Corinthians 13 Sligo 8

By Rob Murphy/Knockon.ie

Photos by Jonathan Curran/SportsingOccasions.ie

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Corinthians are now the most successful side in Heineken Connacht Junior Cup history after Sunday’s hard fought victory over Sligo at the Sportsground.

Their five point victory brought them a first title since 2006 and their 14th in total moving them one clear of UCG in the all time honours list.

Sligo came looking to bookend a strong season with a major honour but went away knowing some of their old failings were once again exposed.

Corinthians won the battle of the forwards in the tussle and that proved pivotal in helping them fend off a Sligo side that was arguably more creative and carried more of a spark.

This wasn’t a classic but the final ten minute flourish from both sides was gripping to say the least. A frenetic period of end to end rugby as Sligo chased the game and Corinthians looked to finish it off.

From the outset, the contest appeared finely balanced. Paddy Pearson was always going to be an integral part of his sides endeavours and he kicked Sligo three clear on ten minutes having missed his first kick at goal.

Barry O’Sullivan also missed one before he found his range, that second kick was way out on the stand touchline and brilliantly struck. Corinthians had an edge in the scrums and were mauling to good affect.

A major turing point came deep in first half injury time when Sligo were under their posts attempting to clear their lines and with Billy Leahy on the ground Peter Mullan’s pass from the base was short allowing Hugh Griffin to pounce and O’Sullivan to score from the kick ahead.

It was a cruel blow to Sligo, especially to their strong number eight but it proved to be massive seven points for Corinthians. The Galway side started the second half well but the lineout superiority from John Dileen and Seamus Murphy and their strong maul wasn’t producing enough at that point.

That gave time for Sligo to spark. David Gerrity started a move from full back, the tall and evasive Ted Mulvanny took it on out wide and beat his man. Then Leahy found the excellent Simon Coulter on the blindside wing and the flanker cantered home.

That made it 10-8 with a quarter of the contest remaining, Corinthians responded with a 20 metre lineout and maul that emphasized their superiority in that department and O’Sullivan struck a subsequent penalty to stretch the lead to five.

In Sean Gerrity (brother of the Sligo full back David) Corinthian’s had the games man of the match. The flanker covered more ground and made more tackles than anyone. Late on in the contest, Richie Forbes also made himself a hero as his tackle and turnover on Jordan Farrington proved to be a try-saving last play of the game.

Corinthians captain Ciaran Dunne lifted the trophy for the 14th time thanks to a fine all round defensive effort from his side. Barry McCann, Alan Walsh and replacement Alan O’Toole were all crucial in that regards and without being spectacular, the entire team delivered a conclusive display on Easter Sunday.

Corinthians: R Ferguson; K Russell, R Forbes, C Begley, C Dunne; B O’Sullivan, H Grffin; B Barrett, A Walsh, C O’Shea; J Dilleen, S Murphy; M Byrne, S Gerrity, B McCann.

Replacement: A O’Toole, C Raftery.

Sligo: D Gerrity; T Mulvany, J Farrington, G Foley, J Ripon; P Pearson, B Leahy; A McHale, G Conneely, J East; J Wilson, J Bowes; C Culhane, S Coulter, P Mullan.

Replacement: T Sweeneym A Spring and R Mannion

Ref: P Jennings

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