Sligo Gulls 10 – Carrick-on-Shannon 23
Hamilton Park played host to the quarter-final of the Ard na Cregg Cup last Saturday afternoon, when the Sligo Gulls, the third senior team in Sligo RFC took on J2 League Winners Carrick-on-Shannon. The visitors were the hot favourites to win through to the semi-final and Sligo’s odds had lengthened even more with the news that several influential players were unavailable for selection due to absence and injury.
The home side took the lead after 10minutes, when fullback Eoin Mc Cormack slotted home a well-struck penalty. Carrick piled on the pressure and responded with an equalising penalty 3minutes later. The Gulls’ defence continued to be tested and strong running from the visitors resulted in two tries and a conversion to bring the score to 3-15 at half-time.
The Gulls came out fighting in the second half and gave a great display of solid rugby, with the pack securing possession and setting up the backline for some determined running. Carrick found themselves on the backfoot for the opening 20minutes and the pressure led to a succession of penalties. Sligo opted to run the ball each time, exerting even more pressure on the visitors and a yellow card was eventually issued for persistent offences. The vocal home crowd did their best to get their team over the line, but a solid Carrick defence refused to crack, and some impressive clearance kicks finally relieved the pressure and brought the play into the Sligo 22. The home side were caught offside and Carrick added another 3points from a penalty in front of posts.
The Gulls were dominant from the restart and once again piled on the pressure. Darragh Mc Elhinney controlled the pace of the game, with quick ball from the back of the ruck. Strong ball-carrying from Niall Cawley, Dermot Kiely and Gary Golden tested the Carrick defence and Sligo’s determination and never-say-die attitude was eventually rewarded when Jamie Gerrity crashed over for a well-deserved try, much to the delight of the now-raucous home supporters. Eoin McCormack added the extras to put 8points between the sides, with only 5minutes left on the clock.
Pressure from the restart, resulted in a penalty for Carrick and having been dominant in the lineout throughout the game, they kicked for touch. A strong maul from the big Carrick pack, set up a ruck on the Sligo 5m line and the pack picked the ball and drove over the line for the final score of the game.
This may have been the Gulls’ final game of the season but it marks the start of a new era in senior rugby for Sligo RFC. It has been 35years since the Club last fielded three senior competitive teams. Great credit must go to coaches Podge Johnson and Clive Morris, as well as team manager Declan Lynch. Nearly 30 players were part of the Gulls’ squad this year, a mixture of young players who have come up though the youths’ system, complete novices to the game and many experienced players, with a real love for rugby. Jamie Gerrity finished the season as top try scorer (6 tries) with David Cummins coming in second (4tries). Well done to all involved.
Sligo Gulls: Christophe Perrott, Andreas Probst (c) James Tansey, Michael Healy, Niall Cawley, Jordan Sexton, Peter Walpole, Gary Golden, Mark Harte, Darren Harte, Jean De Rouge, Sean McVeigh, David Cummins, Callum McLoughlin, Eoin McCormack, Andrew Kerr, Dermot Kiely, Thomas McBride, Vincent Reynolds, Podge Johnson