Marist hold off Sligo Grammar in exciting finale

 

CONNACHT SENIOR CUP SEMI-FINAL Marist Athlone 28 Sligo Grammar 19:Champions Marist College had to withstand a strong comeback from Sligo Grammar before emerging victorious in an exciting Connacht Schools Senior Cup semi-final in Athlone yesterday.

The holders, bidding for two in a row against the side they defeated in last year’s final, seemed poised for an easy win when they raced into a 22-0 lead after just 17 minutes.

But Sligo Grammar battled back in the second half and got to within seven points in the final quarter. However, the Athlone school finished strongly to book their place in next Wednesday’s final against Garbally College.

Outhalf Barry Goode opened the scoring with a penalty in the opening minute before Robert McMicken broke for the first of his two tries.

Harry Hughes made it 15-0 after just eight minutes with a superb break down the left wing. There seemed to be no way back when McMicken grabbed his second try in the right corner, with Goode’s conversion making it 22-0.

However, Sligo Grammar never lost heart and they were rewarded for building the phases after 24 minutes when scrumhalf Andrew Callaghan sniped in to score, with Michael Green adding the points to reduce the margin further.

Another Goode penalty made it 25-7 at the break but scrumhalf Callaghan gave last year’s runners up some hope when he got his second try with a good left-wing run.

An exciting finish was guaranteed 10 minutes from time when centre Jake Smith went over for a third Marist try, with Green’s conversion making it 25-19.

But the champions sealed their place in the final four minutes from time when Green kept his composure to convert a close-range penalty into the wind and put two scores between them going into the closing stages.

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