- Result: Galwegians Firsts 7 - Sligo 16
- Venue: Strandhill on Sat Sep 3rd 2022
- Competition: Connacht Senior League
Sligo RFC put themselves in pole position to lift the Connacht Senior League title with a hard earned win over a physical Galwegians outfit at Hamilton Park on Saturday, where veteran forward Jason East returned to haunt his former club. With both teams undefeated coming into the game a win was vital for title aspirations, and to the credit of the two squads a wholly committed affair was served to the watching supporters.
Despite the torrential rain on Friday evening , Hamilton Park was in pristine condition when the teams took to the field. The early exchanges were even, with both sides looking for a chink in the armour and it was the home side that landed the first punch with a Euan Brown penalty after 8 minutes. Brown repeated the dose with a second successful penalty after 18 minutes which proved to be to final score of the first half.
Wegians rung the changes at half time bringing on some powerful forwards and upping the physicality but Sligo were resolute in defence. Five minutes after the interval Sligo struck a major blow. A penalty awarded inside the Sligo half was despatched to 5 metres from the ‘Wegians line. Matthew Earley threw to Rob Holian and the Sligo forwards drove towards the line. Jason East broke and fed Earley who touched down in the corner to push Sligo’s lead to 11-0.
Wegians responded and used their hard carrying forwards to pressurise the Sligo defence. Sligo continued to defend manfully but made their task more difficult when a period of ill discipline saw the ref brandish a series of yellow cards. The visitors made the most of the numerical advantage and crashed over in the left corner with a well taken try from newcomer Alan Lagiaia, and a successful conversion by Darragh Kennedy saw them close the gap to 11-7.
With a pep in their step, the Blues sensed they had the momentum and when awarded a penalty in the opposition 22 ,they had the chance to go into the lead for the first time. However they were unable to take advantage as the hosts' defence dug deep.
Sligo then went on to seal the deal with the best move of the day with 10 minutes remaining. From a scrum on their own 22, East released Brendan Cunningham up the right hand side. Cunningham made his way to the halfway line before linking up with Brown. Brown carried well into the Wegians 22 before being hauled down. Quick rucking saw Cunningham feed that man East who was stopped inches short of the line. Another quick recycle saw Shane O’Hehir dot down for the decisive score.
Wegians again tried to respond but Sligo’s excellent defence was not to be breached, So the Blues experienced their first defeat under Brendan Guilfoyle and their tilt at the title is now over, with Sligo clear favourites to regain the crown from last year's winners Ballina.
Wegians final outing is indeed against Ballina this Saturday (2.30pm) in an action-packed day at Crowley Park where there will be no less than 5 games happening throughout the day.