SLIGO 0-14 NUIG 1-9 A MUCH changed Sligo side had to dig deep to hold off a spirited second half revival by NUIG in round two of the Connacht FBD League at Tourlestrane on Sunday last.
Sligo made nine changes from the team which trounced IT Sligo in the first round and their newlook side looked to be on their way to a comfortable victory when they eased into a 0-10 to 0-4 interval lead.
Kenneth Sweeney, one of those brought into the side by manager, Kevin Walsh, was a constant source of menance for the Students in the opening period, helping himself to four splendind points from play.
And with Niall Murphy, Brian Egan and Mark Breheny all looking lively up front, Sligo were in no way flattered by their six point advantage at the break.
NUIG, who were well beaten by Galway in the opening round, lacked confidence and cohesion in the opening period but what a transformation after the break as the hauled themselves back into contention.
The first half was so one-sided that it hardly got the pulse racing but it was a different story in the second period as the game developed into a highly exciting encounter.
Cathal Freeman, Fiachra O'Deasmhunaigh, Ian Galvin and Kieran Murtagh led the Students' revival and a clinically taken goal by Freeman seven minutes into the second half provided the spark they needed to make a game of it.
The sides were level at 0-10 to 1-7 by the 44th minute before Sligo regained their lead with their first score of the second period a minute later.
From there to the finish, the outcome was in the balance but, in fairness to Sligo, they manged to find that little bit extra in the closing stages to fashion a hard earned victory, courtesy of two late points from Murphy.
Goalkeeper, Brian McGovern, defenders, Aodhan Brennan, Johnny Martyn, Johnny Kelly and Brian Curran, midfielder, Eugene Mullen, and forwards Shane McManus, Brian Egan and Kenneth Sweeney were all introduced to the Sligo starting line-up and the re-structured team took a little while to find their rhythm
Indeed, it was the Students who had the better of the early exchanges and they took a deserved lead when Michael Kelly picked off a good score.
It took Sligo nine minutes to open their account - a great point by Sweeney following good approach work by Breheny and Brian Egan - but they quickly set about stamping their authority on proceedings.
Sweeney struck again a minute later and then James Clarke, who was operating out of the full-forward berth, made it 0-3 to 0-1.
Murphy extended Sligo's lead from a free in the 13th minute before Galvin scored from play to keep NUIG in touch.
But the pattern of the game was now swinging very much in the home side's favour and a brilliant long range point by Brian Egan underlined their supremacy. Egan found the range again from a superb 45m free in the 21st minute and Murphy was on target from another free to give Sligo a 0-7 to 0-2 lead.
O'Deasmhunaigh replied with a point for the Students but two terrific scores by the influential Sweeney stretched Sligo's advantage to six points.
Freeman got a score from play for NUIG just before the break but still there was little to suggest that the Students could get back into contention after the interval.
However, Freeman's goal following a free-flowing build-up seven minutes into the second half changed the complexion of the contest.
Suddenly, the visitors began to believe there was something to play for and points in quick succession by Galvin (free) and Murtagh (2) had them on level terms by the 44th minute.
It was the wake-up call that Sligo needed and they replied with a well-worked score by Brian Egan to regain the lead a minute later.
NUIG continued to make much of the running, however, and edged in front with points from Freeman and Shane Nally. It was now all to play for and Sligo showed plenty of resolve as they battled back to regain control.
Murphy fired over the equaliser from a free in the 50th minute and the Coolera/Strandhill youngster was on the mark again two minutes later, this time picking off a good point from play after Brendan Egan and Mark Breheny had combined to create the opening.
With just a point between the sides, Sligo needed an insurance score and once again it was Murphy who came up with the goods, curling over a free from the left wing to seal the Yeats' County's second win in the competition.
B McGovern, A Brennan, J Martyn, J Kelly; N Ewing, A McIntyre, B Curran; J Clarke (0-1), E Mullen; Brendan Egan, N Murphy (0-5, 4f), S McManus; B Egan (0-3,1f), M Breheny (0-1, 1f), K Sweeney (0-4). SUBS: P Greene for McGovern (half time), K Cawley for Ewing (half time), C Harrison for Brennan (44 mins), S Gilmartin for McManus (50 mins)
D O'Sullivan, A Tierney, C McDonald, K Crowe; G Sweeney, D Gavin, C Walsh; J Maloney, Shane Moran; S Nally (0-1), F O'Deasmhunaigh (0-1), C Freeman (1-2); I Galvin (0-2,1f), M Kelly (0-1), K Murtagh (0-2,1f). SUBS: E O'Hocaigh for Maloney (10 mins), E Troy for Walsh (23 mins), N Freeman for Tierney (35 mins), Sean Moran for Kelly (52 mins), C Brennan for Troy (58 mins)
REFEREE: D Corcoran, Mayo