Saturday 18 November 2017

O'Hare steps up to plate as Galwegians win thriller

Galwegians 33 Buccaneers 28 Heineken Connacht Junior Plate Final

Connacht branch president Adrian Leddy presents the trophy to Galwegians
Connacht branch president Adrian Leddy presents the trophy to Galwegians

The Heineken Junior Plate final served up a very exciting contest as Galwegians and Buccaneers shared eight tries in a game where the lead changed hands seven times at the sun drenched Sportsground on Sunday.

Twice in the second half the game was tied, at 18 points each on 50 minutes and at 28 points apiece on 76 minutes. At that point, extra time was on the cards but in a game of top quality tries, the young guns of Galwegians had one final trick in their bag as a sweeping move saw Michael O'Hare score the match winning try in the corner right at the very end.

Galwegians led 15-13 at half time, with centre Gearoid Armstrong scoring two tries but Buccaneers responded with one from Nick Purcell and a couple of penalties from Dave Fagan. However, a late penalty from Ross Shaughnessy restored Galwegians' lead.

Early in the second half, Buccaneers got back in front through Sean Flynn's try and as the scores flowed, Scott Flanagan also added five points on the hour mark to keep his side 23-21.

The final 10 minutes proved to be thrilling with Galwegian Ronan Burke scoring a brilliant try to put his side in front before a turnover from Eoin Gavin and a well placed grubber kick from Fagan set up the speedy Harry Hughes for a try that levelled the match.

That seemed to set up extra time but O'Hare and Galwegians had other ideas and won the game late on with a another superb move.

Scorers - Galwegians: G Armstrong 2 tries, R Burke, M O'Hare 1 try each; R Shaughnessy 3 pen, 2 con. Buccaneers: N Purcell, S Flynn, S Flanagan and H Hughes 1 try each; D Fagan 1 con and 2 pens.

Buccaneers - G Costello; D Griffiths, S Flynn, B Walsh, H Hughes; D Fagan, N Purcell; K Grehan, S Flanagan, B Campbell; R Byrne, S Byrne (captain); P Hennessy, E Galvin and J Donoghue. Reps: B Pears for Walsh; N Flynn for Hennessy; G Fallon for Purcell.

Galwegians - R Burke; G Armstrong, D Symes (captain), P Finn, S Madden; R Shaughnessy, D Quill; C Gavin, C Dunne, K Kyne; S Perkins, C O'Malley; E Touhey, R Moore and E Hannon. Reps: M Fox for Gavin, C Mackey for Finn; L McKnight for Perkins; M O'Hare for Madden and A Byrne for Hannon.

Ref - S McElwee

Ruthless Sligo burn off Ballinasloe to take title

U-18 Cup Final

Sligo beat Ballinasloe 50-7 inn the decider on a sunny Easter Monday in the decider at the Sportsground.

The game featured a number of players from the recent Top Oil Schools Cup final between Garbally College and Summerhill College.

Sligo stormed out of the blocks, regaining the kick-off and carrying hard at the Ballinasloe defence through a number of phases before TJ Forde crashed over in the corner.

Sligo kept up the pressure, with line breaks from Daire Byrne and recently capped Ireland U-18 centre Daragh Cummins bringing them deep into the Ballinasloe ‘22’. A series of pick and goes resulted in Sligo’s second try from second-row Cian Cassidy, converted by out half and captain Jack Keegan.

Ballinasloe could not get a foothold in the game, and a pumped-up Sligo added a third try through No 8 Jake Sexton following a five-metre scrum. Keegan again converted.

Eventually Ballinasloe managed to string some phases together, and  following an excellent lineout drive, No 8 Oisin Lyons broke off the back and showed fantastic power and pace to brush aside several tackles and score form 30 metres. The try was converted by captain Simon Keller, which brought the score to 19-7, and Ballinasloe were now firmly back in the contest.

However, their rally was short-lived as Sligo scored a fourth try. They countered from a Ballinasloe clearance and loosehead prop Hadi Mousa made excellent ground up the right wing for tighthead Mark Keegan to pick and crash over from close range. That brought the score to 24-7 at half-time.

Sligo were in a ruthless mood and they started the second half in the same vein as the first with Liam McElhinney crossing in the corner following an excellent lineout maul.

A score from Daire Byrne quickly followed after quick hands in midfield from Cummins which put Sligo totally out of sight at 36-7.

Ballinasloe rallied but for all their endeavour could not force a consolation score. In fact Sligo added another two tries from Keegan and Byrne, the latter following a brilliant chip through from Ryan Feehily.

The final score was 50-7 and Sligo were Connacht U-18 Champions.

Irish Independent

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