Tag Archives: U18.5

Heartbreak for Sligo U18.5s

Sligo 29  – Ballinasloe 31

There was blood, sweat and many tears in Hamilton Park last Saturday, as an epic battle took place between two incredible teams in the Connacht U18.5 Cup semi-final.  After their comprehensive 28-14 win over Corinthians, deemed to be one of the hot favourites, Adrian Mc Hale and his team were under no illusion about what lay ahead for them playing a Ballinasloe team, who were still on a high after the Garbally senior Cup win. 

Donnacha Byrne, nominated for Connacht U18 Player of the Year

The weather certainly played its part, with little or no wind and expectations were high among the large crowd.  Sligo started at a furious pace and it was captain Donnacha Byrne who opened the scoring for the home side, with Hubert Gilvarry adding the extras.  Ballinasloe replied by piling on the pressure from the restart and opening their scoring with an easy penalty in front of the posts. This was quickly followed by another penalty to put a mere point between the sides.  Sligo upped the tempo of the game and dominated for another 10 minutes.  A Hubert Gilvarry try was disallowed for an adjudged knock-on, but the strong Sligo maul, set up Will Whelan to spin off and speed through to score Sligo’s second try.  Gilvarry added the 2 points from a difficult angle and Sligo went 5 points up, with 10 minutes left in the first half.  The home side had their tails up and they continued to play with a new-found intensity, securing ruck ball and going through the phases.  Out half Hubert Gilvarry was alert to every half chance and when the Ballinasloe defence stepped off the side of a ruck, pre-empting the attack from the pack, Gilvarry deftly nipped through the gap and dived over the line to add to his side’s tally. He converted his own try from in front of the posts to bring the score to 21-9 at the half way mark, which is 35 minutes in U18.5 rugby.

The second half was a bruising affair, with big tackles going in on both sides.  The fluid rugby played by the two teams, was a testament to the clubs and their coaching staff and a glimpse of the future of Connacht rugby.  Ballinasloe continued to battle, and possession changed hands several times.  Sligo chose to run the ball out of defence each time and they eventually broke through for their 4th try, when Thomas Fox showed his pace to race down the touchline and score in the corner.  Gilvarry’s conversion curled to the right of the posts to put the score at 26-9, with only 15 minutes left on the clock.

Sligo’s Will Whelan scores his second try, much to the delight of his team mate

The hectic pace of the game continued, and Ballinasloe turned the screws on the Sligo defence.  The visitors kept their heads, pressing the home side, and eventually broke through the Sligo defence to score their opening try. The conversion was good and there was now only 10 points between the teams, with 60 minutes gone on the clock.  Two yellow cards were issued in quick succession against the home side and the numerical advantage paid off for the visitors, clocking up another converted try to put a mere 3 points between the teams with only 5 minutes plus injury time left to play.

Sligo’s restarts had been textbook throughout the game, with Gilvarry adjudging his kicks to perfection and Luke Hogge timing his chase with inch precision, to leap highest and secure the ball in the air for his side.  However, the visitors had grown wise to this tactic and Hogge’s chase was brutally stopped by a cynical block in front of the Ballinasloe dugout. The referee awarded a penalty, but again the visitors escaped being issued a yellow card.  Gilvarry added another 3points to his side’s tally to stretch the lead to 6 points.

The 13 man Sligo, continued to play their hearts out, laying their bodies on the line.  Ballinasloe piled on the pressure searching for the winning score but, the game was now over 5 minutes into injury time. Sligo were penalised again, and the visitors closed the gap to 3 points.  The clock continued to run, and it did not seem possible that there could be another twist in this game, however, a sweeping move through the pacey Ballinasloe backs brought the ball out on the wing and the visitors dived over in the corner to put them 2 points up.  Sligo were returned to full strength and the final whistle still had not been sounded.  One last attack by the home side was on the cards, but the ball was slowed down by the opposition and Sligo were unable to win the penalty, which could have sent them into the final.  With an unbelievable 12 minutes injury time on the clock, the referee eventually sounded the final whistle, breaking the hearts of the Sligo team.

