Antrim, Dublin and Tipperary will be represented in next month’s Energia All-Ireland Men’s Junior Cup quarter-finals, following some high-scoring clashes in the last-eight over the weekend. Click here for the semi-final draw.
ENERGIA ALL-IRELAND MEN’S JUNIOR CUP QUARTER-FINALS:
Saturday, November 18 –
Seapoint 32 Newcastle West 11, Kilbogget Park
Bective Rangers 38 Gorey 28, Energia Park
City of Derry 25 Ballyclare 33, Judges Road
Kilfeacle & District 36 Dromore 24, Morrissey Park
Two former champions remain on course to lift the trophy again, with Seapoint, the 2007 winners, having the biggest winning margin of the quarter-finals in seeing off Newcastle West 32-11 at Kilbogget Park.
Newcastle West narrowly lost to Clogher Valley in the last-four last season, so Seapoint, the current Leinster Junior League Division 1A leaders, knew they faced a tough task.
Newcastle West won the toss and played into the wind in the first half. Aaron Rice cancelled out an early Oisin McKenna try with one of his own, but Seapoint managed to break into a 20-11 lead by half-time.
They responded to two Shane Airey penalties with tries from James Newman and scrum half George Sims, the latter squeezing over from a close-in ruck. Geoff Mahon tagged on a conversion and a penalty to open up a nine-point gap.
Seapoint winger McKenna broke free to run in his second try, and the west Limerick side’s challenge gradually unravelled as they fell foul of referee Ross Whitfield’s whistle, and a sin-binning in each half was followed by a red card.
Seapoint saved the best for last with a free-flowing fifth try, finished off under the posts by winger Newman. Centre Gareth Hughes took the plaudits for a slick midfield offload to Sam Montayne during the build-up.
Kilfeacle & District, who won the cup just under four years ago, got the better of Dromore on a 36-24 scoreline, while Bective Rangers are through to their first All-Ireland Junior Cup semi-final after beating Leinster rivals Gorey 38-28 at home.
A five-try first half salvo set Kilfeacle on their way in what was a repeat of the 2020 final, although Dromore, captained by centre Andrew Rutledge, made them fight all the way for their victory.
Brothers Luke and Gavin Heuston, who combined at half-back, were key contributors for Kilfeacle and scored 16 points between them. The hosts’ other try scorers were Cormac Ryan, Killian Noonan, captain Kevin Kinane and Kevin Doyle.
Led by Mark Bennett from number 8, Bective Rangers claimed a prized semi-final place following a 10-point triumph over Gorey, who were much improved from last month’s 40-5 league defeat.
Alex Darcy’s 50:22 kick immediately put Gorey under pressure, and Bective’s maul powered right up to the line before captain Bennett rumbled over inside the opening two minutes. Conor Murphy converted and then added a long-range penalty in the 13th minute.
A neat exchange of passes with Daniel Byrne sent influential lock Ger Warde in under the posts for Bective’s second converted try, establishing a 17-0 lead early in the second quarter.
Gorey fired back with a purple patch inside the hosts’ 22, a maul effort did not work out but solid carrying from Ewan Stephens and Cian Byrne preceded their opening try. Stephen Duffy’s pass put centre Joe Naughton sidestepping over from close range.
A well-executed forwards drive saw Bective prop David Kealy respond, yet Gorey were still in the hunt at half-time. They were 24-14 behind after a terrific charge from number 8 Stanley Hadden, who shrugged off four defenders to score their second converted score.
Gorey were quickest out of the traps on the resumption, with more good footwork from Naughton drawing them close. George Slattery cleverly drew in the defence off a ruck and passed back inside for flanker Stephens to reduced the arrears to 24-21.
The back-to-back Leinster Junior League champions hit back through hooker Daniel Byrne, who crashed in under the posts following an initial weaving break by Bennett from halfway, and another reliable lineout platform.
Driven on by a well-won scrum penalty, Gorey brought it back to a three-point game by the hour mark. Scrum half Slattery looked to have sniped over, but play continued and Hadden picked and drove his way over to complete his brace. Neil Byrne converted again.
Bective gave themselves a match-winning cushion through their maul. A bulldozing drive from 20 metres out delivered a try for replacement Tom Dever, which Murphy converted to top off his own tally at 13 points.
Gorey threw the kitchen sink at the home side late on, but a combination of handling errors and resilient Bective defence meant the scoreboard remained unchanged and it is Bernard Jackman’s charges whose cup run goes on.
Meanwhile, the hopes of keeping the cup in Ulster this season rest on the shoulders of Ballyclare. The 2022 runners-up won their provincial derby against City of Derry, prevailing 33-25 at Judges Road thanks to a final try from Jack Gamble.
The impressive Alex Darrah touched down either side of half-time for the Ulster Rugby Championship Division 1 leaders, who led 16-11 at the interval.
Derry also scored three tries, the last of them brilliantly run in by out-half Alex McDonnell from a breathless charge downfield that originated with his own kick from deep inside the hosts’ 22.