Congratulations to the U16/17 players, who travelled to Wales last weekend to take part in the Osprey Challenge Rugby Festival. Sligo won all their pool games, beating Boyne RFC in their final game to win the trophy. Many thanks to those who organised the tour and to the coaches who braved the trip with the 40 players.
Sligo 10 – Ballina 14
After the first quarter-final battle ended up 19-19, Sligo were hoping to make the most of home advantage to topple local rivals Ballina, who were hot favourites to win the Connacht U16 Cup.
There was a sizeable home crowd in attendance and the atmosphere was charged, typical of a cup tie. The game started at a fast pace and the home wise were quick to settle, putting pressure on Ballina and maintaining possession. However, it was the visitors who were first to break the deadlock. A sweeping move by Sligo, with the ball being moved wide through the hands, was intercepted by the pacey Ballina fullback and he punched through the Sligo defence to touch down to the left of the posts. The out half added the extras to bring the score to 0-7.
Sligo regained possession from the restart and piled on the pressure. The forwards did a great job of picking and driving their way up the pitch, going through the phases and pulling the Ballina defence out of position. A strong drive from the back of a ruck, supported by the pack, eventually drove Ewan Ripon over the line for a well-deserved 5points. Out half Oisin Cregg had a difficult kick to level the game, but he judged it to perfection, kicking into the wind and curling the ball inside the upright. Sligo continued to control the game for the remaining 8 minutes of the half. Persistent infringements by the visitors eventually led to a penalty in front of the posts and Cregg assuredly slotted the ball home to bring the score to 10-7 on the half-time whistle.
The second half was a dogged affair with Sligo dominating in the line-out and having the lion’s share of possession. The greasy conditions led to a lot of handling errors on both sides, but it was the home side who continued to press, looking for the next score. A Cregg penalty was well struck from quite a distance but didn’t have the legs and the margin between the two sides remained a mere three points. Sligo once again applied pressure from the restart, but it was Ballina who made the breakthrough, when they pounced on a loose ball and kicked through the Sligo defence. A chase ensued, and the Ballina centre picked it up and sped through to score a try. The conversion brought the score to 10-14, with only minutes left on the clock. The Sligo lads kept their heads and kept fighting for the ball. They regained possession and pushed for the line. Repeated infringements by the opposition resulted in a string of penalties for the home side, bringing them within metres of the line each time, however only a try would suffice, and the clock was against them. Sligo kept the pressure on, but Ballina eventually won the ball back and kicked it to touch to end the game and put themselves into the Cup semi-final against Corinthians.
It was heartbreak for the Sligo lads, who put in a huge effort, giving 100% right until the final whistle. Great credit must go to all the players for their dedication throughout the season and a huge thanks to the coaching team of Hagan Mc Quaid, Michael O’Hehir, Wesley Maxwell and John Garvey, as well as all the parents for their support during the year.
Ballina 19 – Sligo 19
Sligo U16s travelled to Ballina RFC last Saturday for the hotly anticipated Connacht Cup quarter final and local derby. Ballina U16s took to the field full of confidence after a great year of results, having only lost a single game all year and having had comprehensive victories over Sligo both home and away. However, this was cup rugby and the script was promptly thrown out the window, as the weather played its part in upsetting the favourites.
From the first whistle the home side quickly showed their dominance and put 7points on the board. However, Sligo kept their heads and patiently worked their way up the field to score under the posts and level the scores.
Both sides tried to gain the upper hand with the Ballina scrum having the upper hand and the Sligo lineout having more success.
Ballina made the most of the wind behind their backs and proceeded to put another converted try between the two sides. The visitors again kept a level head and soon after crossed the whitewash to level it. Possession continued to change hands and both sides were battling the elements, as well as each other. Again, it was the home side that put another try on the score board, but the strong wind pushed it wide of the posts and the difference between the teams was 5points. With the clock ticking by, Sligo knew they had to make one last determined push for the Ballina line. The strong Sligo pack set up a maul and drove for the line, the Sligo scrum half broke down the blind side and touched down in the corner to even the scores.
