Three clubs each from Leinster and Ulster, along with two Munster teams, will feature in next month’s Ulster Bank All-Ireland Junior Cup quarter-finals.
Monkstown, Bangor, Instonians, Ashbourne and St. Senan’s win their first round matches on Saturday afternoon, with 2013/14 champions Enniscorthy, Clogher Valley and Clonmel advancing via walkovers.
Bangor, last season’s runners-up, got their campaign off to a satisfying start with a 23-10 victory over Clondalkin at Upritchard Park, in what was the clubs’ first ever meeting.
With a diagonal breeze to their advantage, Clondalkin were unable convert possession into points during a well-contested first half. Bangor winger Mark Widdowson broke the deadlock with a 24th minute penalty after a promising break from out-half and player-coach Jason Morgan.
The hosts went 8-0 up for half-time thanks to a Curtis Stewart try from close range, as they made the most of a five-metre scrum. Widdowson narrowly missed the conversion from close to the touchline.
Clondalkin were punished for a series of missed tackles barely three minutes into the second half. Morgan sliced through to touch down to the right of the posts for a 13-0 scoreline.
It was then Bangor’s turn to cough up a try from some lacklustre defending. Credit to Clondalkin and their big pack as they laid the platform for a fine break up the right wing and a try in the corner from Matty Stapleton.
Six minutes later, the Ulstermen hit back when Jason Guthrie passed for Morgan to charge through the middle and complete his brace by the posts. The latter also converted for 20-5.
Clondalkin broke up a scrappy spell with a second unconverted try, knocking a penalty to touch and moving the ball in-field for a drive that finished with hooker James Kenny crossing the whitewash.
Despite a strong finish from the visitors and a yellow card for Bangor scrum half Guthrie, a penalty from Morgan closed out the win for the current Kukri Qualifying League leaders.
Instonians triumphed 20-5 at Newcastle West on their All-Ireland Junior Cup debut. A big, passionate crowd turned out at Cullinagh as these clubs met for the first time in their history.
The well-supported Limerick side had a strong wind behind them in the first half, but Instonians turned around with a 6-0 buffer courtesy of two Fraser Wright penalties from in front of the posts after 16 and 29 minutes.
Newcastle West were left to rue a number of missed scoring opportunities, with two kickable penalties that went wide during the opening 40 minutes, and their powerful forwards were held up over the try-line on four or five occasions.
With their set piece game growing in influence, Inst started the second period with a well-worked try. Quick ball off the top of a lineout led to number 8 Matt Dawson (pictured below) sniping through midfield to score close to the posts. Wright’s conversion made it 13-0.
Rory Bell was next over the line, a lineout ball doing the initial damage before the young centre’s crash ball run earned him a five-pointer which Wright converted.
Newcastle West enjoyed some better passages of play in the final quarter, and they deservedly got off the mark in the 66th minute when Stephen Kelly went over out wide following some well-executed phases.
St. Senan’s were one of three away winners on the day. Two tries inside the opening 22 minutes from Warren Kelly (pictured below) and Fergal Lawlor set them on their way to a 34-3 success at Monivea.
A 33rd minute penalty try had the Shannon town club leading 20-3 at the interval, and further tries from Aidan McMahon and Malachy Gavin – both converted by Declan Rowe – booked their place in Wednesday’s quarter-final draw.
Meanwhile, Ashbourne comprehensively outscored Westport by five tries to none as they claimed a 29-9 victory in the shadow of Croagh Patrick on Saturday afternoon.
Wind-backed Wesport were trailing 15-9 by half-time, with Ashbourne’s impressive flanker Mark Rooney touching down twice and Sean Kent breaking through for the third on the half hour mark. Number 8 Simon ‘Dippy’ Deevy crashed over in the second half and the Meath men also registered a penalty try.
Monkstown were clinical in both defence and attack as they ran out 41-16 winners over Muskerry in their first Junior Cup game in nine years. Competition newcomers Muskerry had a try from Liam O’Donovan and 11 points from the boot of Eoin Keohane, but the hosts proved too strong at Sydney Parade.
ULSTER BANK ALL-IRELAND JUNIOR CUP FIRST ROUND RESULTS:
Monkstown 41 Muskerry 16, Sydney Parade
Bangor 23 Clondalkin 10, Upritchard Park
Newcastle West 5 Instonians 20, Cullinagh
Westport 9 Ashbourne 29, Carrowholly
Monivea 3 St. Senan’s 34, Castle Grounds
* Enniscorthy, Clogher Valley and Clonmel received walkovers from Dromore, Connemara and Ballinasloe respectively
The All-Ireland Junior Cup quarter-finals have been pencilled in for Saturday, November 21, with the semi-finals on Saturday, December 12 and the final taking place on Saturday, February 6.
The Ulster Bank-sponsored competition has been a springboard to further success for several previous winners and finalists – the likes of Armagh, Tullamore, Rainey Old Boys, City of Derry and Dundalk have all gone on to gain promotion to the Ulster Bank League.
PREVIOUS CHAMPIONS –
2015 – Dundalk
2014 – Enniscorthy
2013 – Tullamore
2012 – Tullamore
2011 – Crosshaven
2010 – City of Derry
2009 – Tullamore
2008 – Navan
2007 – Seapoint
2006 – Rainey Old Boys