Marist College 6 Sligo Grammar School 18
Watertight defensive work, clear superiority at the breakdown and some excellent controlled ball carrying by their forward unit were the key ingredients for Sligo Grammar School as they powered past Marist College in Wednesday afternoon’s Connacht Schools Senior Cup semi-final in Athlone.
A strong breeze blew down the Marist home field and into the faces of the Grammar School in the first half, but the visiting side still controlled the ball and played the majority of the game in Marist territory, while keeping their back three in deep positions to guard against the threat of the deep clearance.
Max Hunter, Ambrose Bamber, Orlando van der Grijn and team captain Adam Hunter all made strong runs that broke through tackles, but on three separate occasions Sligo Grammar got as far as the Marist goal-line but failed to get any further.
Instead it was Ethan Friel’s penalty against the run of play that was the only score of the half, despite yellow cards for both Fionn McDonnell and Páidí Ó Leochain of the Marist.
The Athlone students held on through both of those sin-bins, but when prop Dylan Bolger was yellow-carded early in the second half, Sligo Grammar finally took advantage, with Adam Hunter touching down in the left corner.
Aaron Platt followed up with another try midway through the second half, with Earl Norris adding the conversion to make it 12-3 and put the game seemingly out of Marist's reach.
When the Athlone side were able to bring their backs into the game, with Thomas O’Brien particularly effective from inside centre, they managed to make their way into the Sligo Grammar half and earn another penalty which Friel converted with just under 10 minutes remaining.
That was to be their last possession inside the opposition half, however, as Sligo Grammar pinned the home side deep in their own half for the remainder, making their win safe through two Norris penalties in the closing minutes.
SCORERS – Marist : E Friel, 2 pens. Sligo GS: A Hunter, A Platt try each; E Morris2 pnes, con.
MARIST: R Dully; F Lennon, L Cassidy, T O'Brien, B Foxe; P Ó Leochain, E Friel; D Bolger, A Burke, C Byrne; L Giles, F McDonnell; P Egan, D Claffey, N Tallon.
Replacements: J Sweeney for Giles (44-48 mins & 55), E McDonnell for Foxe (55).
SLIGO GRAMMAR SCHOOL: A Harte; J Devine, G Murtagh, C Creaven, S Gilvarry; E Norris, Gareth McGinty; A Platt, M Hunter, T Maxwell; P Wright, A Hill; O Ven der Grijn, A Hunter, A Bamber.
Replacements: O Lawley for Wright (half-time), M Ryan for Van der Grijn (55), Paddy Wright for Lawley (65).
Referee: J O'Donnell.