The difficult conversion drifted wide, much to the relief of the home crowd. This was a hugely entertaining game and the quarter final replay will now be played in Hamilton Park on
Sligo: Adam Fox, Adam Hunter, Ben Garvey, Brady Lynch, Ciaran Cawley, Ciaran Dolan, Conal Kennedy, Cormac Fahey, Conor Mullaney, Dara Foy, Eoin Ryan, Evin Ballantine, Ewan Ripon, Fionn Feeley, Fionn O’Hehir, Jim Sweeney, Kian Reynolds, Leo Layden, Liam Candon, Niall O’Connor, Oisin Cregg, Oisin Diffley, Olan Martin, Ronan Gray, Sean Gilvarry, Sonny Muldoon, Eoghan Lang, Hugo Filan.
Having already written themselves into the history books, with a league final and cup semi-final under their belts, there was no fairy-tale ending for Sligo U16 girls as they encountered tough opposition in the Connacht U16 Girls Cup semi-final. Sligo got off to a slow start in the first half and quickly found themselves 19 points down, with Portumna running in some easy tries and some sloppy defending from Sligo. Portumna dominated the first half with home advantage showing and a travel-weary Sligo were slow to get into the game. In the second half, Sligo really came alive with some strong running from player of the match Jasmine Morgan (one to watch for the future) and a strong push by the team led to captain Enya Hughes reaching the try line but a last-minute knock on denied Sligo their opening score. 5 minutes later, the Sligo captain scored in the corner but Amy Hampson’s conversion drifted wide of the mark. Sligo ran hard and really pushed Portumna back but just couldn’t deliver the final blow on numerous drives. A line break by Bebhinn Harte led to a 40 metre dash to the line but sadly she was just tackled in the last 10 metres. It was a tough game with the Sligo girls really showing heart and desire and they never gave up trying but sadly it was not their day against the Division 1 team.
Sligo U16 Girls: Giselle Gallagher, Jasmine Morgan, Jenny Cregg, Meaghan Callaghan, Teresa Devaney, Lucy Morrison, Katelyn Benson, Grace Molloy, Enya Hughes (C) Bebhinn Harte, Cria Flanagan, Emma Cox, Mia Bandon, Mia Clinch, Ruth Flanagan, Brid Madden, Amy Hampson
Sligo 29 – Corrib 7
Last Sunday saw Sligo R.F.C. U16s home in the first round of the Connacht U16 Cup against Corrib R.F.C. This was the first times for these two teams to meet. Corrib travelled with fourteen players and Sligo agreed to match their number for the start.
Sligo started strong and the game was tight to begin but Sligo fought hard and secured their first converted try early on, despite having an over-eager Conal Kennedy sin binned for an offside offence. Corrib did well but failed to make the most of their 10 minutes with an extra player.
It took awhile for the home side to settle, but their experience eventually paid off and their dominance was obvious with tries from Oisin Cregg, Dara Foy and Eoin Ryan. Adam Hunter’s two tries and their subsequent conversions saw the home side stretch their lead to 29 points with no reply. The whole Sligo team played well as a unit and there was good interlinking between the pack and the back line.
Great credit is due to Corrib who kept fighting right to the final whistle. With only minutes left in the game, the visitors retained possession, going through the phases and spotted an uncharacteristic lapse in the Sligo defence and scored a well-deserved try, which they converted to end the game.
All attention is now turned to the second round of the Connacht U16 Cup in two weeks’ time, which sees Sligo drawn away against a formidable Ballina team.
