There are two former champions and four Ulster clubs in the line-up for today’s Energia All-Ireland Junior Cup quarter-finals.
ENERGIA ALL-IRELAND JUNIOR CUP:
QUARTER-FINALS: Saturday, November 19
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
KILFEACLE & DISTRICT v ENNISKILLEN, Morrissey Park, 2pm
2020 Junior Cup winners Kilfeacle & District impressed during the opening round, winning 29-21 at Seapoint with Darren Lowry dotting down three times. They are tough to beat, particularly on the Hill and when Luke Heuston is at his sharpshooting best.
Enniskillen are on the road again after taking care of Bective Rangers in clinical fashion. They racked up eight tries in a 52-5 victory at Energia Park, ‘getting the offloading game going on the quick pitch’ according to head coach Stephen Welsh.
Preparing for a different type of challenge in west Tipperary, Enniskillen are hoping to right the wrongs of a 31-27 league defeat to City of Derry. Welsh wants his side to ‘start well and put in a performance’ as they aim for a semi-final berth.
BALLYCLARE v NEWCASTLE WEST, the Cloughan
Former Ulster and Emerging Ireland prop Ricky Lutton comes into the Ballyclare team for their quarter-final clash with Newcastle West. The club’s assistant coach will bolster the front row along with Owen Warren on the tighthead side.
Jack Milton, who played for the Ireland Under-18 Clubs side in 2019, starts at openside flanker in the only other change made by the Antrim outfit. Newcastle West are bidding to reach the semi-final stage for the second year in a row.
The reigning Munster Junior League champions lost 47-9 to Clogher Valley on their most recent trip to Ulster. They are sure to give it their all at the Cloughan, with captain Ger Griffin admitting: “No stone will be left unturned in an attempt to make this year more successful than the previous one.”
COOKE v CLOGHER VALLEY, Shaw’s Bridge
Cup holders Clogher Valley has an easier time of it during the first round, winning 33-8 at home to Creggs while Cooke edged out Bandon 22-18. Full-back Andrew McMurray was hugely influential for the Belfast side, kicking 17 points.
Cooke and Clogher only met last month in Division 1 of the Kukri Ulster Rugby Championship. Tries from centre Kyle Mitchell and prop Ian Moxen were not enough to upset the table toppers who prevailed 22-15 to extend their unbeaten run.
Clogher are currently five points clear at the summit, and last week’s 68-12 victory over Limavady saw player-of-the-match David Maxwell tally up 23 points. The Haire brothers, Ewan and Taine, and hirsute all-action flanker David Stinson will take some stopping.
MONKSTOWN v THOMOND, Park Avenue
The last team standing from Leinster, Monkstown will be captained by trusty scrum half Tristan Brady as they try to take a step closer to prized All-Ireland silverware. Two Fraser Wright tries closed out a 21-point win in Castlebar three weeks ago.
They will field a strong selection for this last-eight tussle, with Jack Gilheany, Kieran Stokes and John Dever all starting. Thomond face another away trip having pipped Westport in the first round, a game in which Conor Radcliffe scored the pick of the tries.
Radcliffe and Dean O’Brien (2) were the Soda Cakes’ try scorers – the latter running in the match winner in injury-time – during last week’s 24-21 Munster Junior League triumph over Crosshaven. It was their second win in five games, putting them twelfth in the table.