Immense Sligo victory
Sligo Development Squad faced Corinthians in Strandhill for what will probably be viewed as the League Cup Final of the season.
Coach Paddy Pearson believed it was critical despite heavy rain to play this game at home. A group of Sligo RFC members went out early on Sunday morning to do some work on the pitch to ensure the game could go ahead, which it did.
Sligo kicked off but gave away an early penalty which much to the delight of a very large home crowd was missed. The home side were first to score with a penalty from Enda Gavin,14 minutes into the game. Sligo's powerful pack were already showing how they have developed a name for themselves in this league as they began to boss a surprised Corinthian pack at every set piece. The Sligo front row of Thomas Gormley, Ross O'Boyle and Craig Adams were to the fore of all such encounters.
Against the run of play Corinthians after some fine handling and a testing kick into the corner scored a try by their quick thinking winger but missed the conversion. Sligo now quick to respond urged on by Captain Michael McMorrow moved up the field and camped on the Corinthians try line. It was eventually breached after a number of pick and drives that involved David Bergin,David Cawley and James O'Hehir, finishing with the power house Matt Davey going over for a well-earned try which was converted by Enda Gavin leaving the score at half time 10-5 to Sligo.
The home side began the second half knowing that this win could lead them on to a final championship game and so the battle continued with all players giving everything. Coach Pearson used the replacements bench to his advantage, making numerous changes, bringing on Aaron Tansey, Gary Conneely, Jake Sexton, Stuart O'Brien and Carl Van Rensburg as rolling subs are now allowed in this league .
The strength of this team is most evident in the quality of the bench. The Sligo back line was immense marshalled by Gary O'Hehir supported by Enda Gavin, Sean Mullin, Clive Morris, Matt Kavanagh and the Peter Pan of the team Gavin Foley. Full back Graham Kerr showed why he will be a force to be reckoned with in seasons to come making some incisive counter attacks.
Corinthians sensing a challenge with time running out attempted to move the ball wide with more urgency but unfortunately not only had they met a resilient Sligo outfit but also the weather gods were now against them and as planned a heavy shower swept across the pitch. Corinthians were now rushing and under pressure mistakes were coming and Sligo were awarded a further penalty for offside, which Enda Gavin duly converted 13-5 to Sligo.
Corinthians rallied again but were unable to cross the Sligo line and the last 10 minutes were spent in the Corinthians' half who finally gave away another penalty allowing the sure footed Enda Gavin to score leaving the final result 16-5 to Sligo.
This was an immense victory especially as the Corinthian team had a number of Connacht Academy Players present but despite their pedigree they were unable to score anything in the second half.
Coach Paddy Pearson and Roger Burrows praised all the Sligo players for their courageous efforts and identified every one of them as 'a Man of the Match'.
SLIGO DEVELOPMENT SQUAD: Thomas Gormley. Ross O'Boyle, Craig Adams, Michael McMorrow (C),David Bergin, David Cawley, Matt Davey, Aaron Tansey, Carl Van Rensburg,Jake Sexton, Gary Conneely, James O'Hehir, Gary O'Hehir, Enda Gavin, Stuart O'Brien, Clive Morris, Sean Mullen,Matt Kavanagh,Graham Kerr, Gavin Foley.