It was a good weekend for Sligo Rugby Club.
The senior team beat Boyne by 27 points to 22 on Saturday to move into second spot in the Division 2C table.
And the club’s development squad beat Castlebar 7-6 yesterday to maintain their good form in the Connacht Junior League.
Elsewhere, the club’s U15 team finished runners-up in their league.
Sligo RFC 27
Boyne RFC 22
Sligo’s charge through Division 2C of the Ulster Bank league stayed firmly on track with a hard earned victory over an aggressive Boyne side in what best can be described as a spikey encounter at Strandhill on Saturday.
With Sligo pushing for a place in the promotion race and Boyne fighting for survival at the foot of the table, a lively encounter was always on the cards and the watching faithful were delivered an intense battle from start to finish.
As Queen Maeve’s resting place overlooked the perfect Hamilton Park surface Sligo kicked off with the breeze in their faces playing towards Knocknarea but it was the visitors that grasped the early initiative. A combination of Sligo lethargy through unforced errors and Boyne desire earned an early a score for the visitors and Boyne dotted down with a converted try after 6 minutes for the perfect start.
The worrisome trend continued for the local support with further Sligo errors resulting in a second converted Boyne try on 13 min.
Boyne pushed their lead out to 17 with a penalty on 24 minutes before Sligo were finally stung into life.
A hanging Conor Kerins restart was recovered by flanker Diarmuid O’Dowd-Hill out wide on the left. The ball was moved right where centre Daire Byrne carried with purpose bringing play into the vistors 22. Hooker Shane O’Hehir joined in and brought play close to the line before the ball was moved to Outhalf Michael Wells who expertly evaded the cover to dot down left of the posts.
Full back Jack Keegan popped over the conversion with his usual confidence to move Sligo to within 10 of the opposition with 27 minutes gone.
The revival continued with Sligo working their way back into the Boyne 22. The sustained pressure forced a penalty and scrum half Ryan Feehily opted to move it quickly. Second Row Jamie Bowes brought the drive to within 10 but Sligo were illegally prevented from recycling and another penalty was awarded. Feehily again opted to go quickly to Bowes and play was brought right to the tryline. A quick presentation allowed Wells another opportunity to step inside and although the outhalf was held out, the supporting O’Hehir forced his way over to dot down. Keegan again converted to narrow the gap to three with five minutes remaining in the half.
Sligo were now in full flow and looked to have taken the lead when a flowing move involving interchange passing between Wells and O’Hehir appeared to have yielded Sligo’s third Try. However to the dismay of the home support an intervention from the touch judge resulted in the try being disallowed and a penalty for alleged foul play was awarded to be visitors back on the Sligo 10 metre line. Boyne grasped this reprieve with both hands and from the resulting lineout drove over the Sligo line to move into a 22-14 two score lead going into the interval.
Despite the setback Sligo started the second half with determination and were gradually gaining domination in most areas. Props Conor Mitchell and Mark Keegan were solid at the scrum. Ciaran Cassidy was proving an able deputy to the hard carrying Bowes and Captain Shane Boyle carried directly into the heart of the opposition time and time again. Mark Rooney also caught the eye with some trademark runs when afforded space.
With 50 minutes on the clock Sligo move within one point of the visitors. A clearing Boyne kick was collected by Conor Kerins. The winger countered up the left before linking up with Wells. The outhalf stepped through the defence and linked up with pacey winger Callum Goddard. Goddard shot into the 22 and looked to exchange passes with Wells. A stray Boyne hand illegally slapped the pass to the ground but O’Dowd-Hill was running the perfect support line and was able to rescue the move and feed Goddard who raced to the line for Sligo’s third try. Another excellent Keegan conversion put the smallest margin between the teams.
Sligo were now in control and went hunting for the lead. Matt Davey and Thomas Gormaley were introduced to the fray and Davey made an immediate impact with a super burst up the middle but Sligo were unable to capitalise as a relieving penalty was awarded.
