Outclassed Sligo hand it on a plate to impressive Tuam

Tuam 45

 Sligo 14

By Kevin Egan  at Dexcom Stadium 

THE gap between third place in the top tier of Connacht Junior Rugby and third place in the second tier was plain to see on Sunday in Galway  when Tuam overpowered and demolished a Sligo RFC side that never looked like making a meaningful tilt at upsetting their opponents and making a serious bid for the Connacht Junior Plate.

From the moment that Castlebar edged out Tuam in the first round of the Junior Cup competition, the plate looked like a two-horse race between the North Galway side and Westport; the 2023 Cup winners who surrendered their crown in their first ‘title defence’ against Dunmore.

Tuam’s 19-15 win over Westport a little over a fortnight ago ensured that they were the side who went into this final with a metric tonne weight of expectation upon their shoulders, but with Sligo’s first team blazing a trail in both the AIL and the Connacht Senior Cup, supporters of the club’s second team travelled down the N17, hoping that the rising tide in the club might lift all boats, or particularly the vessel that was the club seconds.

Instead, it didn’t take long for Sligo’s hull to be holed by one Tuam torpedo after another. Enda Gavin’s side launched the first attack of the game all right, but when a huge tackle from Eoin Fowley rocked former Connacht Schools Cup winner Hubert Gilvarry backwards, momentum shifted decisively in Tuam’s favour, and it could be argued that it never really shifted back.

The key building block for Tuam’s dominance was simple. Their power in tight exchanges forced Sligo to play on the edge in terms of their behaviour in the tackle and in the ruck, and referee Keith Haverty quickly started to penalise the underdogs, awarding six penalties to Tuam in the opening 15 minutes.

Pictured:Tuam’s Owen Halion scoring a try with David Noone in support against Sligo during Sunday’s Connacht Junior Plate Final at Dexcom Stadium. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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