Sat 9th feb was the day and the kick off was 2pm and the battlefield, ballyshannon versus ballyshannon in the their second game in Sligo women’s RFC Ulster cup campaign. After their win on tues last, Sligo were still feeling the wounds but were battle ready and took to the pitch and from the start were on ballyshannon like a moth to the flame.

Sligo WomenRachel Gordon stepped up to the plate and took the drop kick, not an easy job but nothing that she cant handle. Her attitude and fearlessness has been great as the loss of lauren mcgee as kicker has meant she needed to step in to a pressure situation. a fish to water one would say.Unfortunately for ballyshannon, their kick behind the sligo defensive line was quickly gathered by full back Jacqui mulligan and she did her usual dodging around the defence and put in a try within the first minute. Placement under the uprights meant that it was an easy conversion for Amy Gerrity, with that magic boot. Gerrity was entering on to pitch out her usual position of number in to first centre. A natural transition for her with her straight line drives and strength.

The next try was much the same but sligo forwards got to have an input, ensuring securing possession at the ruck, the space their and the speed behind her, mulligan puts down another try under the uprights. It was 12-0 now. Sligo were expecting a retaliation from ballyshannon but sligo’s strength up front was driving them into their half, with big hits from the sligo pack. Some quick hands got the ball to mulligan and she got the downward pressure under the posts. 19-0 and the gap was starting to grow ever bigger.

It was a great day out for the sligo forwards, particularly at the line out. Sligo didn’t have any of their own line outs but robbed or upset any ballyshannon’s line out. Grainne McGuire really out did herself and returned to form. Not forgetting the lifters Karen Leydon and Siobhan Kilcoyne who were flying second row McGuire into the air with ease and fluency. This robbing was what gave possession to the sligo backs, moving the ball wide, running great crashes from the likes of Stef savage, Kilcoyne and Leydon. The ball made it back into mulligan’s hands and she safely delivered her fickle egg shaped teammate home with downward pressure under the posts. Gerrity silly converts and sligo are now 26 nil.

One would think that had to be the final score but it was still within the first 30 minutes. Sligo weren’t done yet. The try gods were really shining strong in ballyshannon but not for the home team. Off the restart, ballyshannon were beginning to gain confidence but sligo assertion at ruck time applied pressure that ballyshannon could not handle. Giving scrums to sligo was the eventual creation of the next try in the 22. It must be said at this point that the sligo scrum was holding well, with savage organising them from the hooker position, with strong and confident vocals. Moore at her new found position, 8 trapped the ball with ease thanks to her second rows Kinsella and McGuire feeding the ball to her, making scrum half’s job easy to get the ball to out half Mairead Keane, yet another new position for her but she took up the task with an iron clad fist. She bossed it and kept pele in line with her calm vocals and her brave and determined drives. She was all over the pitch. Winning rucks via the packs strength allowed second centre Goodwin to get in on the game, with some great offloads in contacts, ensuring she was making space for winger Gordon to skirt up the wing and make yards for sligo. It was this display of strength that created the try for the solid hands of Gordon, always in support and tried the ball just to the right of the posts. Gerrity knocks it over the posts and sligo were now 33 nil up.

Sligo’s continuos dominance and pressure was ensuring ballyshannon were conceding penalties. It was off a penalty that fed the ball to Goodwin, who took the ball into contact and offloaded to mulligan who gets her 5th try of the game and Gerrity converts to bring the score to 40 nil. That was the score going into half time and the ballyshannon team talk was going to have the be a good one.

Sligo were on a try high and it wasn’t over yet. With some dominant line out work feeding the back line, making yards. Forwards securing rucks, with some pick and drives from the pack, with Moore or Leydon leading a few and flanker Kilfeather in support, making some powerful bouncer work at the ruck time. This was making essential space for the backs and scrums half was able to slip through from some great passes between the back line. The mountain that ballyshannon had to climb was now huge with the score at 47 nil.

The next sequence of play was showcasing prop Siobhan Kilcoynes hands. It was like she had glue on her hands the way she would catch the ball with ease, suck in her defender and make space for her teammate to steam roll through. On this instance, it was winger Claire mc manus who was to profit from it, making her speedster run up the right wing around the defence and put it under he posts. Gerrity kicks her conversion like she’s been doing it all her life. The score is 54 nil.

Two more tries were put in from Mairead Keane, from a patented explosive drive through the defence. Mulligan gets a 6th from a left wing dash. The final score was 68 nil and sligo continue their ulster cup campaign next week against Cavan.


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