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Ulster Bank Junior Cup: First Round Review

Ulster Bank Junior Cup: First Round Review

The road to All-Ireland Junior Cup glory began for the leading junior clubs from the four provinces on Saturday. There were a number of impressive first round winners, with Enniscorthy launching their title defence in stunning fashion.


Clonmel 5 De La Salle Palmerston 45, Ardgaoithe
Enniscorthy 74 NUI Galway 0, Ross Road
Gorey 13 Galbally 16, Clonattin Road
Instonians 26 Bandon 30, Shaw’s Bridge
Monivea 6 Clogher Valley 27, Castle Grounds
Portadown 22 Ballina 11, Chambers Park
Richmond 16 Ballyclare 29, Canal Bank
Westport 10 Ashbourne 28, Carrowholly

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Draw Made For Ulster Bank Junior Cup Quarter-Finals

De La Salle Palmerston stunned Munster Junior League kingpins Clonmel into submission, running out 45-5 winners of their one-sided clash at Ardgaoithe. Full-back Avon Lewis and lock Keith Taite both bagged a brace of tries for ‘Salmo whose reward is a home quarter-final fixture with Limerick’s Galbally, the 16-13 conquerors of fellow cup newcomers Gorey.

In a cracking contest that ebbed and flowed throughout, Gorey’s failure to convert pressure into points came back to haunt them in the end as the visitors finished the stronger at Clonattin Road.

After an initial penalty by Jack O’Mullane for Galbally, Gorey’s Andrew Walsh was stopped just short of the try-line before David Shannon levelled from the kicking tee. Galbally were ruthlessly punished for a knock-on when the Wexford men moved the ball at pace across their back-line and winger Nevil Copeland ran in a fine try, converted by Shannon.

O’Mullane’s second successful penalty on the stroke of half-time closed the gap to 10-6, and Gorey, despite dominating territory in the third quarter, were unable to shake the determined Galbally side off their tails.

The home side blew a couple of overlaps and Galbally then pounced with 15 minutes remaining, their in-form centre Michael Donovan slipping past a number of Gorey defenders for a well-taken try out of nothing. O’Mullane’s conversion made it 13-10.

A combination of poor execution from Gorey and brilliant Galbally defending frustrated the hosts, who did at least manage to level matters thanks to a James Nolan penalty. However, a penalty in the final minutes from O’Mullane – completing his 11-point haul – sealed Galbally’s historic passage through to the last-eight.

2014 and 2016 champions Enniscorthy were a class apart in their 74-0 demolition job of NUI Galway, and they will have home advantage in the quarter-finals against Mike McKeever’s Ballyclare.

A superior second half display saw Ballyclare pull clear of Richmond for a 29-16 win in Limerick. The early exchanges showed the difference in size between the sides, with Richmond having a clear weight and height advantage across the board.

An offside allowed Brian Mullins to boot the hosts in front after five minutes, but Ballyclare were first over the try-line, quick recycling and then well-timed passes from Willie Logan and James Greer releasing number 8 Jordan McKinstry to go over in the right corner.

Mullins landed one of two penalty efforts for a 6-5 scoreline, Richmond keeping things tight as they kicked for territory and used their big scrum to put pressure on the Ulstermen. After Mullins dropped a difficult penalty short, Ballyclare used a Ryan Tweed lineout steal to flood through for their second try. Centres Stewart Cusick and Dave Clarke combined to telling effect with the latter touching down for out-half Robbie Reid to convert.

While Ballyclare certainly looked the more potent of the teams and Reid added to their tally with a penalty, Richmond finished the first half in good stead, reducing the arrears to just two points (15-13) courtesy of a try from lively winger Keelan Stephenson who took advantage of a couple of missed tackles.

But the Ballyclare backs proved too hot to handle again when they opened the scoring in the second period, Clarke powering downfield and linking with full-back Jonny Holmes whose inside pass put winger Greer over by the posts for a seven-pointer.

