Top Oil Schools Senior Cup;

Summerhill College, Sligo V Sligo Grammar

In a historic meeting, Summerhill College, Sligo faced Sligo Grammar in the final round of pool fixtures in the 2014/15 Top Oil Schools Senior Cup. The stakes couldn’t have been higher in what was effectively a winner takes all clash between the local rivals. A win for either side would see them join Garbally College in the Top Oil Schools Senior Cup Final on March 18th in the Sportsground.

148 564The game was played at a frenetic pace in the opening stages with both sides applying early pressure to no avail. Summerhill looked dangerous with ball in hand and were able to string a number of phases together bringing them deep into the ‘Grammar 22, however, superb breakdown work resulted in a penalty which allowed TJ Forde to clear the lines. ‘Grammar gradually played their way into the game using the wind advantage to great effect with Paul Kilcoyne & Ryan Feehily keeping Summerhill pinned back.

A fantastic counterattack from right winger, Ronan Molloy, enabled ‘Grammar to build momentum inside the Summerhill 22 and a perceptive chip kick from Out Half, Paul Kilcoyne put the Summerhill back three under huge pressure allowing Ryan Feehily to touch down in the right hand corner for the games’ opening try. TJ Forde nailed the difficult touchline conversion.

With the breeze at their backs Sligo Grammar would have expected to kick on but it was Summerhill who upped their intensity and following a series of committed close in drives using their impressive pack, Cillian Gallagher touched down for an important score, which Jack Keegan converted to level the game at half time.

With the wind now firmly at their backs Summerhill started the second half with renewed impetus. Their lineout excellence and ability to string together numerous penalties was again evident as they forced ‘Grammar into conceding at the breakdown. Jack Keegan was narrowly wide with the resultant penalty but Summerhill maintained the pressure and Keegan calmly slotted another opportunity a few minutes later to put Summerhill into a deserved lead for the first time in the game.

145 500The ebb and flow of the game continued and ‘Grammar came back into it forcing Summerhill into conceding a penalty at ruck time which TJ Forde was unlucky to see drift wide from 40 metres out. The momentum, however, was very much with ‘Grammar and their potent backline made inroads into Summerhill territory time and again. The screw was turning and ‘Grammar’s aggressive defensive pressure forced Summerhill into conceding a 5m scrum. With a dominant scrum, the Mall based school attacked right and some threatening footwork and a well – timed pass from Ryan Feehily put Daire Byrne in at the corner. TJ Forde again landed a superb touchline conversion again to leave the score at 14 – 10 to ‘Grammar.

There looked to be no way back for Summerhill, but to their immense credit, they clawed back some field position and turned to their pack again who surged at the ‘Grammar line for phase after phase only to be denied by resolute defending. However, they were denied illegally and Summerhill bravely decided to tap and go. That brave decision proved crucial to the eventual outcome of the game as Ciaran Cassidy crashed over after a series of forward drives. Jack Keegan narrowly failed with the conversion to leave the minimum between the teams (15 – 14) with only minutes remaining.

There was yet more drama as ‘Grammar managed to force a last minute penalty following some great defensive work form their pack at the breakdown. Unfortunately for ‘Grammar TJ Forde narrowly missed the shot at goal and Summerhill successfully defended for the remaining minute of play, booking a place in the final against Garbally at the Sportsground on March 18th.

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