Sligo: Adam Hunter, Ben Garvey, Brady Lynch, Ciaran Cawley, Ciaran Dolan, Conal Kennedy, Cormac Fahey, Dara Foy, Eoin Ryan, Evin Ballantine, Ewan Ripon, Fionn Feeley, Jim Sweeney, Kian Reynolds, Niall O’Connor, Oisin Cregg, Oisin Diffley, Olan Martin, Sean Gilvarry, Sonny Muldoon. Coaches Michael O’Hehir, Wes Maxwell. John Garvey and Mark Fox.
Sligo 22 – Claremorris 19
A last gasp try by Jasmine Morgan was enough to put the Sligo U16 Girls into the Connacht Cup semi-final and continue their incredible debut year in rugby.
Having beaten Buccaneers in the preliminary round of the Cup, Sligo, the U16 Division 2 league runners-up, knew they were undoubtedly the underdogs in this cup tie, as they were taking on Claremorris RFC U16 Girls who came 3rd in the Division 1 league.
Sligo management had made several changes in the back line with the new partnership of Enya Hughes at scrum half and out half Bebhinn Harte combining well with Mia Clinch in first centre. It was the home side who started the stronger, dominating at the break down and set the tone for the cup clash when winger Cliodhna O’Sullivan opened the scoring with a try in the corner. She then slotted home a difficult conversion from the touch line to put Sligo 7 points up.
Claremorris responded within minutes with a score of their own but failed to add the extras. Sligo were impressive with their strong running and support play and it was full back Emma Cox who scored her team’s second try to bring the score to 12-5 at half-time. Claremorris came out all guns blazing in the second half and eventually levelled the scores. Sligo responded again and Cliodhna O’Sullivan ran in her second try of the game. In typical Cup fashion, there was still lots of drama to play out. The pack were dominant in securing rucks and strong, hard running from Jasmine Morgan, Jenny Cregg, Giselle Gallagher, Hannah Walsh-Kerins, Teresa Devaney and Grace Molloy gained valuable ground for the home side. A persistent rain made playing conditions difficult and the greasy surface resulted in handling errors on both sides. The visitors showed their experience and continued to pressure the Sligo defence and were eventually rewarded for their patience, when they dotted down under the posts and converted the try to go 2points ahead with only 5minutes left on the clock. Possession changed hands several times as the clock counted down, but it was the Division 2 team who showed passion and determination to work their way up to the Claremorris 5m line and win a penalty for an infringement in the ruck. The referee called last play of the game and Sligo knew they had one last chance to seal the win. Jasmine Morgan took the ball on and her pack drove her over the try line for a magnificent win.
The Sligo girls read the game well, showing a lot of imagination throughout, changing the plays and their positional kicking proving problematic for Claremorris. There was outstanding play and great heart shown throughout the game. Bebhinn Harte had the back line well organised with Mia Clinch calling the line breaks. The Man of the Match accolade must go to full back Emma Cox for her determined running with the ball, defensive positioning and high tackle rate.
Sligo U16 Girls are the only Division 2 team left in the Cup and their historic semi-final Cup tie is scheduled for 16th February against either Corinthians RFC or Portumna/Loughrea. Sligo U16 Girls: Giselle Gallagher, Jasmine Morgan, Jenny Cregg, Teresa Devaney, Hannah Walsh-Kerins, Grace Molloy, Lara Lopez, Enya Hughes (c), Cliodhna O’ Sullivan, Katelyn Benson, Mia Clinch, Bebhinn Harte, Cria Flanagan, Emma Cox, Clare Keegan, Brid Madden
Sligo 7 – Tuam/Oughterard 22
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.
Ballinasloe U16s 14 – Sligo U16s 27
Sunday saw Sligo RFC U16s away against League Leaders Ballinasloe. Following on from a home win against Buccaneers and wearing the new club shirts sponsored by Cosgroves Centra Muagheraboy, the Sligo team were up for it.
The game started strong for Sligo with the first twenty minutes seeing Sligo between the opposition 22 and their try line. The pressure was on but a try couldn’t be scored against an impressive Ballinasloe defence and a penalty three points was the only result of Sligo’s initial pressure. Sligo then got back up and quickly scored a try converted. Ballinasloe weren’t holding back and weren’t long scoring their own.
