Sligo Grammar School 22             

Roscommon CBS 14       

Report by Kevin Egan

Sligo Grammar school will make the trip to the Sportsground for the Top Oil Connacht Senior Cup final for the first time in six years next month, after a hat-trick of tries from centre Hubert Gilvarry powered them to victory over Roscommon CBS in an enthralling semi-final clash played out at their home field this afternoon.

Roscommon CBS made history in 2019 by reaching their first ever Senior Cup final and they were quietly fancied coming into this contest, with ten of the team from that final on duty here today. Yet they were hesitant in the early stages and struggled to stay on the right side of referee Shane Toolan, with the first eight penalties of the game all going the way of the home side.

Kacper Palamarczuk was the dominant performer for the home side, leading the way in terms of tackles and carries, while he and Matthew O’Hara were outstanding in the lineout. After James Whelan was pinged for a crooked throw on his very first put in, the Grammar school had a 100% retention rate on their own throw, giving them a very solid platform on which to build this victory.

A kick from Gilvarry was the only score until the game seemed to turn decisively against the CBS in the 27th minute. Ireland international Jack Tucker was deemed to have tackled from an offside position as Sligo tried to drive over in the right corner, and after he was shown a yellow card, Sligo Grammar kicked for the corner, worked the ball through the phases and a powerful low dive from Gilvarry got him over the line.

The response from the CBS was outstanding, as they played some exceptional rugby in the lead up to half-time. Mark Purcell made good ground down the left touchline to set up an attacking platform in that corner, and with his first act after coming back out of the sin bin, Tucker drove over to cut the gap.

Purcell converted the try and immediately, the CBS were back on the front foot. Good work from Michael Dunne and Ryan O’Keeffe on the right wing helped them to work their way back up to the Sligo ’22 and when Sam Atumonyogo had to carry the ball back across his own line and touch down, they had a five-metre scrum in stoppage time.

Three phases later Darren Gately got over in the corner, and an immaculate touchline conversion from Purcell made it 14-10 at the interval.

With Sligo Grammar on the ropes, Roscommon CBS needed to put them away in the third quarter and they had their chances – three times they camped out on the Sligo goal line in that quarter, but some incredible defensive play from the home pack, with Palamarczuk again to the fore, held them out.

Having survived the onslaught, Sligo finally got back on the attack and they made it count, with Gilvarry again going over after a lovely sidestep in heavy traffic. That left Roscommon CBS with just over 15 minutes to save their season and they certainly put their shoulder to the wheel in their bid to do so, with flankers Lorcán Maher and Ciarán Corcoran getting through a mountain of work.

Sligo’s defensive play has been their trump card all year however and again their structure, focus and physical strength stood up to the test. They held play in the middle third of the field and as the CBS began to take occasional risks in a bid to try and make something happen, they left a sliver of light for Gilvarry to attack from their own 10 metre line.

The elusive centre didn’t need to be asked twice as he danced through two tackles and then sprinted for the try line, diving over to complete his hat-trick and set up a date with Garbally College on Wednesday week in Galway.

Scoring Sequence: Gilvarry pen, 20 mins, 3-0; Gilvarry try & con, 27 mins, 10-0; Tucker try & Purcell con, 34 mins, 10-7; Gately try & Purcell con, 35+2 mins, 10-14; Gilvarry try & con, 55 mins, 17-14; Gilvarry try, 70+1 mins, 22-14.

Sligo Grammar School: Isaac Ellison; Sam Atumonyogo, Hubert Gilvarry, William Whelan, Sean Ndego; Darragh Feehily, Jacob Fleming; Sean Nee, James Whelan, Mark Irwin; David John Barlow, Matthew O’Hara; Fiachra Staunton, Adam Hunter, Kacper Palamarczuk.

Subs used: Mark McGlynn for Atumonyogo (half-time), Tynan Maxwell for Irwin (70 mins).

Roscommon CBS: Michael Dunne; Ryan O’Keeffe, Cian Glennon, Mark Purcell, Kaylem Hollian; Darren Gately, Aodha Hession; Tom Farrell, Roddie McGuinness, Jack Tucker; Eoghan Kiernan, Ronan Lambe; Lorcán Maher, Ciarán Corcoran, Jack Keegan.

Sub. used: Anthony O’Gorman for Keegan (27 mins).

Referee: Shane Toolan

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