The Sligo RFC U-12 squad realised their true potential when they were crowned joint Connacht Champions at the annual Connacht Blitz held at Corinthian Park in Galway on Saturday. Sligo and the highly fancied co-winners Galwegians played out an exciting and tension filled final of the twenty team tournament, in which the two teams created numerous chances, but superb defence from both outfits meant the spoils were shared. Although neither team were able to breach the others defence, the skill levels and commitment shown from both sides was a credit to their respective clubs.
Sligo set their stall out early in the day when they faced the home sides B team in their first outing. Strong running and fine distribution saw Sligo run in four tries while conceding none. Following their opening victory, Ballinrobe were the next test for the would be winners. Sligo continued where they left off against Corinthians and this time scored five tries without reply.
Carrick on Shannon were now the opposition for the Sligo outfit, but they proved no match for a team bursting with confidence, and Sligoâ€™s high tempo game saw them run out easy winners with a scoreline of eight tries to nil.
The group deciding match pitted Sligo against the also unbeaten West Offaly Lions. A place in the semi-final awaited the victors. This game saw a contrast of styles with Sligoâ€™s open running rugby winning out over the â€œLionsâ€? forward orientated physical approach. A superb try manufactured by the Sligo backline proved to be the difference between the two teams.
Ballina awaited Sligo in the semi-final, and as is always the case between these two clubs, the game was played with the expected vigour of a local derby. Both sides manufactured scoring chances but Sligoâ€™s clinical finishing and excellent defence saw them score two unanswered tries to progress to the final.
Galwegians overcame Buccaneers in the second semi to set up a mouthwatering clash with Sligo in the final.
Although the final failed to produce any scores both sides ensured that their respective supporters were kept on the proverbial â€œedge of their seatsâ€?. In an end to end affair, defences won out, with both sides putting in some huge tackles to keep their line secure. Sligo had not conceded a score all the way through the tournament and were in no mood to change this statistic. This defensive strength was especially evident in the closing moments of the match when Galwegians were camped on their line and threw everything including â€œthe kitchen sinkâ€? at Sligo, but could not breach the red, black and yellow wall.
As rightly dictated by IRFU regulations no extra time could be played and so both teams were crowned Joint Connacht Champions.