Sligo RFC 37
Thomond RFC 0
Sligo clinched the Ulster Bank 2c title with an emphatic victory over second placed Thomond RFC at a packed out Hamilton park on Saturday. Sligo scored six tries without reply as they comprehensively put their opponents to the sword in a dominant display from start to finish.
With the sun beaming down on Strandhill Sligo’s Mark Butler kicked off playing towards the Knocknarea end into the stiff breeze. From early on it was clear that Sligo were determined to play at a fast pace and looked to put width on the ball at every opportunity.
With 10 minutes on the clock Sligo’s enterprise was rewarded with the opening score. Matthew Cosgrove secured an accurate Shane O’Hehir line out throw on the Thomond 22 and the ball was quickly moved wide. Philip Carter collect out on the left but had to cut back inside to find support. A quick recycle was moved down the blindside with Mike Wells and Butler handling before Manu Parkin collected 10 meters from the line. The flanker showed great strength to drive to within 1 metre and when the ruck was secured Cosgrove fed powerhouse prop Kuba Wojtkowicz who drove over under the sticks. Wells added the extras and Sligo were up and running.
Sligo’s second came with 25 minutes gone. A promising move from a 5 metre scrum broke down in the centre and Thomond hacked the ball clear. Mark Rooney raced back and claimed the ball for Sligo. The ball was secured and quickly moved left where Sligo had numbers waiting. O’Hehir carried into the 22 before releasing Mata Fifita and despite being hauled down shy of the line the powerful centre reached out to touch down in the corner.
Sligo were now on top in all facets of play and the visitors were struggling to come to grips with the tempo being set. Conor Mitchell was putting huge pressure on the Thomond scrum and James Wilson had the measure of the lineout. Ciaran Cassidy was his showing his usual physicality at the breakdown.Try number three arrived on the half hour. A sustained period of pressure saw Wells and Butler combine to give O’Hehir the space to burst through the cover defence and touch down wide on the left to put Sligo into a 17-0 lead at the interval.
It was more of the same following the resumption with Sligo continuing to impose themselves on their visitors.
The game went through a scrappy period with some ill discipline but Sligo retained their focus and soon the scoreboard was moving again. The referee awarded Sligo a penalty on the Thomond 10 metre line. Ryan Feehily reacted quickest and tapped the ball and raced away. The scrum half beat the cover defence and touched down in the corner for Sligo’s fourth of the day.
Mike Wells added to the scoreline with an excellently struck penalty with 10 minutes left on the clock before Calum Goddard picked the first of his two try’s. A clean ball from a Sligo scrum on the 10 meter line was moved quickly to the right through team captain Shane Boyle. Feehily and Butler both handled before the final pass was moved to Goddard who touched down in the corner.
Goddard repeated the dose right at the death. Fifita made an excellent break through the middle following a scrum on the half way line. The centre carried right into the 22 and drew the defence allowing Goddard a free run in from 10 meters. Wells added the extras, the ref blew full time and Sligo are champions and promoted to 2b.
For the second time this season IRFU delegate Michael Cunningham brought a cup to Sligo,having brought the Connacht Senior Cup in January, and for the second time he presented a cup to victorious Sligo Captain Shane Boyle who proudly raised it aloft to the delight of the huge Sligo support.
Mark Butler, Philip Carter, Mark Rooney, Mata Fifita, Calum Goddard, Mike Wells, Ryan Feehily, Kuba Wojtkowicz, Shane O’Hehir, Conor Mitchell, James Wilson, Ciaran Cassidy, Shane Boyle (Capt) Manu Parkin, Matthew Cosgrove. Reps Shane Mc Guinness, Ross O’Boyle, Ross Hickey, David Heath, Niall Gray, Enda Gavin, Christian Nielsen, Jack Keegan.