That score gave McKeever’s men some breathing space and although Mullins’ third penalty success kept Richmond in contention at 22-16 down, their best try-scoring opportunity was foiled by a knock-on. Ballyclare duly sealed the result late on, Michael Kirk cutting in from the left wing for the clinching fourth try.

Bandon were another club to win on their travels on Saturday afternoon, ending the hopes of last season’s beaten finalists Instonians with an excellent 30-26 victory at Shaw’s Bridge. 

Injury-hit Inst’s late rally was not enough as they were left to rue an error-strewn first half performance. They did take the lead initially, Mark Mairs’ interception setting up his back row colleague Lewis McNamara for a second minute try.

However, Bandon went on to dominate the opening 40 minutes with their strong scrum coming to the fore, winning them a penalty try. They also finished a number of chances out wide through Ryan Hayes, Alex Morrissey and Tim Cummins.

Trailing 22-12 at half-time and with second row Franco Maggiolo in the sin-bin, the Belfast club got the lift they needed with an outstanding individual try from replacement full-back Mark Keane, six minutes into the second half. He ran a kick back with interest, darting up the touchline and rounding the would-be tacklers to gallop clear for a rousing seven-pointer.

Bandon responded seven minutes later, their impressive pack doing the donkey work, retaining possession through multiple phases and sucking in the home defence before the ball was moved wide for Philip Murphy to touch down.

Despite some lineout issues, the Corkmen thwarted Instonians at the breakdown and robbed them of some hard-earned field position. Their scrum came up trumps again in the 67th minute, winning a penalty which Olan Crowley sent over for 30-19.

There was still time for a fourth Instonians try, McNamara again heavily involved as they pressed from a close-in lineout. It was big replacement Erin Wagner who crashed over for the score. Richard McCarthy converted to set up a grandstand finish, but there were no further scores over the concluding five minutes.

Meanwhile, number 8 Ryan Wilson was the star of the show in Clogher Valley’s convincing 27-6 triumph at Monivea. He crossed for all four tries, although the Galway men had a decent early spell when they should have scored.

The hosts trailed 17-3 at interval, Valley hitting the front in the 16th minute after a Monivea maul was turned over and Wilson managed to drive over the line. He benefited from strong mauling by the visitors’ pack for try number two.

The Ulstermen continued to dominate the forward exchanges and Wilson completed his hat-trick on the hour mark, picking up from the base of an advancing scrum and powering over. Closing out the scoring, both backs and forwards combined to set up Wilson again with 10 minutes remaining.

Valley will visit Ulster rivals Portadown at the quarter-final stage, the Ports making it through courtesy of a 22-11 defeat of under-strength Connacht League Division 1A leaders Ballina. Their three tries were scored by centre Jonny Holden, winger Aaron Morton and number 8 Gary Hall.

Ashbourne were the third Leinster club to reach the last-eight after emerging as comfortable 28-10 winners at Westport. There was a sense of déjà vu as the Meath men won away to the same opposition in last season’s opening round.

There was only one try in the first half and it came after just two minutes. Pressure from Des Spooner forced a fumble from Westport, he hacked through, Jake Wall gathered possession and after a couple of rucks and quick recycles, Spooner put winger Matt Connolly through to score by the posts.

The visitors repeated the trick in the second period, scoring within five minutes. Number 8 Simon Deevy was heavily involved as he brought Ashbourne up to the 22, Adam Martin was stopped short of the line but scrum half Wall scrambled over from the ruck, with captain Gavin Kennedy converting again for 14-0.

Spooner was lurking out on the left to score the third try, 10 minutes later, finishing off good work by Connolly, Kennedy and Wall. 28 points was the difference after Deevy deservedly got his name on the scoresheet, using his strength to wrestle his way over the line after a Westport lineout was disrupted and replacements James McCaghy and Keith Kennedy had combined to deflect a clearance kick into Deevy’s path.
Westport did gain some consolation with two unconverted tries in the closing stages. Ashbourne will welcome Bandon to Milltown House on the quarter-finals weekend (November 12) in what should be a very entertaining encounter.