Sligo celebrate their success in Galway.
Schools Rugby

Sligo claim Connacht Schools Senior Cup after tense final replay

A late try from Jake Sexton, converted by Matthew Cosgrove, secured a 10th title for Grammar.

Sligo Grammar 10

Garbally College 9

SLIGO GRAMMAR HAVE been crowned 2014 Connacht Schools Senior Cup champions after a hard-fought and tense 10-9 win over Garbally in the replay of the final, just over a week after the sides drew 10-10.

The defeated Ballinasloe school can be proud of their efforts over the course of two wonderfully tactical games, but Grammar proved deserving winners in the replay, with Jake Sexton’s late try, converted by Matthew Cosgrove, clinching the victory.

Garbally out-half Simon Keller, who was again a composed presence, gave his side an early lead at the Sportsground, slotting a 5th minute penalty for 3-0. With the rain beginning to fall in Galway, it was Garbally who enjoyed the better of the opening quarter.

Sean Horan made a dangerous break midway through the first half, but some excellent Sligo scramble defence rescued the situation. Soon after, Ireland U18 Clubs international Cosgrove drew Grammar level at 3-3 with a well-struck penalty from wide on the left.

The wet conditions held both teams back from capitalising on their more enterprising attacking play for the remainder of the first 40 minutes, with unavoidable knock-ons and inaccurate passes featuring before the break.

Immediately after half time, Garbally enjoyed an extended period of territorial dominance, with Conor Kenny – who was named in the Ireland U18 Schools squad yesterday – showing up powerfully in attack.

Matthew Cosgove converts a penalty 27/3/2014 Matthew Cosgrove kicks a penalty for Grammar. Mike Shaughnessy / INPHO Mike Shaughnessy / INPHO / INPHO

However, Sligo’s spirited defence withstood the onslaught and when they went back downfield, Cosgrave had another penalty attempt but shot wide this time. A 55th minute penalty in front of the Sligo posts then allowed Keller to put Garbally 6-3 in front.

Just minutes later, the inspirational out-half was on target with a smart drop goal to allow Garbally into a 9-3 advantage coming into the final 15 minutes. But this Sligo team has shown mental strength all season, and they came up with the goods in their time of need once again.

With tighthead prop Kenny having left the field for Garbally, Sligo kicked a penalty into the corner and proceeded to launch their forwards at the tryline, ending with Sexton touching down.

Incredibly, the 69th minute score came from Grammar’s only foray into the Garbally 22 in the second half, and left Cosgrave with a conversion just to the right of the posts to give the Sligo school the lead for the first time. The centre held his nerve.

Keller saw a late drop goal effort go wide, while the excellent Sligo defence had to step up again in the closing stages, but in the end Grammar had enough to secure their 10th Senior Cup.

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