The Supermacs Connacht Schools Cup kicked off this week, last year?s finalists Colaiste Iognaid and Sligo Grammar met in the far north, and league champions Marist Athlone ventured south to Calasanctius in Oranmore.

While league top-dogs Marist and Grammar both won their respective fixtures, they didn?t do so without a fright.IMG_6311_525x640

Heavily-favoured Marist couldn?t post more than three points in the first half against the sea-siders, Calasanctius every bit the measure with three to their name too. Parity continued through to the 60minute mark before Athlone kicked into fifth gear. Another five minutes and Marist coach Mick Loftus may have broken out in a cold sweat.

Loftus’ squad answered the half-time call (albeit 20 minutes after hearing it) and ran in two slick tries and a draw-and-pass third to put Loftus at ease. Calansanctius’ forwards (formidable throughout in defence) leased the handbrake late and shunted over for the afternoon’s final score.

The Jes? (Colaiste Iognaid) departed Galway City high on expectation and backed by an historic rugby pedigree. Sligo welcomed them half-asleep.

IMG_6303_640x427Grammar, who led league winners Marist in the December 13 Ballyhaunis final at half-time, found wave after wave of Jes? forwards popping up in the midfield not only with numbers in tow, but a point to prove and a belly full of fire. Sligo coach Simon Galvan watched as his young charges weathered the storm surrendering only three points through a Rob Butler penalty 22minutes in. Buoyed by a vocal local crowd, Galvan?s crew returned the onslaught but had to rely on the individual efforts of a fleet-footed Sligo outhalf who beat one in broken play, and weaved himself a 26m passage to touch down 14m from the lefthand touch.

While the conversion went astray Sligo took two kickable second-halfIMG_6307_640x348 opportunities before the final whistle and finished 11-3 up to advance beyond the quarter-finals.

Garbally meet The Bish’ (St Joseph’s town), and Rice College Westport host border neighbours Clifden Community College in the outstanding quarter-final fixtures.

In the Junior Cup, Rice College got off to a flyer against St Gerald’s of Castlebar. Rice College (Westport) ran in four tries (converting one) over their first round quarry, Keith Moon, Niall Feehan, Diarmuid McGreal and Oisin McNulty the tryscorers. 

Tom McHale dictated play from 10, and will have to be on his game to counter any territorial encampments come semi-final time. 

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Rice College are the current junior cup champions and no strangers to the Sportsground. They hope to make a habit of winning away from home, Rice College manager Joe Corcoran said, and eagerly await the outcomes of other quarter-final clashes.

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