The second half saw a resurgent Ballinasloe but Sligo went to the well, dug in and scored their second try. Again Ballinasloe got up and pressured the Sligo team resulting in their second try too. Ballinasloe didn’t hold back but an intercept saw the bol’ Fionn O’Hehir run from the Sligo 22 right up the length of the pitch with Ballinasloe in tow to score Sligo’s third try converted. Another penalty resultant from Sligo pressure on the Ballinasloe try line, kicked by Oisίn Cregg saw the final result 14 – 27. A great result for the Sligo boys against what was a very tough and skilled opposition and a team who are to be wished the best and whom hosted us well after.
Sligo U16s – team, coaches and management would also like to thank Cosgroves Centra Maugheraboy for the sponsorship of our new jerseys – Thank you Des and Martha!
Next Game Ballina at home in two weeks’ time.
Sligo: Adam Fox, Adam Hunter, Ben Garvey, Brady Lynch, Ciaran Cawley, Ciaran Dolan, Conal Kennedy, Cormac Fahey, Conor Mullaney, Diarmuid Dowd, Eoin Ryan, Evin Ballantine, Ewan Ripon, Fionn Feeley, Fionn O’Hehir, Jim Sweeney, Leo Layden, Liam Candon, Niall O’Connor, Oisin Cregg, Oisin Diffley, Olan Martin, Sean Gilvarry, Sonny Muldoon.
Sligo 34 – Buccaneers 0
Sunday saw Sligo RFC U16s first home match of the season against Buccaneers. Following a few disappointing results and a settling down of position placement, this was an important game for a team under a new coach Mickey O’Hehir and coaching staff; Wes Maxwell, John Garvey and Mark Fox.
Under a heavy head on wind, the game started strong from both sides. The Sligo forwards did a great job of providing opportunity for the backs via Sligo’s Niall O’Connor and Oisin Cregg. Buccaneers tested the Sligo defence lengthy with a committed tackle rate from Brady Lynch amongst all others holding them out. Line outs worked well for Sligo too with Cormac Fahey in the mix and Leo Layden in the maul. The second half saw a renewed intensity in rucks from Liam Candon and Oisin Diffley that allowed continued recycling for Fionn Feeley who came on as scrum half replacement.
Centres Ewan Ripon and Fionn O’Hehir provided repeated opportunities for try scoring. Sean Gilvarry excelled at full back, as did Conor Mullaney and Sonny Muldoon, with repeated forward ball carrying. Every player, including each and every substitute, excelled and must be congratulated for intensity and work rate. Next game for the U16s is on 13th October, away to Ballinasloe RFC.
Sligo U16s: Adam Fox, Adam Hunter, Brady Lynch, Ciaran Cawley, Ciaran Dolan, Conal Kennedy, Cormac Fahey, Conor Mullaney, Diarmuid Dowd, Eoin Ryan, Evin Ballantine, Ewan Ripon, Fionn Feeley, Fionn O’Hehir, Jim Sweeney, Leo Layden, Liam Candon, Niall O’Connor, Oisin Cregg, Oisin Diffley, Olan Martin, Sean Gilvarry, Sonny Muldoon.
Westport U16s 0 – Sligo U16s 39
The U16 girls travelled to Westport last Saturday for their first game of the new season and were rewarded for their efforts with a comprehensive 39 point win over the home side.
The team have been training on Monday and Thursday nights at 7pm and all their hard work paid off, as they dominated from the first whistle. It was a whole team effort, as six players got their names on the score sheet, with tries coming from Sophie (2), Mia (2), Giselle, Amy, Bebhinn and Aoife slotting home two conversions. The next round of the U16 girls Qualifier Pool 2 will be on Saturday 6th October, when the girls travel to Ballinasloe.