A place in the last-four on December 15 is the prize on offer in Saturday’s All-Ireland Junior Cup quarter-finals, which include a heavyweight Leinster derby between reigning champions Enniscorthy and Dundalk.
ALL-IRELAND JUNIOR CUP QUARTER-FINALS: Saturday, November 10
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
BALLYCLARE v WICKLOW, the Cloughan
Ulster’s hopes of a first All-Ireland Junior Cup winner from the province since 2010 appear to rest on Ballyclare’s shoulders. Six straight bonus point wins have them top of the Championship table, while out-half Robbie Reid’s 16-point haul helped to guide them past Connemara (21-10) in their cup opener.
Wicklow’s 52-3 first round thrashing of Kilfeacle & District, last season’s runners-up, was a big statement of intent. With player-coach George Naoupu and out-half and captain Niall Earls leading by example, the Leinster side racked up eight tries with two each from Ben Porter and Dean Leonard, in the back-three.
Wicklow will want to bounce back quickly from a rare home defeat – 6-3 to Gorey – last week. An historic semi-final place is up for grabs and Ballyclare are brimming with confidence after putting 45 points on Carrickfergus. Centre Joel McBride scored a hat-trick. Al and Robert Boyd are added to the tight five tomorrow, with Ryan Tweed moving to number 8.
CLONMEL v CIYMS, Ardgaoithe
Clonmel came through one of the tightest first round contests, winning 36-24 at Creggs with Dylan Cadogan scoring 16 points. Eddie Phelan’s late try against Newcastle West last Sunday kept up their unbeaten run at the top of Munster League Division 1.
CIYMS travel south to Tipperary looking for the scalp of another table-topping club, following their 32-13 dismissal of Connacht pacesetters Monivea a fortnight ago. Centre Matthew Kilgore stood out with a 12-point contribution in a fine five-try team performance.
However, injuries and unavailability will reportedly rob CIYMS head coach Gareth Fry of 12 players this weekend. So it looks a very tall order, and with their opponents depleted, Clonmel are expected to make home advantage count and qualify for their first All-Ireland semi-final since 2008.
ENNISCORTHY v DUNDALK, Ross Road, 1.30pm
Leinster rivals Enniscorthy and Dundalk meet in the last-eight, with three All-Ireland Junior Cup titles between them in the last five seasons. ‘Scorthy have developed an enviable consistency in this competition with this being their sixth quarter-final appearance in seven years.
Declan O’Brien and Kieran Hurrell’s table toppers are scoring heavily of late, notching six tries in a 43-8 triumph over Boyne last week to add to their 36 points against Kilkenny and 32 points against Richmond. ‘Scorthy captain Tom Ryan said: “The momentum is building in the squad. The training has been very good over the past few weeks with big numbers. We need to keep this going.”
Dundalk visited Ross Road in the Leinster League in September and lost 31-10. They will be hoping for a much closer contest tomorrow and will need key men Darragh Conroy (their goal-kicking hero against Instonians), captain Enda Murphy, Tiernan Gonnelly and player-coach Mike Walls to deliver big performances.
WATERPARK v ASHBOURNE, Ballinakill
After losing four league games heading into their Junior Cup title defence, Ashbourne got back on track with a 57-point hammering of Westport to reach the quarter-finals. They were also 10-6 winners at home to Bective Rangers last week.
In-form winger Colm Craigie touched down in both games, with number 8 Simon Deevy grabbing a hat-trick against Westport. Waterpark had their own hat-trick hero in the opening round when former Ireland Under-18 Sevens international Alex Molloy scored three of their four tries in a 37-7 defeat of Carrickfergus.
The Waterford outfit, who last competed in the Junior Cup nine years ago, are dangerous opponents for the reigning champions. Especially with their goal-kicker Glenn Kavanagh in excellent form, kicking a terrific 33 points (six conversions and seven penalties) in the last two matches.