Sligo Grammar School claim Connacht Senior Cup as two late tries see off Marist College
Sligo Grammar School 28 Marist College 7
Sligo Grammar School’s status as the undisputed kingpins of schools’ rugby out west was confirmed at the Sportsground in Galway as they overpowered and overwhelmed a resilient and competitive but youthful Marist College side, with two late tries crowning an otherwise tense and tight cup final.
Marist College, who had six of last year’s Junior Cup-winning team in their starting line-up, caused the shock of the season when they turned over Summerhill College in the semi-final, and they carried that form into this game by forcing Sligo Grammar on to the back foot early on, playing all the rugby for the first quarter in or around the Grammar 22.
They failed to make it count on the scoreboard, however, coming closest when Danny Reid couldn’t quite ground the ball in the left corner after a Conor Sheehan blockdown set them up with possession within ten metres of the Grammar School line.
Sligo Grammar, who were chasing a second consecutive league and cup double, made them pay a heavy price for their failure to convert that chance when out of nothing, winger George Barlow danced out of trouble on the halfway line and then suddenly exploded past two tacklers to leave himself with a clear run underneath the posts.
Earl Norris added the points and followed up with a penalty, but the Athlone side gave themselves a huge boost with the last play of the first half when James Clarke and Tom Sheehan combined to send Conor Dowling over in the corner, with Charlie O’Carroll adding a touchline conversion.
Sligo Grammar’s control of the tie was total in the second half, however, as they undid Marist’s control of the breakdown and made hard yards at close range through good carries from players like Diarmaid O’Connell, Ambrose Bamber and captain Conor Creaven.
Two further penalties from Norris gave them a little bit more cushion and as they emptied the bench and brought on fresh legs to keep the tempo high, they eventually sliced through a tired Marist defence to crown their win with late tries from replacement scrum-half Jacob Kilcoyne and loosehead Arann Platt.
Sligo Grammar School: A Harte; D Holmes, G Murtagh, C Creaven, G Barlow; E Norris, G McGinty; A Platt, Q Moughty, J Deegan; M Ryan, P Wright; D O’Connell, D McCloat, A Bamber.
Replacements: J Kilcoyne for Norris (7-10 mins, blood) M Hunter for Wright (half-time), Kilcoyne for McGinty (52), F Ellison for Ryan (67), M Holmes for D Holmes (70)
Marist College: D Reid; C Dowling, T Cotton, T Sheehan, T Burke; J Clarke, C O’Carroll; L Cassidy, E Naughton, B Foxe; C Sheehan, L Giles; P Egan, C Kelly, N Tallon.
Replacements: E McMickan for Foxe (half-time), Foxe for Naughton (50), É McDonnell for Burke (54), S Doyle for Kelly (62), V Meyer for Sheehan (69)
Referee: Johnny Quinn