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Club News: Connacht Round-Up

Club News: Connacht Round-Up

…Humphreys A Hit At Sligo’s Annual Dinner…Buccaneers Under-20s Back In Action…Ballinrobe Secure Under-18 Plate…Upcoming Fixtures…Sligo’s East On An Upward Curve…

HUMPHREYS A HIT AT SLIGO’S ANNUAL DINNER: Ulster out-half David Humphreys was a big hit at Sligo RFC’s annual dinner last Saturday evening.

Humphreys was the special guest speaker of Sligo club President Tim Gilligan at the dinner in the Sligo Park Hotel.

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The 72-times capped former Irish international captivated everybody present with a superb address, during which he spoke of the joys and trials and tribulations of being a professional rugby player. His speech was laced with anecdotes and wit, and his popularity can be gauged by the long queues of people who waited patiently for photographs and autographs with the Ulster star after the dinner.

Among the capacity attendance were the President of the Connacht Branch, Sean Calleary (Ballina RFC), George Hamlet, the club’s oldest member, and the Mayor of Sligo, Cllr. Tom MacSharry.

Other guests included the Chairman of the Sligo GAA County Board, John Murphy and his wife, Ailish, while John Kent from the Sligo team’s management was also present. The political world was represented by the presence of Oireachtas members, Jimmy Devins TD, John Perry TD, and Senator Geraldine Feeney, while General Election canditates, Imelda Henry and Michael Commiskey were also in attendance.

A special presentation was made to Jason East in recognition of his selection on the Ireland Under-18 Club team. Cathal Sheridan won the Youth Player of the Year Award, Jamie Livingstone, the Senior Player Award, while the Frank Feeney Award for Club Person of the Year went to John Kane. The Hall of Fame Award, which was introduced for the first time this year, was won by Alan McMeekin.

Sligo RFC President Tom Gilligan welcomed the guests and everyone present, thanked all who worked on behalf of the club in whatever capacity, and expressed his deepest gratitude to the club’s main sponsors, Martin Reilly Motors, Kevinsfort Limited, Infacta.com and Anglo Irish Bank, as well as to the club’s other valued sponsors.

BUCCANEERS UNDER-20S BACK IN ACTION: Buccaneers have been drawn away to Connemara in the semi-finals of the Connacht Under-20 Cup, with Galwegians awaiting the winners in the final.

The game was due to go ahead last weekend but Buccs sought a deferral and it is expected to take place this weekend at Monastery Field in Clifden instead.

Buccs, who have retained their Division One status in the U-20 South West Conference, would be expected to progress, with Irish underage internationals Aidan Wynne and Alan Gaughan amongst the players set to return to action for the Pirates’ youngsters.

Meanwhile, a number of Buccaneers players were involved in the Connacht Under-17 squad’s recent trip to England. There were two fixtures against the Leicester Tigers Academy side and a London Wasps selection, with Buccs’ Paddy Doran, David Henshaw, Joseph Kenny and Adam Kenny performing well in both.

Some of Wasps’ Irish contingent, Eoin Reddan, Peter Bracken and Johnny O’Connor – all former Connacht players – stayed on after training to encourage the westerners’ U-17s.

BALLINROBE SECURE U-18 PLATE: An injury-time try from full-back Donal Vaughan sealed a 30-25 win for Ballinrobe over Corinthians in a high quality Connacht Under-18 Plate final last Saturday.

Ballinrobe began this Sportsground encounter at break-neck speed, with out-half Trevor Nally charging over for a converted try within minutes of the first whistle.

Corinthians hit back in the 11th-minute when replacement Aengus O’Connell touched down, but centre Liam Feeley crossed soon after for the Mayo side who moved 14-5 ahead thanks to Nally’s conversion.

Tries, either side of half-time, from centre Enda Cooney and O’Connell kept Corinthians in the hunt, but both conversions were crucially missed.

Ballinrobe regained control through the boot of Nally, who is a member of the Mayo minor football panel. He tallied up 20 points in all, thanks to a try, three conversions and three penalties, with his final kick coming after Vaughan’s late try.

UPCOMING FIXTURES: The Connacht Junior team begin their Interprovincial campaign this Saturday against Ulster at the grounds of Westport RFC.

Connacht will travel to North Kildare to play Leinster the following Saturday, and they conclude their championship run against Munster in Monivea on Saturday, May 12.

Meanwhile, two underage finals will be held this Sunday at the Sportsground in Galway on another action-packed weekend of rugby in the province.

The Connacht Under-13 final, between Sligo and Creggs, gets things underway at 1pm, while the Junior League Division Two decider between Creggs and Dunmore has a 2.30pm kick-off.

SLIGO’S EAST ON AN UPWARD CURVE: In an interview in this week’s edition of the Sligo Weekender, Jason East, the promising prop on the Irish Under-18 Club side that finished as runners-up at the FIRA-AER U-18 Championship in France, spoke about his burgeoning rugby career.

With his thoughts now firmly fixed on taking his Leaving Certificate in June, loosehead East took some time out to talk oval ball and discuss his time on international duty.

“It was a good experience and, for a lot of us, it was a learning curve. Things were fairly intense over the 10 days that we were away – I wouldn’t have experienced that before. The standard of rugby was quite high,” East said of the Dax-based tournament.

Part of the Connacht Youths side that won this season’s Interprovincial title, the Strandhill youngster touched down in the 10-7 semi-final win over England and has a particular fondness for that game.

“The match against England was a pretty big occasion, we all lifted ourselves for it. (For the try) I got the ball about two or three yards from the line and I thought to myself ‘I can score here’ but I got held up. Thankfully the momentum of the guys behind pushed me over and I got the ball down.”

Certainly a player to watch out for, the 18-year-old currently plays for Sligo RFC and is a member of the Connacht Academy.

A student at Sligo Grammar School, East cites coaches Joe Walsh, James Gavin, Oliver Morris and Roy Cooper as people who have given him considerable guidance and tuition in his career so far. The player he most admires is Munster and Ireland star John Hayes.