Senior Cup Spoils to Summer at CrowleySCup06

Galwegians won a windy but sun-scorched senior cup final on Sunday 36-10 over Sligo.

The northerners, for the most part, defended the better one-on-one but simply failed to convert the few opportunities they had metres from the blue-line. Galwegians, by contrast, were at their opportunistic best given the skinniest of sniffs.

Sligo errors were punished more often than not with scores, and turnovers – at worst – yielded large tracts of pitch in favour of the Glenina crowd.

The first quarter-hour had all the makings of a post-season afterthought, the crispness long gone on holiday and intensity lulled by balmy temperatures.

Midway through the first half however, Galwegians began to assert dominance, helped no end by a stiff buffeting breeze which availed the two Leader boys Tadgh (12) and Darragh (15) the luxury of going high and letting the weather do the work.

For Sligo, it was hard graft throughout, made harder by their apparent inability to hang on to the ball upright when tackled. Go-forward ball was well within Sligo’s repertoire and they used it to good effect, openside Rory Kerins proving a handful throughout. Too often they sought contact in solitude, and on three occasions Galwegian tacklers (Darragh Leader twice, and Callum O’Connell once) robbed possession clean out of black, red and gold hands.

SCup01Galwegians’ opening score came from a concerted encampment deep in Sligo territory, and after Sligo repelled the battery, blue went wide. Amid the outside backs stood stalwart hooker Conor Muldoon, who fed a lovely ball to nine Martin Connolly, who dragged it back to centre Brian Murphy lurking on the chalk. Murphy did well to rope it in from behind him and crashed over in the left hand corner, Tadgh Leader unable to post two more.

Muldoon featured in Wegians’ second, providing much of the initial muscle to give fellow front-rower Ja’ Naughton a bit of space just right of the right-hand post, where he spun once and jinked again to land beyond the white line. Leader was spot-on from close in.

From the restart Sligo’s Kerins chewed through 35m by himself, his advance halted by a footing issue rather than any desperate Galwegians defence. Had he kept it, he may well have gone all the way for the play of the game.SCup02

Sligo 10 Mark Butler (elusive from go to whoa) had a couple of snipes himself and went close, 2011 Connacht Junior wrecking ball Mata Fifita too went near enough but came to no fruition. Yet another turnover (Leader junior) secured possession for blue two phases later and they hoofed it downfield.

Sligo fullback Hugo Lafitte took on too many, got isolated and Ronan Moore took the proverbial candy from the baby and scarpered 45m to score wide out left. What should have been a Sligo seven-pointer swung the length and wound up five points Wegians’ way.

Ever-present with the salt, Tadgh Leader rubbed two points worth into the wound from the sideline and Wegians went to the break 22nil.

Sligo, backed by an equally-stiff breeze in the second, tore into it from the restart. Coach Simon Galvan hammered home the wind advantage over the halftime break and re-iterated that percentage footy was going their way but snap-decisions and impatience had undone much of their promising toil.

SCup04Sligo landed inevitably on the Galwegians goal-line within minutes, blindside David Heath prominent in the early stages. Once again, however, the trademark blue choke-tackle paid dividends and Sligo was left ruing yet another lapse in concentration.

Outside-back replacement Gary O’Hehir crossed within minutes to close the gap for Sligo, Butler unsuccessful with the kick.

A grubber kick of his own late in the game, however, bounced nicely for him 12m out and on toe-ing it ahead again scored close in. Bullocking Sligo substitute Jamie Bowes, readily identifiable in green headgear (and with several blue jerseys hanging from his bulky frame), made a massive impact in the final 20minutes. He combined well with powerhouse workhorse Paddy Conlon at eight.SCup05

By that stage Galwegians had put the result beyond doubt, and centre Brian Murphy shot through for his own on 80minutes.

Towering lock Brian McLearn hoisted the trophy, which offered some solace and consolation for a Wegians team which dropped off the AIL’s division one radar last weekend.

Callum O’Connell, Danny Deegan, Paul Griffin and Shane Thompstone boast three trophy wins apiece courtesy of Sunday’s Senior Cup final, the Under21 Connacht Cup, the Heineken Connacht Junior Cup and Sunday’s spoils.

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Darragh Leader was successful with this, his second conversion attempt from the sideline.

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