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Club Rugby: Provincial Preview

Club Rugby: Provincial Preview

In our weekly preview of grassroots rugby action from knockon.ie we take a look at the club game in all four provinces.


League action dominates the agenda in the west again on Sunday as Corinthians look to secure their league title crown at home to Tuam and the battle for All Ireland league Round Robin qualification continues.

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In Westport on Sunday the home side will be looking for a fourth win in a row when they host Monivea at Carrowholly. The visitors hold a five point advantage over OLBC in the battle for second and a place in the Round Robin Qualifiers.

OLBC are back in action two weeks on from their Junior Cup semi final loss in Westport and will look to get back to winning ways in their home clash with Ballina while the meeting of Connemara and Ballinasloe at the Monastery Field in Clifden is crucial in the relegation battle.

In Division 1b, Ballyhaunis and Buccaneers are battling it out for second place in the table and a spot in the promotion/relegation play off. League title winners Galwegians host Buccaneers at Crowley Park on Sunday, Ballyhaunis are away to Creggs on Saturday.


The Junior and Metro Leagues take centre stage again after the Cup action last weekend with just two rounds remaining in most divisions.

In the the top flight, Wanderers wrapped up the title in early January. Dundalk and Cill Dara are looking safe in the top three, but the other five teams have relegation concerns.

All Division 1a games will take place on Sunday on account of the Six Nations and each one has an impact on the relegation picture. Coolmine host Enniscorthy, bottom side Tullow face Dundalk at Black Gates, Wanderers will get the league trophy presented to them before their clash with Clondalkin and the Kildare derby at Rosetown sees Newbridge host Cill Dara.

In Division 1b, Ashbourne can wrap up the title with a home win over Malahide, while in Division 2a, there is a crucial game at Oak Park as second plays third with County Carlow hosting North Kildare fully aware that a win will guarantee a play off spot and keep them in contention for catching Gorey.

The Division 2b title race is almost done with New Ross looking to wrap up the title at home to BIrr at Southknock on Sunday afternoon while the Division 3 title could also be decided on Sunday if Swords can overcome Midland Warriors in north Dublin. However, a win for the Westmeath side will keep the race very much alive.

The Metro Leagues are building towards the closing stages with eleven league finals taking place over the next month. Most of the leagues still have two rounds to play and the top two are not decided in all of them, not by a long shot.

Stand out ties include the Monday night meeting of Lansdowne 2nds and UCD 2nds in Division 1, the clash of Old Belvedere 3rds and Terenure College 3rds at Anglesea Road in Division 4 on Friday and lots more besides and the Donnybrook derby between Bective Rangers and Old Wesley in that same league also on Friday.


The Munster Junior Cup kicks off this weekend, 52 teams going for glory in a changed format this year with a full open draw introduced and a much later start for the competition as well.

As usual, the favourites are teams from senior clubs in the province. Holders Garryowen 2nds travel to Bruff 2nds, last year’s runners up Cork Constitution 2nds make the short journey to the other side of the Lee to take on Cobh Pirates in a rematch of the 2006 final.

The competition has been won by the 2nd xv of a senior club on six of the last seven occasions, with the one exception coming from Cashel in 2011 and that was a side that had just won the Ulster Bank League Round Robin Qualifier series and would remain unbeaten at Ulster Bank League level for 18 months.

Over the last 20 years, five teams have won the title when they were a junior club. Midleton twice, Nenagh Ormond twice and Clonakility once all of whom have played senior rugby in the interim while long standing junior clubs Kilfeacle & District (winning in 2002) and Cobh Pirates (in 2006) also managed to lift the crown.

Cork Constitution are the all time title leaders with 18 titles and six of those have come since 1994, while Garryowen and UL Bohemian have both won two each since 2007.

A total of 12 teams receive a bye into round two and they will play their fixtures on Sunday. That leaves 40 teams battling out in round one for the remaining 20 second round places.

Because of a back log of league fixtures, the Round 1 games between Muskerry versus Bandon and Waterford City versus Old Christians have been put back to March 16 allowing Muskerry and Old Christians to meet in Division 1.

That leaves 18 first round ties and six second round ties on Sunday including a debut in the competition for Carrigaline as they take on Midleton 2nd xv at Moneygourney.


Cup action dominates the agenda in Ulster this weekend with the quarter finals of the Powerade Towns Cup and the McCrea Cup for city based sides taking place on Saturday.

All eight teams remaining in the Towns Cup will believe they are capable of making a final at the very least which should make for an exciting set of games this weekend.

The Antrim derby in Ballymena sees the club’s second xv take on beaten Junior Cup semi finalists Ballymoney. The visitors bring some strong league form into the fixture.

Ballynahinch 2nd xv captured the Junior Cup crown in December and as a result are favourites in this competition but despite being at home on Saturday they face a stern challenge in the shape of a Bangor side that sit third in Qualifying League 1.

An upset might be on the cards on the east coast as Donaghadee from the top flight take on Qualifying League 2 side Omagh who are second in that competition and have a propensity for upsetting the odds in big cup games.

The final quarter final takes place on the north coast as Coleraine are facing the daunting task of halting the progress of beaten All Ireland Finalists Clogher Valley.

In the McCrea Cup, holders CIYMS will face a difficult test away to Queens University. Instonians should have the edge of Civil Service and Malone will be favourites in their tie with Grosvenor. The tie of the round is the clash of Belfast Harlequins and 2012 winners Cooke.

The final two Gordon West Cup quarter finals take place on Saturday also. Favourites Holywood are already in the semi finals along with Newry who beat Donegal Town 17-13 mid week. Monaghan take on Letterkenny and Larne face P.S.N.I this weekend.