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Club Rugby: Provincial Preview

Club Rugby: Provincial Preview

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


There are two weeks left in the Connacht Junior League Division 1A season and still a lot to be decided.

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Corinthians have taken the title but second place is still to be decided with Monivea, OLBC and even Ballinasloe still in the hunt for a place in the Ulster Bank League Round Robin Qualifiers.

With such a compact league, Ballinasloe could finish second with two wins or find themselves relegated with two defeats.

This weekend, Noel Mannion’s side are away to Castlebar, who sit in the relegation zone for now – level on points with Connemara but behind on points difference.

Connemara are also in action on Sunday as they host Ballina. No matter how the results pan out this Sunday, the final round of action on March 16 is now set to be dramatic with Westport also still very much involved in the battle to avoid the drop to Division 1B.

Elsewhere on Sunday, in Division 1B either Corrib or Creggs are facing relegation depending on how results pan out.

In Division 1C, Ballinrobe can secure a quick return to the second tier and mark an unbeaten campaign if they can overcome Galwegians thirds at the Green.


There are two divisions of the Leinster League drawing to a conclusion on Sunday. In Division 1A, the battle to avoid relegation and secure All-Ireland Cup positions should make for an exciting afternoon, while the clash of County Carlow and Gorey in Division 2A is the highlight of the day.

The Division 1A relegation battle involves five teams with Tullow (21 points), Cill Dara (23 points) and Clondalkin (24 points) in the most danger.

Enniscorthy and Newbridge (25 points each) are not safe yet either and could easily get dragged into the battle.

The bottom side in the eight-team division is relegated, Cill Dara’s lowly position is down to a points deduction (reduced from 12 to 6 on appeal) from a transfer form irregularity and they face Wanderers at Beechpark on Sunday knowing a win should ensure survival.

The clash of the day could be at Kingswood Park where Clondalkin host Tullow in a winners-take-all clash. The two sides that gained promotion last season face into the final round with the prospect of a quick return to the second tier on the cards.

That leaves a game at Ross Road between All-Ireland champions Enniscorthy and Newbridge with the winners set for a top four finish and All-Ireland Cup qualification and the losers facing a nervous wait for other results.

The meeting of Dundalk and Coolmine is the only game with nothing at stake.

In Division 2A of the Leinster League, promotion has come down to the game between unbeaten Gorey and an ever improving County Carlow at Oak Park in Carlow town.

Two points separate the sides, so it is very much a winners-take-all scenario with the consolation for the defeated side coming in the shape of a promotion play-off with Portarlington who finished seventh in Division 1B.


The top two had games postponed last weekend, so they each still have two games remaining in the league season. Kanturk are five points clear at the top and thus remain firm favourites but St. Mary’s should take this to the last day.

Both contenders are at home on Sunday with Kanturk up against Muskerry, who are safe in mid-table after a good run in recent weeks.

St. Mary’s will take on third-placed Newcastle West at Grove Island, needing to at least match the return of their Cork rivals to stay in the hunt.

At the bottom, the relegation battle could be concluded on Sunday. Mallow need a home win over Old Christians to keep their hopes alive going into their final game, while Waterpark play their last game this weekend away to Tralee and needing a win.

The other sides with relegation concerns are Galbally who travel to Clonmel and Skibbereen who are away to Cobh.

In Division 2, Kinsale can secure promotion to the top tier for next season with a win away to Waterford City. The south east side will prove tough opponents and a large travelling support from the Cork town will help create a great atmosphere.


The Kukri Qualifying League league title race is almost decided in Ulster, but Clogher Valley still have a bit of work to do before they can rest easy.

With three rounds remaining they hold a seven-point advantage over Portadown in the standings and both sides’ have tricky assignments this weekend.

Portadown’s title aspirations have suffered solely because of a lack of bonus points. In terms of wins, they match Valley with 13 from 15 but a haul of 12 bonus points to five has the Tyrone side out in front and set to regain the trophy they won in 2012.

This weekend Clogher Valley host Dromore at the Cran. The visitors have won four out of their last five to move into contention for All-Ireland Cup qualification, but their one defeat was a heavy loss to Portadown and this could be a similar story.

Portadown are away to fifth-ranked Ballymoney in what is likely to be a very difficult assignment for the men in blue. The Antrim side have had a solid season and remain in the hunt for a top four place, level on points with Dromore but having played a game more.

During the week, Bangor picked up a second successive bonus point win to cement their position in third – another win away to already-relegated UUC will confirm their debut appearance in next season’s All-Ireland Cup.

In Qualifying League 2, the title race is still alive after Omagh inflicted a first defeat of the season on Ballyclare last weekend, winning 36-20 and securing the bonus point.

The Antrim side are eight points clear but have played a game more. This weekend they will look to bounce back at home to Limavady, while Omagh host Carrickfergus.

Meanwhile, in Qualifying League 3, Holywood all but confirmed promotion to the second tier with a battling performance away to fellow promotion contenders Larne, winning 10-5.

Having just missed out last season, the County Down outit have been in determined mode this season and are yet to lose.

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