Sligo claimed a crucial 4 points in their encounter against table toppers Rainey Old Boys in Hamilton Park on Saturday afternoon. Sligo had been written off by many prior to this game as their Derry counterparts had beaten all before them with ease.
Sligo were against the breeze in the first half as they kicked off towards the picturesque Knocknarea mountain. Rainey dominated the opening exchanges of the encounter as Sligo tried to gain a foothold in the game, and they were duly rewarded for their early pressure via a penalty from the boot of outhalf C. Laidler after 6 minutes. From the restart, Sligo came roaring back and were almost rewarded for their efforts when the inspirational prop Conor Mitchell neatly combined with fleet footed winger Jack Keegan, who in turn offloaded to leader Shane Boyle in a lovely flowing move. However, his efforts were thwarted with Rainey winning a turnover at the decisive moment. Sligo continued to gain the upper hand on their opponents as they put together some neat set plays as well as making some nice breaks through the influential Michael Wells but couldn’t put the finishing touches to them. Sligo missed a penalty from Conor Kerins on 17 minutes resulting from a dominant scrum and were made to pay for their inaccuracies on 27 minutes when Rainey touched down in the corner through winger J.Burgess after a well orchestrated move.Fortunately, Laidler failed to add the extras to give the home side some hope.Sligo supporters tried to rally their men as they went in pursuit of a comeback.In the final minute of the half ,scrumhalf Ryan Feehily made a dart towards the line but was controversially adjudged to be held on the line to leave the half- time score at 8-0.
The second half saw Sligo with the wind at their backs and led by the monumental efforts of flanker Diarmuid O’Dowd-Hill began to get a firm foothold in the game.Firstly, on 45 minutes the aforementioned O’Dowd-Hill robbed the opposition lineout deep in their 22’.Then the skilful Feehily fed Beirne, who made great inroads towards the Rainey line.Sligo then patiently went through the phases and were rewarded with a Jamie Bowes try.The crowd were ecstatic and raised their voices to lift this young side and become the 16th man. Rainey immediately respomded with a 3 pointer on 49 minutes to extend their lead to 4 and raise the temperature in this enthralling encounter.The game ebbed and flowed as both teams were doing their utmost to get the win,substitute Aaron Spring made a glorious break on the hour mark which resulted in a penalty and a yellow to the visitors centre
J.Mc Murray.Unfortunately,Kerins’ effort just fell short from the half-way line.Then on 63 minutes Rainey made some great distance from a penalty which found its way to the Sligo 5m line and from the resulting maul the visiting forwards put the ball under the jumper and mauled their way to the line as well as claiming the win. However, there was to be one last sting in the tail .Sligo’s half back Feehily smartly dove in for the try from close range after a good lineout .Kerins again converted to leave the scores at 18-14.Feehily was again heavily involved minutes later when he broke off the back of a scrum and kicked over the top in order to clinch the crucial try. However, his efforts were in vain as their winger claimed the ball and touched down. Then in the final minute of the match flanker O’Dowd-Hill fittingly decided the game with a try in the corner,after a great break from the pacey Spring to send the Sligo fans into delirium. Kerins failed to land the conversion but Sligo ran out winners on a scoreline of 19-18 in favour of Sligo.In what was a great team performance all round this will instil more confidence in this youthful Sligo team and give them the belief to push for promotion.
15.Conor Kerins 14.Calum Goddard 13.Mark Rooney 12.Daire Byrne 11.Jack Keegan 10.Michael Wells 9.Ryan Feehily 8. Shane Boyle 7.Diarmuid O’Dowd-Hill 6.Simon Coulter 5. David Heath 4.Ciaran Cassidy 3. Conor Mitchell 2.Shane O’Hehir 1.Jamie Bowes
Replacements:M.Mc Morrow for Coulter , A Spring for Keegan, T Gormley for Bowes ,R O’Boyle and E Gavin