Claremorris Colts exited the Connacht Rugby Under-13 Cup on Sunday morning when beaten by a strong Sligo side in the first round of the competition at Hamilton Park. Trailing 14-3 at half time, the South Mayo based Colts staged a strong second half comeback but were at the wrong side of a 26-20 score line on the final whistle.
The Colts approached this game quietly confident, but all the pre-match planning was thrown into disarray, when star forward Stephen McGreal was forced to withdraw minutes before kick-off due to illness. Sligo took advantage of forced re-shuffling of the pack to run in two early tries and lead by a score line of 14-0 after only 5 minutes. Undeterred, Claremorris pressurised Sligo into a series of penalties with Evan Ronane eventually getting the Colts onto the score board with a penalty in the 13th minute. The game ebbed and flowed for the remainder of the first half and with neither team able to register additional scores, Sligo went into the break leading on a score line of 14-3.
History repeated itself on the restart with Sligo going over for a converted try in the first minute of the second half to leave the Colts facing into a daunting score of 21-3. Sligo went further ahead in the 45th minute with another try which forced Colts into bringing on Marc Lusson (Michael Higgins) and Simon Vahey (Colin Breakell) to bolster the attacking options. A furious Colts onslaught led to tries from Evan Ronane (50), Paddy Barry (55) and another from Ronane in the 57th minute but the Colts had left too much to do and came up short on a final score of 26-20.
Man of the Match for Colts was Brian Quinn with fellow forwards Jurgen Pilbrow, Jack Byrne and Shaun Barnacle also worthy of special mention. Paddy Barry and Matthew Macken were best amongst the backs and Evan Ronane was top scorer with a points tally of 15 points.
15-Sean McGuinness 14-Colin Breakell 13-Evan Ronane 12-Paddy Barry 11-Michael Higgins 10-Matthew Macken 9-Nathan McNabb 8-Jack Byrne 7-Shaun Barnacle 6-Brian Quinn 5-Andrei Trench 4-Stephen McGreal (21-Liam Walsh) 3-Phelim Browne 2-Adam Gilmore 1-Jurgen Pilbrow (C)
16-Shane Gibbons-Charles 17-Conor Keaney 18-Padraic O’Connell 19-Marc Lusson 20-Niall Maxwell 22-Simon Vahey