Castlebar played Galwegians in Cloondeash on Sunday afternoon in round nine of the Connacht J1 League. This was a typical winter day with a sharp southwest breeze keeping everyone on their toes. The rugby reflected this with a very intense and lively game. Both teams are mid table but Galwegians had the better of Castlebar in the corresponding fixture last season. Unusually they arrived without a viable front row and referee Paul Jennings decreed that the scrums would be uncontested.
The game started at a dynamic pace with play moving from end to end without any great threat of a score. Galwegians were playing the better rugby through fine work from Colin Flannery and Alex O’Sullivan when at the end of the first quarter they were awarded a penalty for an infringement outside the Castlebar 22. The Galwegians scrum half Ben Draper took it quickly then broke on the blindside before offloading to Tom Quinn who went over in the corner for the opening try of the game. Ross Shaughnessy, however, missed the conversion. This seemed to spur on Castlebar who moved upfield with purpose through powerful running from Eugene Butterworth, Ger Prendergast and Alex Goor. Tadhg Kirby made a fine break through the Galwegians defence which led to Mark Staunton crossing the Galwegians line under severe pressure only to have a five metre scrum awarded as the ball was not visible. Christy Cusack broke from the base of the resultant scrum to touch down and level the match. Fintan Casey was unsuccessful with the conversion attempt. Castlebar continued to pressure Galwegians, resulting in a penalty for a high tackle on Tadhg Kirby. Richie Feeney was unsuccessful, however. As the game stayed in the Galwegians half Martin Mulkerring misjudged a ball to knock on and give Castlebar ascrum and a chance of another score. This resulted in a penalty for offside which was taken quickly and the ball fed to Eugene Butterworth who burst through the Galwegians defece and offloaded to Tadhg Kirby,who touched down under the posts. Richie Feeney converted to leave the halftime score 12-5 to Castlebar.
The second half was as intense as the first. For Castlebar Ger Prendergast, David Staunton and Paddy Flannelly were putting in great performances while Jason Keane was working well and combined well with the resurgent Christy Cusack at scrum half. Their good work released Eugene Butterworth for Castlebar’s third try when the powerful South African touched down under the posts. Full back Richie Feeney again converted. Castlebar were now looking for the fourth try and bonus point but the Galwegians’ effort did not wane and when Daire Mulgrew made a great break everyone thought it had come but for great tackling from Lloyd Cole and Terry O’Donnell who kept him out.
National school rugby blitz
Ballina Rugby hosted its first Tag Rugby Blitz of the season for national schools on November 26. The day was a great success, with about 150 athletes making up 12 teams from 4 local schools. It was brilliant to see such interest in the sport. The schools have all participated over the last eight weeks in the tag rugby programme and the improvement was evident in how they played at the blitz. Basic rugby skills including passing have developed well and support play was outstanding. There were some great tries scored by both boys and girls. Some very skilful players and schools were on display, who played with determination while showing their “fair play” skills. It was good to see each competitor leave with a smile on their face.
Well done to all the players who took part and we look forward to seeing you at the next Tag Rugby Blitz. Thanks also to all the teachers and schools for their assistance and support throughout the season and at the blitz. A big thank you also to the referees: Sligo Youth Development Officers Gavin Foley and Andre Taurewera and Regional Development Officer Lyndon Jones. Schools who took part: Foxford National School, Crossmolina National School, Scoil Padraig Boys School, Rehins National School.
Secondary school rugby blitz
Ballina Rugby hosted a ten-a-side rugby blitz for first-year secondary school students on December 3. There were over 100 athletes in eight teams from six secondary schools. Three schools travelled from County Sligo to participate. All teams arrived eager and ready for battle and it was great to see such enthusiasm especially in the cold and frosty conditions. The teams were evenly matched, which made for a competitive and spirited blitz. All teams exhibited great team work and skills which resulted in the scoring of some super tries. The commitment in defence was outstanding also. Their ability to follow directions and decisions by the referees and teachers reflected good discipline both on and off the field. Overall it was a great day, a lot of fun and impressive to see some very skilful rugby players on display. Well done to all the players who took part and we look forward to seeing you at the next rugby blitz. Thanks also to all the teachers and schools for their assistance and support throughout the blitz. A big thank you also to the referees: Sligo Youth Development Officers Gavin Foley and Regional Development Officer Lyndon Jones. The schools who took part were St Muredach’s College, Ballina; St Tiernan’s, Crossmolina; Colaiste Iasaigh, Summer Hill Sligo; Moyne College, Ballina; St Mary’s College, Enniscrone.