This was an incredible match, played at pace throughout, with the Sligo lads showing great strength, tenacity and teamwork.  They displayed an epic work rate for all 82 minutes of the game, with a high level of fitness very apparent, due to all their hard work and training up and down Knocknarea.  Great credit must go to Head Coach Adrian McHale, Manager Roger Burrows and Specialist Advisors Ross Mannion, James Wilson and Gavin Foley for their dedication throughout the season.  A special thanks to the U18.5s’ parents for all their help and support.

U18.5 Cup Semi-Final

Sligo take on Ballinasloe RFC next Saturday at 11:30 in Hamilton Park. The home side had a comprehensive 28-14 win against Corinthians in their quarter-final and Ballinasloe also had a comfortable 10-25 win against Ballina. This is a huge game for the U18.5s, all support would be greatly appreciated.

U18.5 Cup Semi-Final

Sligo take on Ballinasloe RFC next Saturday at 11:30am in Hamilton Park.  The home side had a comprehensive 28-14 win against Corinthians in their quarter-final and Ballinasloe also had a comfortable 10-25 win against Ballina. 

This is a huge game for the U18.5s, all support would be greatly appreciated.

U18.5s Triumph in Cup Quarter Final

Sligo 28  –  Corinthians 14

After a disappointing league campaign, 5th placed Sligo were drawn against 2nd placed Corinthians in the Connacht U18.5 Cup and they were under no illusions as to the mountain of a task that lay ahead.  A sizeable home crowd had gathered in anticipation of a cracker of a cup game and they were not disappointed.  It was the home team who started the stronger and enjoyed a considerable period of dominance over a frustrated Corinthians side.  Sligo were the first on the scoreboard with two successive penalties from the trusty boot of out half Hubert Gilvarry.  This was followed by a spirit comeback from the visitors, but they were unable to penetrate the solid Sligo defence.  A Luke Hogge try added another 5points to the home side on the half time whistle.

Hubert Gilvarry clears the lines for Sligo
Hubert Gilvarry clears the lines for Sligo

The second half saw a Corinthian’s resurgence, applying pressure in the Sligo 22.  They were eventually rewarded for their efforts and brought the score to 11-7.  Sligo immediately rallied, and the pack worked the ball down the pitch, with Donnacha Byrne crossing the line in the corner to stretch the lead to 9points.  Possession changed hands over the next ten minutes, but it was Corinthians who made the next break through down the Sligo touch line to score in the corner and slot home a difficult conversion to bring the score to 16-14.  This narrow margin seemed to spur the Sligo lads on and an impressive maul, off a lineout on the 10m line, drove Matthew Early over the try line, with only 10 minutes left on the clock.  Sligo sealed the deal with a sweeping move off a lineout on the halfway line.  The ball was worked wide through the hands and across the pitch for Will Whelan to speed up the wing and touch down in the corner.

Rock solid defence against Corinthians
Rock solid defence against Corinthians

This was an impressive game by the Sligo side and all focus is now on the semi-final of the Cup on 24th March against Ballinasloe.

Sligo: 1 Matthew Harte 2 Matthew Earley 3 Cullen Vega 4 Anderson 5 Cummings 6 Will Whelan 7 Adam West 8 Donnacha Byrne 9 Andrew Ward 10 Hubert Gilvarry 11 Brennan 12 Whelan 13 Ronan McGoldrick 14 Higgins, 15 Luke Hogge16 Darragh Mc Elhinney 17 Thomas Fox 18 Matthew Horan 19 Niall Stokes 20 Staunton

U18.5: Sligo v Buccaneers

Sligo U18.5s 29 – Buccaneers U18.5s 26

Hamilton Park played host to Round 7 of the U18.5 Division 1A league on Sunday and it was the home side who had an explosive start to the game, dominating from the kick-off, with Will Whelan showing great footwork to weave his way through the Buccaneers’ defence and ground the ball in the corner. The difficult conversion fell short and Sligo were 5-0 up. The next 25 minutes was played within the Sligo 22m as Buccaneers dominated the play. They were eventually rewarded for their efforts when they drove over for a try and the conversion put them 2 points ahead with 5 minutes to go in the half. Sligo had the chance to take back the lead with a penalty and resultant line-out on the Buccaneers’ 5m line, but the ball sailed over the back of the line out giving possession back to the visitors, a fortunate knock-on ended the half, with Sligo trailing by a mere 2 points.

