Tom Sheehan’s effort with just three minutes remaining proved a crucial result as Marist College of Athlone secured their eighth Connacht Schools Junior Cup at the expense of Sligo Grammar School and their first since 2018.
Victories against Garbally College and Coláiste Iognaíd ensured the Midlanders traveled to Galway as hot favorites for the final, but it was clear very early on that their Sligo opponents were prepared to put up stiff defensive resistance.
Most of the game took place in the Grammar School half, with Conor Dowling and Tom Sheehan very much in the foreground as they attempted to pry open the opposing defence, but provided some excellent tackles from Alan Lawlor and Harry Graham for still being goalless at half-time.
Another goal just after the break, topped by a rip tackle and a clearance from Diarmaid O’Connell, further boosted the Sligo side’s confidence and they benefited from a rare attack up front when O’Connell went under after 40 minutes post landed .
The lead was short-lived as Thomas Cotton equaled back for the Marist in the left corner, but the missed conversion meant Sligo Grammar still had a slim lead which they keenly defended.
As the clock ticked down, the contest turned to the final Marist attack, with Conor Naughton and Cotton both stopped short of the Grammar School line, but a good line and fast hands from Seán O’Donoghue opened up a chance in the opposite corner . When Sheehan hit the deck under a pile of dead bodies, there was a moment of pure tension as referee Johnny Quinn assessed the situation before finally raising his arm to confirm the match-winning result.
Marist College: T Cotton, T Sheehan, try each one.
Sligo Grammar School: D O’Connell try to con M Tempany.
Marist College: S O’Donoghue; Begley P, Dowling C, Cotton T, Sheehan T; C Naughton, C O’Carroll; S Walshe, E Naughton, K Blessing; J Heaslip, R Claffey; T Bourke, O Awhinawhi, C Kelly.
Replacement: P Finnan for Begley (54), K Byrne for Heaslip (59)
Sligo Grammar School: A lawyer; H Graham, D Holmes, A Hewson, J Norris; M Tempany, J Draper; K Mojekwu, W Draper, J Winters O’Donnell; G Collins, I Marsden; A God, O O’Connor, D O’Connell.
Replacement: B Hanrahan for Holmes (54).
Referee: J Quinn
https://www.independent.ie/sport/rugby/schools-rugby/marist-college-claim-connacht-junior-cup-with-win-over-sligo-grammar-school-41505238.html Marist College clinches the Connacht Junior Cup with a win over Sligo Grammar School