Midway through the half Sligo took the lead through a Keegan penalty from the 10 meter line and the dose was repeated on seventy minutes with another well struck effort from outside the 22 on the left hand side.
Sligo gamely tried to pick up the bonus point try but a fractious final 10 minutes in which the referee issued three yellow cards meant that the final score remained at 27-22 in favour of the home side.
Sligo now sit in second place four points behind leaders Navan RFC and on the the same points as Rainey Old Boys who are Sligo’s next opponents on Saturday March 4th. The match takes place in Hatrick Park Magherafelt on Saturday March 4th.
Sligo Jack Keegan, Callum Goddard, Mark Rooney, Daire Byrne, Conor Kerins, Michael Wells, Ryan Feehily, Mark Keegan, Shane OHehir, Conor Mitchell, Jamie Bowes, Ciaran Cassidy, Simon Coulter, Diarmuid O’Dowd-Hill, Shane Boyle (Capt) Reps Ross O’Boyle, Thomas Gormaley, Michael McMorrow, Matt Davey, Enda Gavin
Sligo RFC Development Squad who are lying in second place of the Connacht J1b league travelled to Castlebar on Sunday needing to continue their recent good form in search of a win in order to keep them in contention of winning the league .
Unfortunately the weather was wet ,the pitch heavy and the ball greasy which was not conducive to the attacking style of Sligo play .
Sligo started well putting pressure on Castlebar holding them in their own half which led to a penalty against them for an offside player giving Sligo an early opportunity to get a score on the board .The penalty was missed giving Castlebar an early let off .
From this Castlebar gained some momentum towards the end of the first half and were rewarded with a penalty which they duly converted into three points giving them the lead at half time .The first half due to the fore mentioned poor weather conditions led to a half of multiple errors , knockons and dropped passes .Sligo did not settle early and all the player seemed too anxious and impatient looking for a score .
The second half recommenced with Castlebar gaining further momentum and territorial advantage which eventually on 60 minutes led to a penalty advantage resulting in their sure footed full back kicking the points making the score now 6 nil to Castlebar .
The quality of the rugby did not improve overall but the Sligo back line marshalled by Gary ohehir and Enda Gavin made good yardage breaking the game line on numerous occasions with good support play from Sean Mullen and the old statesman Gavin Foley .
Sligo were determined to stay in the game and keep their league title hopes alive so they worked their way up the pitch with great forward play involving Matt Davey ,David Cawley ,Jake Sexton ,James O’Hehir and the great Michael McMorrow ,all breaking the game line with power plays .Sligo now in earnest looking for a score began to pressure the Castlebar try line. This resulted in a scrum to Sligo on the Castlebar 5 meter line ,the Sligo pack now in the ascendency drove for the line but the scrum collapsed ,making Sligo supporters wonder about the possibility for a penalty try but the scrum was reset by the referee which resulted in another collapsed scrum ,the pressure was now on both the Castlebar pack and the referee for the resetting of the third scrum but due to phenomenal Sligo pressure ,Matt Davey number 8 at the back of the scrum scored the try ,bringing the score 6-5 to Castlebar .Enda Gavin stepped up for the conversion kick which he struck through the posts giving Sligo the lead and the final score 7-6 to Sligo , another nail biting finish .
Coach Paddy Pearson though delighted with the win had some harsh words about the poor execution of the game plan .He awarded the Man of the Match to Matt Davey . Roger Burrows encouraged the team now to focus on the next game on Sunday 26th February in Strandhill v Ballyhaunis .
Squad: Stuart O’Brien,Clive Morris ,Gavin Foley ,Sean Mullin,Brian Mullen,Enda Gavin,Gary O’Hehir ,Thomas Gormley,Ross Oboyle,Aaron Tansey,David Cawley ,Capt.Michael McMorrow ,James O’Hehir,Matt Davey David Bergin,Craig Adams,Karl VanRensvurg,Gary Conneely ,Jake Sexton.Jack Gormley