Sligo U-20’s 7 :: Connemara U-20’s 22
The final score-line does scant justice to a brave and battling Sligo side, who made their exit from the Connacht U-20 Cup after a keenly contested encounter with Connemara at Hamilton Park on Saturday last. The game was played in a virtual quagmire, and the sodden underfoot conditions were not conducive to an expansive game.
Sligo had wind advantage in the first half, but spent almost the entire opening quarter on the defensive. They had wing forward, Niall Canning sin-binned in the 19th minute, and within three minutes of his departure, Connemara scored an unconverted try. This score roused Sligo, and for the remainder of the half they were on the attack. In the 26th minute, blind side wing forward, Terence O’Connor, scored a fine try, after good work from the pack, and prop forward, Craig Cooper landed an excellent conversion from close to the right touch-line to put Sligo ahead by 7-5.
From the start of the second half, Sligo were back on the attack, and they had a great opportunity to extend their lead after 9 minutes, but Cooper was off target from a 20 metre penalty. Sligo also lost second row, Daniel Westby, who had been performing well, to injury at this stage. After 14 minutes Connemara scored a vital try. Following a scrum 10 metres from the line, Sligo left their blind side undefended, and the scrum half spotted the opening and touched down for a try which was converted. It was Connemara’s first meaningful second half attack. A 24th minute penalty increased the lead to 15-7, and towards the end Connemara struck again for another converted try to put the issue beyond all doubt.
For Sligo, scrum-half, Stuart O’Brien, centre, Nick Reynolds, wing forward, Terence O’Connor and No.8, Liam Sweeney starred, but the entire team played with great spirit, and their first up tackling was very impressive. Their scrum was very solid, and they more than matched their opponents in the rucks and mauls. Well done to coaches, Roy Cooper and Jamie Livingstone who did a lot of work with this squad throughout the season.
Sligo:Dane Torsney, Michael Conlon, Nick Reynolds, Peter Manley, Kieran Reilly, Ted O’Donnell, Stuart O’Brien, Craig Cooper, Ross Tansey, Philip Allen, David Bergin, Daniel Westby, Terence O’Connor, Liam Sweeney, Niall Canning. Sub. Niall Towey for D. Westby [inj.].