Sligo Senior Mens' XV showcased an impressive performance in their second outing of the 2023/24 season, clashing against Galwegians RFC in the Connacht Senior League. The match concluded with a resounding 41-12 victory, as Sligo outscored their opponents with a remarkable tally of 7 tries to 2.
The game unfolded at Crowley Park in Galway, where the morning mist had lifted, offering ideal conditions for an exhilarating display of running rugby. With both teams taking the field, the absence of strong breezes set the stage for a compelling showdown.
The breakthrough moment arrived just ten minutes into the match. Initiating from a lineout on Galwegians' 10-meter line, Matthew Earley's accurate throw reached Archie Maclean. A swift set maul progressed towards the 22-meter mark, with Brendan Cunningham breaking down the blindside. He then linked back to Daire Byrne, who sprinted across the right flank to secure the first try. Euan Brown's successful conversion set Sligo on the scoreboard.
Galwegians attempted to regain momentum, aiming for a penalty kick from inside Sligo's half after 18 minutes, but the attempt veered wide. Brown collected the kick, executing a powerful clearance that granted Sligo territorial advantage within the 'Wegians' 22.
Capitalizing on their pressure, Sligo extended their lead. In the 24th minute, the dominant Sligo eight turned over a 'Wegians' 5-meter defensive scrum. A quick shift infield allowed Philip Carter to evade two tacklers and touch down near the left post. Brown's accurate conversion added to Sligo's growing advantage.
With the restart, Sligo resumed their offensive strategy. A well-executed box kick from Cunningham followed a secured drop-off. Louis McVitty capitalized on a loose ball, embarking on a dynamic run that brought him into midfield. Telling carries from Cunningham and James O’Hehir paved the way for a play to the left, culminating in McVitty's corner finish.
The bonus point was secured before halftime, as Ambrose Bamber's expert control at the base of a 5-meter scrum set the stage for Cunningham's try, marking Sligo's fourth. The halftime score stood at 24-0 in favor of Sligo.
Early in the second half, Sligo's momentum persisted. A long clearance into Sligo's 22 was deftly handled by Carter, who managed to link up with McVitty. The winger's sprint upfield and well-timed pass to Finn Bamber resulted in Sligo's fifth try, solidifying their lead.
Galwegians managed to get on the scoreboard, intercepting a speculative Sligo pass and allowing winger Josh Munn to dash in from the 10-meter line, making the score 5-29.
Undeterred, Sligo continued to dominate. On the hour mark, try number 6 materialized. A precise throw from Ben Hynes found Bamber in a lineout, and a resulting maul allowed Byrne to break away and score from 15 meters out.
Sligo concluded their impressive display with a final try from debutant Ethan Faitaua in the 70th minute. Despite a late score from Galwegians' Michael Duffy, the victory belonged to the Yeats County men.
Looking ahead, Sligo's next challenge awaits as they travel to Galway once again to face Corinthians RFC in the third round of the Connacht Senior League. The anticipated match is scheduled for Thursday evening (07 Sep) at 8:00pm in Cloonacauneen.
Sligo Lineup: Darragh Feehily, Louis McVitty, Philip Carter, Finn Bamber, Jacob Fleming, Euan Brown, Brendan Cunningham, Kuba Wojtkowicz, Matthew Earley (Captain), Tom Gormley, Archie Maclean, Michael McMorrow, James O’Hehir, Daire Byrne, Ambrose Bamber. Replacements: Ben Hynes, Eoghan Lang, Ciaran Cummins, Brian West, Ethan Faitaua, Sean Gilvarry