Such was the passion shown on the second pitch in Hamilton Park, that you could be forgiven for assuming that it was a cup final between Sligo and Creggs RFC and not a standard league game. For the Sligo Development team, this was a fight for survival in the J1A league, as only a win would suffice. Second placed Creggs RFC, have been in impressive form all season and contest the Connacht Junior Cup final in two weeks’ time. The last time these two sides met, it was the visitors who had an emphatic 32-12 over Sligo, so there was no doubt that the home side had a huge battle on their hands.
From the first whistle, it was apparent that Sligo would be leaving nothing on the pitch. First blood went to the home side, when Sean Mullin punched through the Creggs’ defence at speed and touched down to the right of the posts. The visitors upped the pressure, but the Sligo defence stayed strong and it was Enda Gavin’s penalty that stretched the lead for Sligo, much to the delight of the large home crowd. Just before half time, Creggs went through the phases and worked the ball out wide. A perfectly-timed ankle tap, by full back Donal Brady, seemed to have prevented a certain try, but the offload found its target and the big Creggs second row crossed the line to touch down under the posts and the subsequent conversion brought the score to 8-7.
A nerve-wracking second half saw the home side stretch their lead to a mere 4 points, but they were under pressure to clear their lines and Creggs threatened to end the cup atmosphere on the side line. However, a resolute Sligo defence never cracked and their dominance in both the scrum and lineout allowed them to retain possession, go through the phases and run the clock down. The final whistle was met with joyous scenes both on and off the pitch, as the Sligo Development team avoided the relegation playoffs and finished the season in 5th place.
The next outing for the Development team is in Hamilton Park next Sunday, 10th March, when they take on Ballinrobe in the semi final of the Junior Plate.
The Sligo Junior team travelled to Creggs last Saturday in Round 7 of the Connacht J1A league. They were met by a determined home side, who are now only 5 points off league-leaders Connemara. The sides remained scoreless until the 25th minute, when Creggs crossed the whitewash, but failed to convert their efforts and add the extra 2 points. A second try came only 10 minutes later to bring the score to 12-0 at half-time. Creggs continued with their barrage and the home side added a subsequent 2 tries without reply. A Robbie Ryan intercept try finally got Sligo on the scoreboard, but it was a case of too little, too late, Creggs 24, Sligo 7.
Sligo’s dream of capturing the 2018 Connacht Junior Cup fell short with defeat to a strong Ballina outfit in the final at the Sportsgrounds in Galway on Sunday afternoon.
With Ballina having already secured the Junior league title and a place in the All Ireland League qualifying round robin series Sligo entered the game as rank outsiders. Despite the underdog status Sligo started the game brightly and strong carrying from Jamie Bowes and Ross Hickey was causing trouble in the Ballina defence. The early scrums were strong with Ross O’Boyle and Craig Adams proving a handful and David Cawley and Christian Nielsen were effective in the loose. Continue reading →
Sligo Development Team went down fighting in the local derby against J1A table-toppers Ballina RFC. It was an early start to a Sunday morning, with an 11a.m. kick-off. The pitch conditions reflected the effects of the heavy rains from the previous 24 hours, but the Ballina grounds had no lying water and the referee deemed the pitch playable. From the whistle, it was obvious that there would be a high count on handling errors, but it was Ballina who adjusted best to the conditions and they were 14-3 ahead after 25 minutes. Sligo piled on the pressure but failed to capitalise on their possession and it was Ballina who added to their tally again just before half-time, bringing the score to 19-3.
The home-side were quick to extend their lead in the second half with an intercept try in the opening minute. Scrummaging was proving difficult as the conditions on the muddy pitch continued to deteriorate but it was Sligo who best adapted to this and Ballina were penalised for their many infringements around the scrum. The away-side stuck to their game plan of pushing up in defence and this tactic finally paid off, with a spectacular intercept try by Matt Kavanagh from within his own 22, which was duly converted by the trusty boot of Niall Gray. However, the many handling errors on both sides continued to mar any hope of a free-flowing game and possession flitted from one side to the other. Ballina continued to drive forward and despite the heroic tackling of Sligo’s Charlie Cooper and Mattie Davey, the home side added a further two tries in the closing minutes of the game, to bring the final score to 38-10. It was a tough learning curve for the young Sligo side, who will undoubtedly improve on today, intent on providing a more consistent 80 minute performance in future games. They remain third in the league and travel to Galwegians next Sunday to try and cement their position above Buccaneers in the J1A Connacht League.
