Sligo RFC 21 – Rainey Old Boys RFC 30
Sligo’s quest for promotion to division 2b of the Ulster Bank League ended in disappointment when they went down in the play off semi final to a powerful Rainey Old boys side at Hamilton Park on Saturday. Having finished second in the table for the regular season Sligo were granted the home draw but Sligo’s intense run in appeared to have taken its toll and Rainey looked the fresher side as the game unfolded.
Sligo kicked off playing towards the Knocknarea end with the aid of the slight breeze. The early exchanges were intense with both sides probing for openings. Sligo opened the scoring with a well struck Jack Keegan penalty on six minutes and the full back doubled his teams account with another well struck effort from the ten metre line with twelve minutes gone.
Rainey hit back immediately, and a counter attack from a Sligo clearance was brought into the Sligo half. A cross kick fielded by powerful winger Phillip McClusker opened up the Sligo defence and Rainey made no mistake to finish in the Sligo left corner.
Sligo responded immediately. Conor Kerins’ excellent kick off bounced into touch. Diarmuid O’Dowd-Hill got up to disrupt the Rainey throw and Scrum half Ryan Feehilly quickly moved the ball infield. Simon Coulter carried into the heart of the defence. The play was switched back to the left where a perfectly timed Michael Wells pass released Mark Rooney. Rooney passed to Callum Goddard who’s pace took him to within five yards of the line before passing back inside for Rooney to touch down. Keegans well struck conversion restored Sligo’s six point lead.
Rainey again applied pressure and play was brought into the Sligo 22. A mistake at the lineout was latched onto by Ulster A prop forward Tommy O’Hagan who powered his way to the Sligo line. Scott Mc Clean converted to move Rainey into a single point lead.
Mc Clean and Keegan traded penalties each side of the half hour before another McClean penalty on 35 minutes extended the visitors lead to four points.
The Maherafelt men moved further ahead right before the interval when Outhalf Ricky Andrew jinked his way in from to Sligo 22 to notch up his teams second try. McCleans conversion pushed the half time score to 16-27.
Rainey further extended the lead with another McClean penalty before a superb run from Kuba Wojtkowicz saw the young prop race in from outside the 22 to score wide on the right.
Sadly for Sligo, despite the sin binning of Rainey winger Andrew Donaghy for persistent team infringements, the props effort proved to be the last score of the match and it was the Rainey men that we’re celebrating when the long whistle was blown.
Despite not gaining promotion Sligo will look back proudly on their best ever season of Ulster Bank League rugby. Second in the table and a run of ten wins in a row, Sligo’s young team has given their faithful following some fantastic memories and a huge sense of optimism for the future.
Sligo : Jack Keegan, Conor Kerins, Mark Rooney, Daire Byrne, Callum Goddard, Mike Wells, Ryan Feehily, Kuba Wojtkowicz, Ross O’Boyle, Mark Keegan, Ciaran Cassidy, Jamie Bowes, Simon Coulter, Diarmuid O’Dowd Hill, Shane Boyle (Capt) reps Thomas Gormaley, Matt Davey, James O’Hehir, Michael McMorrow, Graham Kerr, Enda Gavin.