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Ulster Bank All-Ireland Junior Cup Round-Up

Ulster Bank All-Ireland Junior Cup Round-Up

Defending champions Enniscorthy won at home while Bangor and Coolmine showed their mettle on the road in the opening round of the Ulster Bank All-Ireland Junior Cup on Saturday.

CIYMS launched their Junior Cup bid with a convincing 37-10 win at home to Connacht challengers Ballinasloe.

It was CIYMS’ first time to host a cross-border fixture since their All-Ireland League relegation in 1999, and they took advantage of two Ballinasloe sin-binnings before half-time.

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Winger Darragh Burke and flanker Rob Wakefield both saw yellow in quick succession and CIYMS capitalised with Matt Armstrong and Kiwi out-half Sam Baker both touching down, adding to an earlier try from winger Harry Howard.

That left Ballinasloe 27-3 adrift, and the Belfast club sewed up the result with a Baker penalty and an intercept try from number 8 Armstrong who added the conversion himself. The Galway visitors had the final say with a John Hayes try from a lineout in the corner.

CIYMS captain Gavin Woods told the Belfast Telegraph afterwards: “We lost to eventual champions Enniscorthy last year but we didn’t do ourselves justice. We put that right today.

“Hopefully we’ve got a few more games to come in this competition. We were saying before the game that we earned our place in the All-Ireland Junior Cup with what we did last season so we wanted to put in a positive performance.

“We’re really happy with how we played and no disrespect to Ballinasloe, but it was comfortable in the end.”

Clogher Valley claimed a 16-14 victory over Clondalkin at the Cran, aided by a strong performance from their pack. Roderick Bennett scored the victors’ lone try with Philip Holme (two penalties and a conversion) and Paul Armstrong (penalty) kicking the rest of the points.

Defending champions Enniscorthy cleared the first hurdle in this season’s competition with a 36-27 defeat of Portadown on Saturday afternoon. Winger Ivan Jacob starred with four tries in a man-of-the-match display.

Portadown certainly tested ‘Scorthy’s mettle by fighting back to take a 20-19 interval lead in an action-packed encounter at Ross Road.

Gareth McCoy, Andrew Chambers and Brian Forristal all touched down and Chris Cousins kicked 12 points as the Ulster outfit ran the title holders close.

Bangor struck in the dying seconds to edge out Clonmel 21-15 in a dramatic finish at Ardgaoithe. Three converted tries did the trick, with Curtis Stewart completing his brace in injury-time.

It was a memorable All-Ireland Junior Cup debut for Bangor as they ended Clonmel’s two-year unbeaten home record. Incredibly, it was Clonmel’s first ever fixture against an Ulster club in their long history.

The reigning Munster Junior Cup champions had the wind at their backs in the first half but the conditions led to missed penalties by both sides and it remained scoreless up to half-time.

The wind died down for Clonmel’s Conor Cooney to boot his side in front early on the resumption, and six minutes in a series of pick-and-go efforts led to Alex Sheehan crossing for the game’s first try.

Bangor did not panic at 10-0 down, with player-coach Jason Morgan and Mike Aspley combining to set Mike Weir free for a converted try under the posts. A subsequent yellow card for the Tipperary side invited Bangor forward and from a five-metre scrum, number 8 Stewart crashed over past a couple of defenders.

Mark Widdowson expertly drew the conversion over from a difficult position, however a ruck offence saw number 8 Stewart sin-binned in the 68th minute and Clonmel went 15-14 in front after Neville Melbourne scored in the left corner.

Bangor were down to 13 men when their captain Jamie Clegg saw yellow for pulling down a Clonmel lineout jumper, and the home side were poised for a hard-fought victory.

Showing impressive resolve, Morgan’s men won a scrum deep inside the Clonmel 22 late on. They got the shove on and Stewart, with the support of two other forwards, managed to stretch and twist his way over the try-line for the decisive score. Widdowson’s conversion completed a stunning comeback success for Bangor.

Two teams making their All-Ireland Junior Cup debuts clashed at Monastery Field with Connemara squeezing past St. Mary’s on a 29-27 scoreline.

The Limerick side almost equalised in the last minute, but Sean Lyons’ conversion of a Dave O’Leary try missed the target and their Galway hosts breathed a big sigh of relief.

Connemara brought their impressive early season provincial form into the opening quarter, breaking into an early 13-0 lead thanks to scrum half Eoghan Bourke’s converted try and two Shane Sweeney penalties.

But St. Mary’s responded in kind to take a 15-13 interval advantage courtesy of tries from Danny Hickey and Ger McInerney with Lyons supplying a single conversion and penalty.

Indeed, Mary’s went on to score four tries as Devlin Price and O’Leary crossed in the second half, however Bourke completed his brace for Connemara and his half-back partner Sweeney’s accuracy off the kicking tee was crucial – he finished with 19 points (five penalties and two conversions).

At Mill Road, Dundalk cruised to a 51-8 win over Cobh Pirates with hooker Lotu Nuku scoring the first of their tries after just three minutes’ play.

The unbeaten Leinster League leaders showed little mercy to their weakened Cork visitors as tries from Mike Bentley, Stephen Murphy, Chris Scully, Derek Williams, Tiernan Gonnolly and Ultan Murphy completed the 43-point rout.

Newcastle West began their first ever All-Ireland Junior Cup campaign in brilliant fashion by hammering OLBC 64-12 in Cullinagh.

The Limerick club breezed through to the last-eight, tallying up ten tries in the process with hat-tricks from Stephen and James Kelly (pictured below). John Sheehan, Michael Culhane, Sean Herlihy and Gary O’Donnell also crossed the whitewash, with Herlihy landing seven conversions.

A late unconverted try saw Coolmine reach the quarter-final stage for the second year running with a 25-22 triumph in Monivea.

The draw for the next round will be made this Thursday (October 30) at the IRFU Committee meeting.


CIYMS 37 Ballinasloe 10, Belmont
Clogher Valley 16 Clondalkin 14, the Cran
Clonmel 15 Bangor 21, Ardgaoithe
Connemara 29 St. Mary’s 27, Monastery Field
Dundalk 51 Cobh Pirates 8, Mill Road
Enniscorthy 36 Portadown 27, Ross Road
Monivea 22 Coolmine 25, Castle Grounds
Newcastle West 64 OLBC 12, Cullinagh