler expertly placed a penalty into the left corner. The forwards took over drove for the line with Shane Boyle on hand to touch down. Gray struck an excellent conversion and Sligo were ahead by six.
Sligo moved further ahead five minutes later. An excellent backline left to right movement gave Calum Goddard the chance to use his blistering pace to scorch the defence and race to the line for Sligo’s third of the day and move the score to 19-8.
With five minutes left in the half Dungannon struck back with a converted try on the right from a powerful driving maul to move within four of Sligo. The visitors had their tails up and looked to take the lead before the interval. A penalty award positioned play five yards from the Sligo line. A series of scrums ensued with the powerful Dungannon scrum putting huge pressure on the Sligo eight. The home scrum stood firm however, and forced the concession of a penalty and Sligo went into the break in front.
The northerners purple patch continued after the break with a try out wide with eight minutes played, earning a one point lead,but Sligo hit back immediately when Feehily intercepted a long pass in the 22 and raced in under the posts. Gray converted and Sligo were up by six and the try bonus point was secured.
With fifteen minutes remaining Sligo hit again. A penalty on the 10 metre line was dispatched to the corner and a well worked lineout move allowed powerhouse prop Kuba Wojtkowicz the chance to drive over the defence and touch down left of the posts. Grays conversion pushed Sligo’s total to thirty three and importantly a two score lead with ten left on the clock.
The visitors rallied for one last effort and were rewarded with a late score out wide but it proved to be just a consolation score as the missed conversion was the last act of an excellent game of rugby football.
Next for Sligo is trip eastwards to take on table toppers NUIM Barnhall. The Sligo confidence will be high but a huge effort will be required to earn success at Parsonstown. The match kicks off at 2.30 on Saturday.
Sligo Niall Gray, Calum Goddard, Ryan Feehily (co-captain), Mata Fifita, Philip Carter, Mark Butler, Brendan Cunningham, Kuba Wojtkowicz, Shane O’Hehir, Thomas Gormely, Jason Havea, Rob Holian, Shane Boyle, Matt Davey, Ross Hickey. Reps. Ross O’Boyle, Conor Mitchell, Ciaran Cassidy, Christian Nielsen, Enda Gavin.
Sundays Well RFC 20 – Sligo RFC 17
Sligo travelled south to take on Cork city natives Sundays Well in the opening match of the 2018/19 Ulster Bank League division 2B campaign, but had to settle for a losing bonus point, as the Leesiders ran out winners by 3 points in a closely fought contest at Independent Park on Saturday.
Playing on the recently installed 4G pitch with ideal conditions for open rugby the home team kicked off but it was Sligo who dominated the early exchanges. Sligo’s game plan of keeping width on the ball and moving the physical Sundays Well pack around the park gained reward with a well struck Niall Gray penalty after 8 minutes to open the scoring.
The Cork men responded from the restart and put pressure on Sligo’s exit plan and a blocked clearance kick was collected by the home team and the opening try was conceded by the visitors. The successful conversion put the score at 7-3 with 12 minutes gone.
Sligo knuckled down and worked their way back into the game. Strong carries from Kuba Wojtkowicz, Thomas Gormley and Rob Holian put Sligo in position in the ‘Well 22 and the ball was moved quickly left to right through the hands of Mark Butler, Ryan Feehily and Enda Gavin allowing Philip Carter the chance to squeeze in at the corner.
Niall gray superb touchline conversion gave Sligo a 3 point advantage with 25 minutes gone.
Sligo’s lead only lasted for 5 minutes as the ‘Well equalised on the half hour with a penalty from in front of the Sligo posts. Unfortunately for Sligo the influential Diarmuid O’Dowd Hill had to retire at this point with a hamstring injury.
Just before the break Sligo struck again with a superb score. With Sundays Well applying pressure in the visitors 22, Sligo opted to move the ball wide to the right. Calum Goddard received on the wing and rounded his man to bring play to the half way before linking with Feehily. Feehily carried into the home 22 before linking up with supporting scrum half Brendan Cunningham who raced in under the posts to recapture the lead for Sligo. Grays successful conversion was the final action of the first half.
Sundays well regained parity with 55 minutes gone with a try and conversion following a sustained period of pressure in the Sligo 22 before a penalty in the 65 minute moved the Leesiders ahead and proved to be the final score of an entertaining encounter.
While coaches Paddy Pearson and Jason East will be disappointed with the loss, the losing bonus point is a valuable gain and comfort will be taken with the fact their charges demonstrated that they are well capable of competing at this level.
Sligo Niall Gray, Calum Goddard, Ryan Feehily, Enda Gavin, Philip Carter, Mark Butler, Brendan Cunningham, Kuba Wojtkowicz, Shane O’Hehir, Tom Gormley, Ciaran Cassidy, Rob Holian, Shane Boyle, Diarmuid O’Dowd Hill, Jason Havea, reps: Craig Adams, Ross O’Boyle, Matt Davey, Ross Hickey, Sean Mullin, Christian Nielsen
This Saturday, 14th April at 2.30pm, the final league game of the season goes down to the wire, with the top two teams, both on 51 points after 17 games, scheduled to play each other, to decide who gets the one automatic qualifying spot to get into Division 2B of the Ulster Bank All-Ireland League.
This fixture is like something out of a Hollywood movie, complete with all the bad clichés and catchphrases. It really is a case of winner takes all. Sligo have home advantage and are hoping for a huge turnout from their supporters. Free entry for all under 18s, adults €5.
In the wake of the highly successful Strictly Sligo Rugby fundraiser, anyone who shows a Strictly Sligo Rugby programme will also get free admission.
The final pre-match lunch of the season is at 1p.m. at a cost of €20p.p., which includes complimentary wine and entry to the match. Places are limited, so contact John on 087 6212414 to book your place. There will be a cheese reception post-match, complete with prosecco bar, followed by live music with Dean Mahon.
This promises to be the clash of the titans and one match you do not want to miss.
Malahide RFC 32 – Sligo RFC 34
Sligo moved back to the top of the Ulster Bank League division 2c going into the final game with a, five trys to four, two point margin victory over a powerful Malahide outfit in an enthralling encounter on Saturday. Sligo came out on top in an incredible game in which the lead changed hands seven times and will long be remembered in the minds of the large travelling Sligo support.
With the Malahide home ground at Estuary road declared unplayable, the match was moved to the excellent all weather surface at Belvedere College which was ideally suited for fast running rugby and it certainly didn’t disappoint.
Malahide, with former Ireland International Mike Ross in the front row and ex Guinness pro 12 winner Danny Poolman lining out in the centre, kicked off into the Sligo pack. Sligo gathered and immediately took the fight to their hosts. The early exchanges were intense with both sides testing their defensive opposites before Sligo made the initial breakthrough on the 7th minute.