Sligo: Craig Adams, Ross O’ Boyle, Aaron Tansey, Liam Mc Elhinney, James Mc Guinness, Christian Neilsen, Ross Hickey, Mattie Davey, Jake Sexton, Enda Gavin, Niall Gray, Matt Kavanagh, Charlie Cooper, Sean Mullin, Niall O’Hara, Stewart O’Brien, Hugh Kinsbyugh Hu
Sligo and Galwegians took to the field in Hamilton Park in truly dreadful conditions. A strong wind and driving rain, coupled with lower temperatures made handling conditions difficult. Galwegians played with the wind in the opening half but it was Sligo who kept the ball in hand, winning a penalty after 7 minutes. Outhalf Niall Gray coolly slotted the ball over for the opening score of the game. Galwegians got the opportunity to equalise 10 minutes later. Having the wind behind the ball, the visiting outhalf landed an impressive penalty kick just short of the half-way line. The hardy supporters who had braved the weather had only 8 minutes to wait until Jake Sexton crossed the line after a well-worked move. Gray duly converted to bring the score to 10-3. Galwegians proved hard to break down and neither side were able to add to their tally before the half time whistle.
The second half was fast and furious, with end to end rugby. Both teams going through the phases, but it was the home team that retained the most possession and capitalised on the opposition’s infringements. The golden boot of Gray added a further two penalties in the 47th and 59th minutes. Galwegians finished the game strongly but Sligo’s defence held fast and the visitors failed to add to their first half score. The final whistle was welcomed by players and supporters alike, as all were keen to get out of the bitter wind.
Sligo’s all-round team performance has ensured their progression in the Connacht Heineken Junior Cup and they will meet Ballinrobe RFC in the quarter-final.
Sligo Development Squad: Craig Adams, Ross O’Boyle, James Mc Guinness, David Cawley, David Heath, Ross Hickey, Mattie Davey, Jake Sexton, Gary O’Hehir, Niall Gray, Charlie Cooper, Sean Mullin, Gavin Foley, Stuart O’Brien, James Gavin, Aaron Tansey, Liam Mc Elhinney, Michael Mc Morrow, Christian Neilsen, Matthew Kavanagh
It was doubtful whether the game would go ahead last Sunday, with weather conditions not being so conducive to rugby, but Sligo made the journey to a picturesque Westport and succeeded in securing their second win over the experienced home side.
Niall Gray was once again wearing his golden boots, slotting home the first two scores of the game. Liam McElhinney added to his side’s tally with a well-worked try, which was duly converted by Gray. The home team failed to put any points on the score board and the half-time score was 13-0.
Another penalty from the accurate boot of Gray brought Sligo to a 16 point lead. However, it was Westport who finished strongly against a tiring Sligo side, scoring two successive unconverted tries, which led to a tense final 12 minutes of the game. Sligo held on for another impressive win in the arctic conditions of a bitterly cold Westport pitch.
Sligo RFC Development XV 24 – Monivea RFC 1st XV15
Following the nail-biting finish to last week’s game, that saw the favoured home team of Monivea beaten by 2 points, this week’s return leg promised to be a cracker, and the many home fans were not disappointed.
It was a tense affair in a cold and wet Monivea, as Sligo Development team were hoping to secure their fourth win of the season. Playing Monivea at home is never an easy affair and this game was no exception. The first score went to the away team from a determined Sligo scrum. Persistent infringements by Monivea resulted in the referee awarding a penalty try. Andrew Blannin quickly added to the tally with a try of his own, but Sligo’s lead was chipped away and they found themselves 15-12 down at half time. The score remained deadlocked for the majority of the second half, with neither side giving an inch. However, it was Sligo who eventually broke through the Monivea defence. Led by captain Gary O’ Hehir, Sligo showed great patience and composure and a well-executed move set up Sean Wynne, Man of the Match, to score in the corner, ensuring the narrow victory for the away team. This was a great team performance, bolstered by the senior debut of Christian Nielson in the back row.
The return leg of this fixture will take place this Sunday at 2.30p.m. in Hamilton Park. This promises to be a real battle as Sligo hope to secure another back-to-back win. All support welcome.