Sligo U15s lost out in the cruellest of circumstances when they suffered a one point defeat in a superbly contested Connacht cup final played under floodlights at Creggs rugby club on Friday evening.
Sligo lead with 10 minutes remaining on the clock but a late penalty kick by Corinthians snatched the victory from the north westerners allowing the tribesmen to lift the trophy.
In excellent conditions for rugby Sligo kicked off playing against the slight hill. Corinthians had the better of the opening exchanges but Sligo soon settled to their task and began to get a grip on the game. The front row of Thomas Moran, Francis Walsh and Conan O Donnell got the measure of the scrum and the half backs of Ryan Feehily and Stephen Kearins were managing the game for Sligo. Centres Matthew Cosgrove and Evan Mc Grath were combining well to shut out the Corinthian threat and James Hampson was rock solid at full back.
Both sides showed promise for the opening quarter but excellent defending kept the game scoreless. Sligo were delivered a gut wrenching blow after 20 minutes when the influential Kerins had to retire with illness but Mc Grath showed his versatility to move to the pivotal position and take over the reins.
With 2 minutes left before half time and Sligo reduced to 14 due to a severe sin binning, the live wire Feehily latched onto a loose Corinthian pass to race from the half way line and dot down to the right of the posts. Mc Grath added the extras to put his team 7 points ahead going into the break.
The second half began in the same manner as the first half ended with both sides trying to physically impose themselves on the other. Corinthians made their breakthrough after 15 minutes when a series of forward drives were stopped close to the Sligo line. The ball was moved wide and weight of numbers allowed a Corinthian touch down in the corner.
The Galway outfit pressed for the winning score but Sligo’s defence held firm and a huge Mc Grath defensive clearance was knocked on by the Corinthians full back inside his own half. However, the referee failed to notice the infringement and the following counter attack resulted in a penalty on the Sligo 22 which was converted to put the Galway side ahead by the slimmest of margins.
Sligo gamely responded but the damage was done and not long after the long whistle signalled the end of a superb encounter.
The two sides meet again next Sunday to battle for the league final and judging by Friday night’s performance Sligo are capable of lifting the silverware second time around.
Sligo Thomas Moran, Francis Walsh, Conan O Donnell, Sean Hurley, Jake Sexton, Ryan Bright, Daire Byrne, Joe Conway, Ryan Feehily, Stephen Kerins, Jackson Smith, Matthew Cosgrove, Evan Mc Grath, Zack Irwin, James Hampson reps Cian Cassidy, Jack Tillion, Luke Morrison, Jason Greer, Ronan Elliott, Diarmuid Mulligan, Darran Harte