ULSTER BANK AIL DIV 2C BOYNE 13pts Sligo 15pts

These two sides have now met on a number of occasions in the AIL and Boyne have been on the fortuitous end of the result during some of these encounters. It was Sligo’s turn during this game to have good fortune on their side to come out on top in a highly enjoyable tie.  The men from the North West had a whirlwind start to the game when they went 12pts ahead in as many minutes.
Boyne opened well and had most of the possession during the early exchanges. A break up the middle by back row, Ciaran Smith, saw a turnover which was used to good effect by Sligo. The Boyne defence was caught flatfooted and Sligo went through a several phases which saw their out half Mike Wells finish of the riposte with a try which full back Conor Kearns converted to get them off to a 7pt lead within minutes of the start of the game.
Boyne were jolted by this score but worse was to follow when following the drop out, Brian Howell made a great catch and took play deep into the Sligo half. Boyne failed to keep possession with a pass going to ground and a Sligo boot hacked the ball clear which started a race up the field. Unfortunately for Boyne, the visitors won the sprint when they kept control of the ball for their scrum half to touch down, They failed with the conversion but had 12pts on the score board.
Boyne shook themselves down and did manage to pull 3pts back with a Kerbey penalty when Sligo were penalised for offside. The home side were doing most of the pressing but handling and lineout errors were preventing them from making progress on the score board. The Sligo defence were also steadfast and held the line well before they had another chance with a fine break to be denied by a forward pass.
Boyne had another sortie when Kebey broke up the right and his pass out wide took play almost up to the 22’ before another handling error denied any further threat. Boyne’s scrum was solid and with No 8, Rory Hennessy controlling the ball well at the base, scrum half Nicky Smith was having a fine game. At times Boyne kicked or attempted to chip the defence when the better option might have been to go wide.
Boyne were making some excellent breaks through good ball carrying by forwards Hugh Carolan and Rory Hennessy which did put Sligo under pressure and forced them into conceding penalties. Kerbey was having an indifferent day with the boot and was off target with two efforts which he would normally slot . Sligo also had a player yellow carded when the touch judge spotted an off the ball incident.
When they did execute the ploy of moving the ball wide, full back  Eoghan Duffy, made a great defence splitting run on the 37th minute which set up his backs to penetrate the cover defence for centre, Brian Howell, to cross the white chalk for a Boyne try. Kerbey made an excellent conversion from the touchline to bring the score to 10pts to 12pts. Kerbey had another chance to put his side into the lead before the break with a 30’ penalty virtually in front of the posts but his effort went wide of the posts. Boyne also suffered a yellow card on the resumption when 2nd row Afioae Maiava got tem minutes for a high tackle. The half ended on the score 10pts to 12pts in favour of the visitors.
Boyne opened the 2nd half in determined mood and a great run by back row Smith brought play into the Sligo half but once again the ball was lost in the ensuing ruck and Sligo cleared the danger. In another attack Boyne stretched the Sligo defence from a set scrum and Howell was clear but the pass went to ground and the chance was lost. Sligo had their moments as well and a great run up the left wing saw a forward pass deny them a try if it went to hand. On another break from defence they brought play into the Boyne half and this time they forced a penalty which their full back, Kearns chose to go for goal and  duly landed an excellent kick which was the vital score of the match for his side. With the score now at 10pts to 15pts Boyne decided to kick for touch and work off the lineout. However, they lost some vital ball out of touch which nulified any threat to Sligo. Kerbey did have a successful kick following another scintillating run by Duffy which yielded a penalty to bring Boyne to within 2pts of the opposition.
Despite their best efforts, Boyne had to settle for a bonus losing point in this game. They had chances to take the full points from the game but errors at crucial times in the game proved their undoing. Sligo, on the other hand, were alert to pounce on these errors and their two early tries were match winners at the end.
This league is very tightly balanced with inconsistent results each week meaning that the points margin is tight from top to bottom. With some way to go and a lot of rugby to be played, there is still a great deal of optimism in the Boyne camp. Whilst Saturday’s result is a disappointment, the team is playing good football and with several young players making a big impression like scrum half, Nicky Smith, who was man of the match, Padraic Mongey an excellent prospect, Gerry Onianwa, Rory Hennessy, Adam Brodigan, Sean Woods and Johnny McDonnell joining the more experienced players in the squad, Graeme Eastwood has plenty of potential to work with during the season.
Boyne XV & Repls; Eoghan Duffy; Kevin McCleery, Brian Howell, Ronan O’Brien, Adam Brodigan; Niall Kerbey, Nick Smith; Jerry Onianwa, Padraic Mongey, Hugh Carolan; Afioae Maiva, Ciaran Smith; George Cooney (Capt), Declan Moore, Rory Hennessy. Replacements all used; Pat Shuttleworth, David Callaghan, Sean Woods, Johnny McDonnell.