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Club Rugby: Provincial Preview

Club Rugby: Provincial Preview

Grassroots rugby website, Knockon.ie, travels around all four provinces for a look at all the rugby action in a club near you this weekend.


The Connacht Junior League takes centre stage again on Sunday after two weekends of cup action in the province with plenty to play for in the top division.

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Last weekend the Galwegians seconds and Westport reached the final of the Heineken Junior Cup on Sunday, March 30 with comprehensive semi-final victories.

Galwegians made their third successive final thanks to a late surge in their semi-final clash with Ballinasloe.

Tries from John Hayse and Cian Loughrey had given the east Galway side the advantage, but two tries from Eoin O’Mahoney and one from Jack Dineen in a blistering closing ten minutes turned the tie on its head and sealed a 26-12 win.

In Carrowholly, Westport booked a spot in the final for the first time since 2006 thanks to a 24-3 victory over OLBC.

The hard work was done with the wind in the first half where winger Danny McGowan and scrum half Paul Jennings scored tries. They added a third through centre Kevin Corcoran after the break.

That win will boost confidence in the Mayo club ahead of a tricky final four rounds of league rugby which starts this Sunday in Heffernan Park, Ballina against their Mayo rivals.

Westport (23 points) are second-from-bottom and in one of the two automatic relegation places, while Ballina (33 points) are chasing second and a place in the Ulster Bank League Round Robin qualifiers.

The clash of second-ranked Monivea (36 points) and Connemara in fifth (28 points) at the Castle Grounds could be the game of the weekend as the Eddie Walsh-coached visitors from Clifden have been in great form in recent rounds.

Ballinasloe (25 points) will look to upset the odds and improve their survival hopes with a win over leaders Corinthians seconds (45 points) at Moher Road, while bottom side Tuam (18 points) and seventh-placed Castlebar (24 points) are involved in a hugely important clash in north Galway.


Cup rugby steals the headlines in Leinster this Sunday as the Provincial Towns Cup and Metropolitan Cup second rounds take place across the province.

The Leinster Provincial Towns Cup (sponsored by Cleaning Contractors) second round draw has provided the neutral with a difficult decision in picking out a game to go to with some cracking ties down for decision in the last 16, all kicking off at 3pm on Sunday.

The draw for the quarter-inals will take place in the clubhouse at Foulkestown, home of Division 1B side Kilkenny RFC after their clash with Clondalkin from Division 1A. The Marble city side knocked out last year’s runners-up Longford in round one.

At Miltown House, Division 1B table toppers Ashbourne take on Division 2A leaders Gorey in a fascinating encounter. Phily Horan’s side will relish the chance of a cup upset, but Ashbourne are yet to lose this season in league or cup.

The tie of the round could be in Wicklow where the home club from Division 1B will look to upset the odds against 2012 beaten finalist Tullow from Division 1A. The Carlow side needed extra-time to oust North Kildare in round one and will have to improve to oust Niall Smullen’s team.

Elsewhere, there are no games that are easy to call, County Carlow will be looking for an upset at home to Newbridge, Dundalk will be tested by a strong Naas seconds outfit, while Division 3 side Midland Warriors will be hoping to make life difficult for Division 1A’s Cill Dara in Moate.

The 98fm Metropolitan Cup is also at the last 16 stage. There are three junior clubs from the Leinster provincial leagues involved, while the other 13 sides are J1 squads from Metro League Divisions 1, 2 and 3.

The stand-out opening round tie is the clash of UCD and St. Mary’s College at Belfield on Sunday. Both sides are in the top three of Metro Division 1 and they would be among the competition favourites.

At Castle Avenue, Metro League leaders Clontarf will be favourites against Leinster League Division 1B side Monkstown while at Lansdowne Road, Leinster Junior League Division 1A champions Wanderers will hope to get the better of Old Wesley and continue their preparation for the Ulster Bank League Round Robin qualifiers.

Other stand-out ties include Coolmine’s clash with the Seapoint seconds at Ashbrook and the meeting of Old Belvedere and NUIM Barnhall J1s could be a very close call also.


There are just three rounds left to play in Division 1 of the Munster Junior League and Kanturk are six points clear of St. Mary’s of Limerick at the top of the table.

Weather permitting, there will be a full programme of action in the top flight this weekend with the battle for a top four place and the fight to avoid the bottom two relegation places in the 14-team league very much part of the drama.

Leaders Kanturk (42 points) have a home tie with relegation threatened Skibbereen ahead of them and could secure the title if they win with a bonus point and St. Mary’s (36 points) lose away to Old Christians. That scenario is unlikely but wins for the top two seems a safe bet.

Newcastle West (34 points) travel to Cobh Pirates (26 points) on Sunday, both sides are hoping to secure a place in the All-Ireland Cup for 2014/15 – the Limerick club are almost there in that regard, while the men from the Great Island need to win their last three.

Denis Leamy’s Clonmel (31 points) hold fourth position for now and face 13th-ranked Waterpark (12 points) who sit in the relegation zone three points from safety.

Keith Matthews’ Tralee (26 points) will hope to keep pace with the south Tipperary side with a win over bottom side Mallow (8 points).

In Division 2, St. Senan’s can secure promotion with two rounds to spare if they overcome Killorglin at Jim Slattery Park on Sunday afternoon.

A bonus point win will absolutely guarantee their immediate return to Division 1 but a simple four-pointer will more than likely be enough for the unbeaten league leaders.

The battle for the second promotion spot is likely to go right down to the final day, but Sunday sees a hugely important fixture in County Tipperary as fourth-ranked Thurles host second-placed Kinsale with just three points separating the sides.

The other side in the hunt are Bandon who are also three points back from the south Cork side and will travel to Waterford city on Sunday fully aware that the men from the south east are capable of upsetting any side on their home soil.

In Division 3, the game of the day is between Dungarvan in third and unbeaten Ballincollig who sit second but are just two points behind leaders Abbeyfeale with a game in hand.

The two promotion places will come from those three sides and Sunday’s game in Waterford could be crucial in the final standings.


There is another full round of action down for decision on Saturday in the Kukri Qualifying League 1, weather permitting.

Only two games made the cut last weekend with leaders Clogher Valley bouncing back from their All-Ireland Cup disappointment in fine style with a bonus point home win over CIYMS and Ballymoney securing a key victory over Donaghadee.

The title race seems almost done and dusted – Valley hold an 11-point advantage over Portadown who have a game in hand, but that still leaves just five fixtures to overturn the deficit.

The battle for All-Ireland Cup qualification however is likely to be exciting right to the final day. Bangor, Dromore, Ballymoney and CIYMS are separated by just five points with two places up for grabs.

This weekend Ballymoney should get the points at home to bottom side University of Ulster, Coleraine (who fill the one relegation spot and are yet to win). Bangor are in Belfast where they will take on Cooke.

Dromore have a tough test away to second-placed Portadown but might be targeting an upset, while Donaghadee host high-flying Clogher Valley.

Meanwhile, in Qualifying League 2, Bob Young’s Ballyclare still have a bit of work to do to secure promotion but remain unbeaten as they head into a home clash with Gary Longwell’s Randalstown.

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