Galwegians Under 17 Take Connacht League Honours After Tight Battle With Sligo

Sportsground, Sunday Feb 13th 2011

U17Final300Galwegians Under 17 rugby squad capped off a long and tough league campaign with a win over arch rivals Sligo in the Connacht U17 League final on Sunday.
Playing in a warm Spring sunshine, Galwegians had the slightest of edges in a game where points were hard to come by. Galwegians opened the scoring in the first half with fine penalty kicked by Out Half Ciaran Gaffney, only to have it cancelled out by Sligo shortly after. Continuous pressure applied by Galwegians probing back line and combative pack ensured several more kickable penalties, but none could be described as easy and the Galway team failed to break the stalemate.
The pattern after the restart was similar, with Galwegians tantalisingly close to crossing the Sligo line on several occasions, only to be thwarted by an uncompromising defense. Nevertheless, pressure eventually told with another penalty from Gaffney and a superbly taken drop goal by Full Back Paddy Kitt. At 9-3, Sligo’s six point deficit left them with no other option than to throw the kitchen sink at Galwegians for the last five minutes. A series of free kicks inside their opponents 22 had Sligo camped on the Galwegians line. But the Galway defense was unyielding and deservedly held out for a memorable victory.
In lifting the league title, Galwegians reversed a 0-22 home defeat to Sligo in an earlier round. This experience and successive hard-fought sudden-death encounters against Buccaneers and an excellent Westport side on the road to the final were what forged the strength and sharpness of the Sky Blues. Overcoming those trials paid off in spades in the final.

Under 17 is one of the premier grades in Connacht youth rugby, and all sides except Galwegians and Sligo kicked off in the first round of the Cup competition this weekend. More great youth rugby is surely on the cards in weeks to come.

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