Sligo Grammar School 28 - 7 Marist College
A barnstorming second-half display saw Sligo Grammar secure back-to-back Connacht Schools' Senior A Cup titles, overcoming Marist College in a wet and windy Sportsground.
It was the Athlone side who started the better, playing much of the first ten minutes inside Grammar’s 22. However, a stern defence saw Grammar repeatedly finding a way to keep the Marist out.
In the fifteenth minute of the game, the defending champions found their own attacking foothold. George Barlow was the talisman, as he showed brilliant footwork to break through several tackles in midfield and find himself in open ground.
From there, the winger made no mistake and placed down beyond the Marist line in the Bohermore end. It didn’t take long for Grammar to build on that lead and make it 10-0, with Earl Norris taking an easy three points after Marist were punished for not releasing in the tackle in front of their own posts.
The young Athlone side, with six players still in transition year, showed great spirit to fight back before the break and get their sole try of the game. It came after James Clarke got the ball outside via a skip pass, where Conor Dowling showed a clean set of heels to Grammar’s defence to cross the whitewash and make it 10-7 at the break.
Early in the second half, Grammar’s strength in the breakdown began to show though, as well as their game management experience.
Earl Norris popped over two penalties to make it 16-7 shortly after half-time. From there, Marist had to chase the game, but Grammar seemed to have an answer to every question asked of them.
With ten minutes remaining, Jacob Kilcoyne's quick thinking saw him take advantage of a loose ball in broken play and cross the line for the Sligo side, and put the game beyond Marist. Arran Platt added another late on to put the seal on what was a commanding second-half display from the back-to-back champions. Captain Conor Creaven lifted the trophy in front of a delighted crowd, with Grammar once proving to be the side to beat in Connacht school's rugby.
Sligo Grammar School: Alex Harte; Dara Holmes, Gerard Murtagh, Conor Creaven, George Barlow; Earl Norris, Gareth McGinty; Arann Platt, Quentin Moughty, Jack Deegan; Matthew Ryan, Paddy Wright; Diarmaid O’Connell, Dylan McCloat, Ambrose Bamber.
Replacements: Jack Kilcoyne for Norris (7-10 mins, blood) Max Hunter for Wright (half-time), Kilcoyne for McGinty (52), Francis Ellison for Ryan (67), Milo Holmes for D Holmes (70)
Marist College: Danny Reid; Conor Dowling, Thomas Cotton, Tom Sheehan, Tom Burke; James Clarke, Charlie O’Carroll; Leon Cassidy, Eoin Naughton, Bobbie Foxe; Conor Sheehan, Luca Giles; Paddy Egan, Callum Kelly, Niall Tallon.
Replacements: Evan McMickan for Foxe (half-time), Foxe for Naughton (50), Éanna McDonnell for Burke (54), Seán Doyle for Kelly (62), Vinnie Meyer for Sheehan (69)
Referee: Johnny Quinn