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Dublin: 5°C Wednesday 3 March 2021
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Connacht kingpins Garbally power into Schools Cup final with six-try win

Out-half Stephen Mannion scored a hat-trick to help his side past Sligo Grammar School today.

Garbally College 36

Sligo Grammar School 10

GARBALLY COLLEGE, THE reigning Connacht Schools Senior Cup champions and perennial kingpins in the west, easily secured their place in this year’s decider with a devastating performance against Sligo Grammar School this afternoon. 

The Ballinasloe side ran in six tries, taking full advantage of the unseasonably warm and dry conditions as they produced a wonderful display of running rugby, with clever support lines and some excellent offloads a key feature of their performance.

Mark Mitchell scores his side's second try Mark Mitchell drives over for Garbally's second try. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Right from the kickoff, they had Sligo Grammar on the back foot and just five minutes had passed when out-half Shane Mannion touched down in the corner for the first of his three tries, going over in the left corner after James Carry made some hard yards inside the Sligo 22.

Sligo responded well and after they secured good attacking possession, a high tackle infringement allowed Hubert Gilvarry to reduce the gap with a penalty.

That was one of very few forays forward for the Grammar school, however, as they spent most of the half, and most of the game, trying to repel wave after wave of Garbally attacking play.

The home side disrupted the Sligo Grammar set piece, they attacked from a variety of different angles and positions, and while there were a number of handling errors from the Ballinasloe students at key times, in general, they went through the phases very well.

Nearly 20 phases of possession led up to their second try from Mark Mitchell, but a second missed conversion and a huge goal-line stand from Sligo Grammar just before half time gave heart to the underdogs, who had produced a minor upset against Marist College in their previous game to secure this semi-final slot.

There was no real change in momentum after half time, however, and when a crooked lineout feed gave Garbally an attacking scrum 10 metres from the Sligo line, the opportunity was duly seized.

Patrick Grehan drove hard off the back of the scrum and two passes later, Saul O’Carroll touched down under the posts.

Matthew Kelly retrieves the ball from a field following a conversion Matthew Kelly receives the ball from a field following a conversion. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

It was a measure of the strength in depth of the 46-time cup winners that they went deep into their bench and yet didn’t appear to miss a step on the field, making it 24-3 just over 12 minutes into the second half when Mannion converted his own score.

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The out-half even found himself at the bottom of the pile when Garbally drove over from a lineout maul shortly afterwards, and while Matthew Earley got his name on a fully-deserved consolation score for Sligo Grammar, there was still time for Seán Horkan to complete the rout with an excellent close-range finish in the last play of the game.

Garbally scorers:

Tries: Stephen Mannion [3], Mark Mitchell, Saul O’Carroll, Sean Horkan
Conversions: Stephen Mannion [3 from 6].

Sligo scorers:

Try: Matthew Earley
Conversions: Hubert Gilvarry [1 from 1]
Penalty: Hubert Gilvarry [1 from 1].

GARBALLY COLLEGE: 15. Shane Jennings, 14. Shay Hennessy (Sean Horkan 65′), 13. Saul O’Carroll, 12. James Carry, 11. Sean Horkan (Ben Daly 45′), 10. Stephen Mannion, 9. Matthew Devine (Cormac Finn 51′); 1. Seamus Egan, 2. Francis Dolan (Jack Dempsey 41′), 3. Jamie Curley (Jack Ryan 63′), 4. Jack Noone (John Claffey 53′), 5. Padraig Galvin (Joey Carry 69′), 6. Mark Mitchell (Kyle Blackweir 53′), 7. Oisín McCormack, 8. Patrick Grehan.

SLIGO GRAMMAR SCHOOL: 15. Seamus Blackwell (Isaac Ellison 59′), 14. Sam Atumonyogo, 13. Hubert Gilvarry, 12. William Whelan, 11. James Whelan, 10. Andrew Ward, 9. Jacob Fleming; 1. Matthew Harte, 2. Matthew Earley (Mark McGlynn, blood 19′), 3. Edward Coyle, 4. Matthew O’Hara, 5. Taylor Anderson, 6. Fiachra Staunton, 7. Brian West, 8. Kacper Palamarczuk.

Referee: Karol Collins.

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Kevin Egan

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