A total panel of 21 players arrived at a windswept Longford Rugby Club on Saturday 20th January.
Sligo were to play in their first blitz of 2007 and faced the prospect of three matches. After getting togged out and stretching their frozen limbs Sligo ran straight into their first match against the home side Longford. Whilst Sligo were still getting into stride Longford ran over a quick try, but undaunted, Sligo turned and pressurised Longford back into their own half. It wasnâ€™t too long before Sligo had equalised. Another try was run in by Longford in deteriorating weather conditions, with the score at half time being 2-1 to Longford.
After a short break Sligo returned to the field recharged and quickly forced the equaliser, which they soon followed up with a third try into the far corner. As they relaxed a little bit Longford were given a penalty from which they successfully levelled the match. Then, in the dying minutes of the second half a concerted team effort from Sligo led to the winning try right by the corner post.
Sligo then moved to their next match, against Cavan, with fire in the blood and soon ran in two tries to lead 2-0 at half time. A good combination of plays between the forwards and backs created the opportunity for the third try. Again they relaxed just a bit too much and allowed Cavan to burst through for their first try of the match. When Sligo calmed down again and reformed they drove over the line to leave a final score of 4-1 in favour of Sligo.
Mullingar were the final team played by Sligo and a pair of tired teams faced up to each other. Sligo were still on fire, however, and despite the increasing hail they ran over to score first. As the temperature continued to fall and toes and fingers became numb in the wet cold mud, Mullingar rallied and equalised. Half time it stood one apiece, and the exhaustion showing on all the playersâ€™ faces told the story of hard fought play in the first half. At the turn around Sligo tried and tried again to force the Mullingar defence to break, and had two tries disallowed. Time was running out when the Sligo forwards stole the ball from a maul and released it out to the wing. Mullingar had defence in place until a well-timed pass allowed Sligo to break through and score in the corner just before the referee blew for full time.
Sligo had won all of their agreed matches, and Mullingar were such good sports that those players who had not had a run in the last match were welcomed out by their counterparts for a fourth â€œfriendlyâ€? match.Â The two teams slid, pushed, fell and drove each other from one end of the pitch to the other, with Mullingar getting first blood through a strong drive by their forwards. Every player was now in a mostly brown kit and fingers could not hold the ball, let alone another player. Time ticked away and Mullingar refused to crack at the back. Then the ball flew out of a ruck and out to the wing again. The far corner beckoned and was crossed, the referee blewÂ – the result a draw.
Aaron Donnelan, Andrew Nairn, David Connell, James O’Hehir, Jamie McGovern, Leigh Dunne, Matthew Davey, Rory Molloy, Ben Ryan, Peter Murray, Eddie Weaver, Sean Finnegan, Daragh Kiely, Cian Allen-Kiely, Hannah Davey, Daragh Burke, Paul Mahon, Eoin Kilroy-Talbot, David McGrath, Jason McLaughlin, Killian Filan.
Photos from the blitz can be found here.