7 Dec, 18:36
Heavy defeat for Dolphin in Ulster Bank League Division 1A as Cork Constitution and Young Munster win but Garryowen are still searching for their first win of the campaign.
Leonard Allen & Cormac Liddy
The biggest crowd to attend a game at the Crosshaven venue witnessed a typical Cup tie with the strong wind that blew up the hill meant that play was going to be confined to just one half of the pitch.
Sligo won the toss and elected to play with the elements but their 5-0 half time lead looked like it would not be enough to see them continue their unbeaten run.
The Westerners who are on the verge of winning the Connacht Junior League and a place in the All Ireland Ulster Bank League next season were bitterly disappointed to have lost this tie especially after a heroic second half performance.
Out Half Mark Butler used the wind advantage astutely and had Crosshaven pinned back in their own Twenty Two for long periods in the opening half.
It was obvious to both sides that this would not be a day for open rugby as passes were going astray in the early stages.
Crosshaven’s pack dug deep and coped with everything the visitors threw at them in the first forty minutes. Merle O’Connell and Darren O’Shea were dominating the opening stages in the line out while Eamonn Ring gave a man of the match performance at the base of the scrum; Rob Barry, Michael Buckley and Jake Grey were also prominent.
Sligo had to wait until nineteen minutes before their first chance of a score and this was a penalty by Mark Butler from the forty metre line that went wide of the target.
Slowly the Sligo pack began to get on top with Jamie Bowes beginning to win his own ball at the line out and following one close to the Crosshaven line, they mauled their way towards the goal line but the home side held out.
Minutes later following another line out close to the line, Sligo made a few drives at the line but than left the ball out blind side to winger Jordan Farrington who got in at the corner for a try and a 5-0 interval lead.
On the change over Crosshaven’s pack laid the foundation for their opening score. It started with a break by center Ross O’Connell and the pack carried it on for out half Liam Delaney to land a drop goal on forty nine minutes.
Many of the big attendance expected the home side to take control but the visitors pack rose to the occasion and limited the home side to one penalty chance which Delaney just put wide on fifty nine minutes.
As the game went on the game was being played between the Sligo Twenty Two and half way line.
It looked like Sligo were set for an all Connacht final meeting with Monivea but in one final movement Crosshaven snatched the game from the jaws of defeat.
One last break by Crosshaven’s skipper Ross O’Connell two minutes from time saw him reach the visitors Twenty Two from the half way line. The pack drove on and set up a drop goal attempt for Delaney who coolly slotted the ball between the posts much to the delight of the large home following.
Scorers Crosshaven: L Delaney 2 drp gels.
Sligo: J Farrington try.
Crosshaven: C McGovern;R Rogers,R O’Connell,A Lane,D O’Keeffe;L Delaney,P Cogan;B Murphy,R Hofler,J Grey;M O’Connell,D O’Shea;M Buckley,R Barry,E Ring.
Replacements:D Murphy for B Murphy 50, S Koya for R Holfer 70.
Sligo:D Gerrity;A Spring,G Foley,M Fifita, J Farrington;M Butler,P Pearson;W Maxwell,R Mannion,A McHale;J Wilson,J Bowes;C Culhane,P Conlon,P Mullan.
Replacements:M Feeney for Maxwell, S Coulter for Mullan both 58.
Referee:E Kenny (IRFU).