There was no joy for the Sligo girls in front of a big home crowd last Saturday in Hamilton Park. In their debut season, the Sligo U16 girls came up against the well-established Galway side, who amalgamated last year, and are currently top of the table in Division 2 of the Connacht U16 Girls league. The opening 10 minutes proved a shock for the visitors as Bebhinn Hart crossed the line to score the opening try of the game. Cliodhna O’ Sullivan stepped up to convert and coolly slotted the ball between the posts to give the home side a 7 point lead. Tuam/Oughterard quickly settled into the game and had a period of dominance, which resulted in three unanswered tries before the half-time whistle. Sligo’s coaching team of Gabriel Gormley, Michael Cox and Gavin Clinch, rallied their troops at the break and they came out all guns blazing, determined to alter the 7-15 score line. Sligo had 70% possession in the second half, with Tuam/Oughterard under pressure with every play, but the home side were unable to break through the experienced defence and a try, against the run of play, rewarded the visitors with the final score of the game.
Although the score line did not truly reflect the game, the Sligo team, playing in their 4th game of the season, can take great solace from the fact that they now lie 3rd in the table and are improving with every game. Many of Sligo’s players only took up rugby this September and Cria Flanagan, Jasmine Morgan and Grace Molloy were playing their first game for Sligo RFC on Saturday, joined by Teresa Devaney in her second game, with Grace Mulholland returning her first game of the season.
Girls’ rugby has gone from strength to strength in Sligo, with teams now competing from U10 to U18. The catchment area has also grown and players travel twice a week from as far afield as Manorhamilton, Tubbercurry, Coolaney and Drumcliff to join players from Carraroe, Cranmore, Sligo town and Strandhill. A big thanks to Petstop, who sponsor the club jerseys and for their continued support of girls’ rugby in Sligo. Training continues in the rugby club every Monday and Thursday 6.45 – 8pm, no previous experience is necessary. Contact Michael 086 3202244 for further details. Next game in the fixtures is away to Westport on 1st December.
Sligo U14 played Tuam for the first time. An important match for both – if Sligo lost Tuam would leapfrog Sligo in the league and possibly push Sligo out of a seeded position going into The Cup.
Refereed by Mr Nav Logan with a drizzly rain, Cleveragh Sports Grounds saw the game got off to a brisk start with exciting play from both teams. Tuam got a lucky bounce of the ball and seized the opportunity to score the first try. Play went from side to side until Sligo pushed on and got the opportunity through Dara Foy to score when he was tripped with a kick as he went to score Sligo’s first try. A penalty try was awarded and Sean Gilvarry converted with ease. This first half saw Sligo U14 find their ‘Ritchie McCaw’ in Olan Martin!
The second half saw continued strong pressure from Sligo that saw little of Tuam in the Sligo half during this period. Sligo continued to squeeze the Tuam squad on their try line and saw a penalty awarded and with a set piece put together by the players themselves Ewan Ripon crossed the line for five points. Great team play and forwards working hard saw a newly returned Fionn O’Hehir cross the line again for a 17 – 5 Sligo win. Next up Ballinasloe next weekend – another must win for the U14 Warriors!
Sligo Development Squad travelled to Tuam for a clash with league leaders Tuam RFC. There was an agreed late 3.15pm KO to enable all the Tuam players to be available. Sligo were hoping for a different result to the last time the two sides met when Sligo were well beaten. Sligo won the toss and Captain Ross O’Boyle chose to kick up the hill in the first half which on reflection was to be a critical decision.
Sligo started well holding Tuam in their half but were unable to score due to some rushed handling errors and impatience in front of the Tuam line but after 7 minutes, Sligo were awarded a penalty which Enda Gavin stepped up and scored, 3-0 to Sligo. Tuam a big physical side moved the ball well and their out half kicked for touch. Sligo’s defence which has become a very strong part of their game weathered the first storm of many and Pearson broke out of the Sligo 25 meter area ran the length of the pitch breaking a number of tackles then off loading to a rampant Shane Mitchell who carried the ball into the Tuam 25, forcing Tuam into an offside position to give Sligo another opportunity to score and Enda Gavin kicked the penalty 6-0 to Sligo.
The physical encounter meant the Sligo coach had to start ringing the changes and made some early substitutions bringing on Gerard Kearney for Aaron Tansey, Christian Carroll for an injured Shane Mitchell but the scrum remained dominant. The Sligo pack is developing a name of being one of the strongest in the league and with a back row from Jake Sexton, Dave Cawley, Shane Mitchell and Liam McIlhinney it is a well earned accolade.
After 27 minutes a penalty was awarded to Tuam which gave them their first score on the board, the Tuam crowd roared, game on, 6-3 Sligo.