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AIB Junior Cup: Quarter-Final Round-Up

AIB Junior Cup: Quarter-Final Round-Up

Meath side Navan remain on course for back-to-back AIB Junior Cup titles after scoring a comfortable 36-12 home win over Ballymoney on Saturday. Notably, Tipperary club Cashel, who overcame Armagh at the Palace Grounds, are the only non-Munster team in the Junior Cup’s last-four.

2008/09 AIB JUNIOR CUP QUARTER-FINALS: Saturday, February 14

ARMAGH 8 CASHEL 15, Palace Grounds
CILL DARA 24 RICHMOND 14, Beechpark
NAVAN 36 BALLYMONEY 12, Balreask Old
WESTPORT 8 TULLAMORE 29, Carrowholly

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Connacht and Ulster’s interest in this season’s AIB Junior Cup was ended on Saturday when Mayo outfit Westport and northern duo Armagh and Ballymoney suffered quarter-final defeats.

Cashel qualified for the semi-finals for the first time in their history when they mustered up a thrilling, last-minute try against Armagh.

Centre Colin Morrissey touched down in the dying seconds to dash Armagh’s hopes of a comeback win.

Pat O’Connor added the conversion and with the final whistle blown just moments later, the Tipperary side’s players, coaching staff, officials and supporters erupted in celebration.

Cashel, the reigning Munster Junior League champions, included one Kevin Leamy at blindside flanker. Kevin is a brother of Munster and Ireland flanker Denis Leamy.

It was only Armagh’s second loss at the Palace Grounds since last August and having dominated possession and edged the breakdown battle, Cashel finished as deserved winners.

Johnny Steenson opened the scoring for Armagh with a crisply-struck penalty in the seventh minute.

But Cashel had the better of the second quarter, during which Darren O’Brien crossed for a try in the right corner and O’Connor nailed a penalty.

Trailing by 8-3 at half-time, Armagh started the second half with a series of attacks and their forwards seemed to be getting a better grip on the game.

Cashel were tiring and in the final quarter, Armagh’s lively left winger Eddie Irwin showed good balance to break through for a try in the left corner. The missed conversion left the game tantilisingly poised at 8-8.

Both sides missed drop goal attempts and Cashel held their nerve to engineer a superb late try, running the ball out of their 22 and after a number of neat passes, Morrissey got over.

Defending champions Navan proved too strong for Ballymoney at Balreask Old in their quarter-final. Out-half Ryan Roberts was amongst the try scorers as Brad Harris’ charges got back to winning ways.

Roberts, his half-back partner Kieran Matson and number 8 Bernard Smyth all touched down in the opening half as Navan claimed a 19-0 half-time lead.

Roberts finished the game with a 16-point tally as he converted four of the home side’s five tries. There were second half touchdowns for Smyth and winger Simon Hogan.

At Beechpark, last season’s Leinster League winners Cill Dara gained a 24-14 win over Limerick side Richmond.

Tries in each half from full-back Bernard Behan and out-half Barry Flanagan helped the Kildare men, who led 8-6 at half-time, convert pressure into points.

Behan kicked the rest of his side’s points – four penalty goals and a conversion.

Meanwhile, a late try from prop Ronan Glennon confirmed the progress of last year’s beaten finalists Tullamore into the semi-final stage.

The Offaly side impressed as they handed Westport a 29-8 beating at Carrowholly. A brace of tries from elusive winger Mark Whelan had the visitors leading by 15-3 at half-time.

Tullamore out-half Gearoid O’Grady did a sizeable amount of damage, scoring 14 points (a try, three conversions and a penalty).

The draw for the semi-finals of the AIB Cup and AIB Junior will be made live on 2FM’s ‘Sportsbag’ programme next Sunday, between 10am and 11am.