Will Whelan scores his first of 3 tries

The second half was a hotly contested affair with Matthew Earley first to open the scoring, dotting down out wide to put the home side 10-7 up. Buccaneers were quick to counter and retake the lead with a try but failed to add the extras. The pace of the game was hectic, with lots of phases of play and Sligo enjoyed a period of dominance with Will Whelan getting the ball wide, spotting a gap in the Buccaneers defence and racing over the line to run the ball in under the posts. Matthew Earley stroked the conversion over and the home side were 17-12 up with 15 minutes to go.
 Buccs’ regained possession from the restart and went through the phases to eventually work the ball score under posts to retake the lead from the home side.

no going past the Sligo defence

Sligo maintained pressure from the restart and won the ball back through determined rucking. Will Whelan was on fire, and his sidestep carved open the Buccaneers’ defence again to clock up his third try of the afternoon to give his side a 3 point margin with 10 minutes remaining. This was quickly followed by another sweeping move across the pitch and a neat grubber kick from Hubert Gilvarry, was collected by Thomas Fox and he dotted down under the posts for his team’s fifth try of the game. Earley’s conversion added the extras and Sligo lead 29-19 with only 7 minutes left. The game still had another few twists and turns to go, as the visitors made the most of a series of calls in their favour to drive over the line from a 5 metre penalty. The conversion sailed over to bring it back to a 3 point game. Sligo defended from the restart and their defence held strong in the final few seconds of the game, as a Buccaneers drive was held up over the line. The referee awarded the 5 metre scrum and then blew the final whistle, much to relief of a large home crowd.

This epic win means that Sligo leapfrog Buccaneers into 4th position in the league. Their next game is a tough encounter away to league leaders Ballinasloe on Sunday 9th December

Local Derby Ends in a Draw

Sligo U18.5s took to the pitch against bitter rivals Ballina in a highly contested and tense affair. There is never any love lost between the two neighbouring sides and it was the home side who had the first opportunity to draw first blood, winning a penalty within kickable distance. Hubert Gilvarry struck the ball well, but the upright denied the home side the opening score of the game. Sligo enjoyed a period of sustained pressure in the opening 15 minutes, with Ballina struggling to get out of their own half. The game remained scoreless well into the first half, but the visitors eventually settled and indiscipline in the Sligo defence gave Ballina the edge they needed to cross the whitewash and go 7 points ahead.

Sligo were quick to regroup, and a determined Sligo pack were eventually rewarded with the equalising score, when Luke Hogge made a strong run to dot the ball down. The try was converted by Gilvarry. The game continued in the same vein as before, with big hits going in on both sides, and there was nothing between the sides at half time.

The weather then took a turn for the worse, with the rain making handling difficult. A lapse in concentration in the Sligo defence allowed the big centre from Ballina to power through the gap and touch down in the corner. With only 5 minutes left on the clock, a determined Sligo team secured the ball from the restart and a well-worked move fed the ball to Donnacha Byrne, fresh from international duty in Italy, who powered over the line in the corner. The difficult conversion fell short and the two sides remained deadlocked at 12-12 right up to the final whistle.

U18.5: Sligo v Ballinrobe

Sligo RFC 33 – Ballinrobe RFC 26

An understrength but determined U-18.5 Sligo team took to the pitch last Sunday, in what was a do or die game for the home side. Depleted numbers have taken their toll on the talented young side but their determination gave them a deserved win in a high-scoring game at Hamilton Park. Having started off with all guns blazing, Sligo soon had a comprehensive lead on their opposition, with free-flowing rugby gaining vital yards and putting even more vital points on the board.


However it was Ballinrobe who put the foot down in the second half, scoring three unanswered tries and narrowing the gap to a mere 5 points, with only 10minutes to go. Sligo needed to re-organise the troops and dig deep. Ballinrobe were put under pressure for the last 8minutes of the game, and defended their line well, until scrum-half Hubert Gilvary spotted the narrowest of gaps and drove straight through a ruck to score a well-deserved try, his second of the game.