Last Sunday morning in Strandhill after heavy rain all night the possibility of a game of rugby looked bleak due to water present on the pitch.
Sligo RFC were due to face Ballyhaunis. This game was were the league challengers meet a bottom of the league team hungry for a win so the game was moved to The Grammar School pitch. This was a generous gesture by Sligo Grammar school who have a great history in Sligo Rugby.
This was another must win game for the Sligo Development side who are now at the hard end of the season, where all match outcomes are critical for any team with promotion prospects. Sligo see themselves as potential league winners.
Ballyhaunis kicked off into what turned out to be a surprisingly dry afternoon for most of the game but the kick didn’t make the full 10 meters but play was allowed to continue with Ballyhaunis attacking into the Sligo 25 meter area. An early penalty awarded to Ballyhaunis went wide of the posts. So Sligo kicked off and after good work by the Sligo pack led by Captain McMorrow, Matt Davey scored a try on 11 minutes converted by Enda Gavin. Sligo 7-0. The game was similar to the previous week in that a lot of errors were evident from both sides. After 35 minutes and pressure inside the Ballyhaunis half a quick ball from a ruck resulted in a fine try by Sean Mullin, supported by Enda Gavin and Stewart O’Brien. The pressure continued in the Ballyhaunis half and a well worked move saw Stewart O’Brien touching down under the posts and easily converted by the sure footed Enda Gavin. 19-0 to Sligo at half time.
The Sligo team despite the score line were becoming increasingly frustrated with their own play because Sligo were after the fourth try bonus point and the multiple stoppages were preventing the game from flowing.
Twenty minutes into the second half, Ballyhaunis were awarded a penalty which they converted, 19-3 to Sligo .
Sligo returned into the Ballyhaunis half and moved the ball wide away from the scrappy arm wrestle which had dominated this game so far and Sean Mullin scored a fine try which remained unconverted. 24-3, So with no further scores the game ended with Sligo gaining the win and an important bonus point. This was a very scrappy affair but as Coach Burrows stated ‘sometimes you win ugly, but it’s a win, and we need move on to next Sunday for the Corinthian league decider in Strandhill.
Team: Aaron Tansey, Ross O’Boyle, James O’Hehir, Thomas Gormley, Jake Sexton, David Bergin, Dave Cawley, Michael McMorrow (Captain), Gary O’Hehir, Enda Gavin, Sean Mullin, Matt Davey, Clive Morris, Brian Mullen, Stewart O’Brien, Gary Conneely, Liam McElhiney, Dermot Kiely, Jack Gormley, and Karl Van Rensburgh.
A full Sligo Development Squad travelled to Ballyhaunis in search of fifth league win. An air of expectation hung about the dressing room especially as Ballyhaunis were struggling so far in their matches.
Sligo started of with a power display by the pack with Michael Mcmorrow and Thomas Gomley leading from the front. The pack of Tansey, O’Boyle, Gormley, Carroll, Mitchell, Conneally, and Sexton were formidable and the first Sligo scrum set the play for what was too follow for the rest of the game. The Sligo scrum was dominant, powerful and forcing the Ballyhaunis scrum backwards. After a fifteen minutes of Sligo pressure but with no score Ballyhaunis strayed into the Sligo half and scored a try which they converted. This was against the run of play and was the wake up call required.