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The Club Game: Around The Provinces

The Club Game: Around The Provinces

Ashbourne, Temple Hill, Dubarry Park and Aviva Stadium will all see international action this weekend, but there is a huge amount of rugby being played all over Ireland as well. Our grassroots rugby preview comes from Knockon.ie.


The semi-finals of this season’s Heineken Connacht Junior Cup take place on Sunday as the province’s flagship junior competition takes centre stage for the second week running.

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Galwegians are now favourites to win back the title they won in 2012 after last Sunday’s 28-3 quarter-final victory away to holders Monivea.

They will face Ballinasloe in the semi-finals at Moher Road on Sunday at 2pm. The Sky Blues were in unforgiving form at the Castle Grounds and have a wealth of emerging talent in their ranks.

Noel Mannion’s Ballinasloe should not be completely discounted in this one even if they are heavy underdogs. The east Galway side have had a brilliant first season in Division 1A and are pushing for a top four finish and a first ever spot in the All-Ireland Junior Cup.

In the second semi-final, Westport will take on Our Lady’s Boy’s Club at Carrowholly on Sunday at 2pm. The Bulls caused a huge upset at the same venue last week when they toppled Junior League leaders Corinthians, 21-10, in a brilliant display.

The visitors from Galway city should not be discounted. OLBC won in Mayo last week, coming from 17-3 down in Castlebar to win 23-17 with a fine second half display inspired by tries from Dave Dooley and Cian Hynes. The final is set for Sunday, March 30 at the Sportsground.


There is almost a full programme of Metro League action over the weekend with a handful of games in the city on Friday night and early on Saturday morning (11am kick-offs), but most games taking place on Sunday.

The Metro League Division 1 title race is a dramatic one fought being out between the J1 development squads of Clontarf (39 points), St Mary’s College (38) and UCD (35).

Each side has three games remaining and there should be some high octane rugby this weekend with St. Mary’s at home to Old Belvedere, Clontarf away to Dublin University and UCD entertaining Terenure College, all kicking off at 3pm on Sunday.

The Provincial Junior leagues are on a break with the exception of a couple of re-fixtures including Portlaoise and County Carlow’s clash on Sunday afternoon in Division 2A. The always fiercely competitive Provincial Towns Seconds Cup also begins with four first round matches taking place in New Ross, Roscrea, Wicklow and Enniscorthy.


It is a catch up weekend in Munster on Sunday as a few outstanding fixtures in league and cup competitions are down for decision.

In Division 1 of the Munster Junior League, St. Mary’s need to beat Tralee at home to keep their slim title hopes alive, while the clash of Muskerry and Old Christians is important for matters at the other end of the table.

Meanwhile, in the Munster Junior Clubs Challenge Cup – which is a competition solely for teams in Division 1 of the Junior League – there are three first round games taking place as the six sides battle for a place in the quarter-finals.

The stand-out fixture is the clash of Newcastle West and Clonakility in west Limerick. The home side have the better league form coming into this, but the former All-Ireland League side have been improving throughout the campaign and are a good outside bet in the competition.

The two other games see Clonmel host county rivals Kilfeacle & District and an all-Cork match-up where Cobh Pirates will be favourites in their home tie with Cashel.

There are three games in the Junior Clubs Challenge Shield competition for sides in Division 2 with the meeting of promotion contenders St. Senan’s and Thurles the pick of the ties.


It might be an international weekend but the busy calendar means there is still a full programme of Junior rugby action across the province.

The Kukri Qualifying League is heading towards a conclusion and Clogher Valley will hope to bounce back from All-Ireland Junior Cup heartbreak last weekend by defeating CIYMS at the Cran on Saturday.

The Tyrone club hold a six-point advantage at the top of the table over Portadown who will need to win away to Coleraine on Saturday to keep their slim title hopes alive.

The battle for All-Ireland Cup Junior qualification will be on the minds of Bangor and Dromore when they clash on the east coast. Ballymoney and Donaghadee should also be a close contest.

In Qualifying League 2, there are four games taking place. Grosvenor will look to cause a major upset when they take on unbeaten league leaders and promotion certainties Ballyclare.

Check out www.knockon.ie for all your grassroots rugby news.