Early Christmas for Grammar Youngsters

It was a charge of the twilight brigade in yesterday’s Supermac’s Connacht Schools Junior League final, Sligo Grammar pulling out all the stops to run away 20-5 ahead of St Gerald’s in the final quarter.junior41_640x427

Poised to go either way 5-0 in Sligo’s favour at the 60 minute mark, St Gerald’s of Castlebar looked every bit the measure of their northern counterparts. Against them in the second spell, however, was a Baltic breeze stiff but short of a gale, and a Sligo contingent with the luxury of a lead, albeit minimal.

Played in Ballyhaunis after Tuam’s grounds failed to cope with recent rainfall, conditions swung from sunshine to snow throughout, and while the rain stayed away for the most part it was far from pleasant.

junior03_640x427Sligo employed sensible 10-man tactics in the latter stages plugging corners with driving punts and maintaining up-the-jumper possession when in the Castlebar quarter of the pitch.

Skipper and towering talisman Matthew Cosgrove broke the deadlock after a nine-minute campaign metres from the Gerald’s goal-line midway through the second half and used his bulk to crash through the exhausted Castlebar defenders. The conversion went wide for a 10nil gulf but Sligo were able to extend that lead by three shortly after with a penalty from out in front.

Whereas slick interplay from both forward packs deserved commendation, catching and passing in the backs left a little to be desired and time-and-again both Sligo and Castlebar squandered opportunities to convert promising three-quarter forays into points. Desperation from the St Gerald’s inside backs threw up a no-look floating pass just on their 22 which found Cosgrove who made short work of the gap between his starting blocks and the opposition goal-line. The conversion put paid to any realistic chance of a turnaround, but the plucky Mayo men mounted a promising counter and grabbed a consolation try to squeeze the 20-point deficit to 15.junior31_640x427

Connacht Branch President John Carr too braved the elements but retreated inside the Ballyhaunis Rugby Club to present Cosgrove with the Supermac’s Connacht Schools League trophy. Carr spoke highly of both teams’ enthusiasm to throw the ball about in difficult conditions, and said all those concerned had Connacht rugby’s blessing for the Cup competition in the New Year.

Supermac’s community support and brand manager Eilish Fleming said Supermac’s was proud to support underage rugby in Connacht, and congratulated both Sligo Grammar’s juniors and the Athlone Marist seniors on their hardfought victories in Ballyhaunis on Tuesday afternoon.

“Rugby is one of Connacht’s most high-profile pursuits at the moment and it’s only natural Supermac’s as one of the region’s most high-profile brands supports that growth at grassroots level. Congratulations to all both playing and supporting this magnificent finals fixture,” she said.

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Luke O’Donnell

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