•Corinthians unbeaten 2nd XV take on the 2006 Junior League champions Westport in Carrowholly this Sunday. After an uninspiring victory away to Corrib last weekend, this is a mouth-watering challenge. In last year's corresponding fixture in Cloonacauneen, the game was won in the final play with a superb 50 metre finish by Ciaran Dolan.
Westport have been consistent performers in this competition over the last number of years. They will also take some consolation from their recent defeat to Galwegians with a final quarter comeback, reeling in a 22 point deficit to lose narrowly at the death. They will look to the likes to Eddie and JP Walsh and their try-scoring machine Kevin Corcoran to provide leadership.
•Corinthians u-20s commence the AIL division one campaign on Saturday at home to Buccaneers. Kick-off is at 4.30pm, immediately following the 1st XV match v Rainey Old Boys. Corinthians have a strong squad which combines a strong core group of players developed through the Corinthians Youth Academy, including some of last season’s u-20s, Enda Cooney, Matty Flynn, Eoin Costello, and Peter Walsh, in additition to a number of established Connacht and Irish players, including Aengus O'Connell, James Robinson, Karl Egan, Kevin Russell, and Finn Gormley. Added to this is the addition of a number of key players including Liam Carpenter, Westport; Shane Casey, Castlebar; Dave Clarke, Ballina; and Keith Farry, Sligo who all represented Connacht in the interpro series.
They face a strong Buccanneers outfit that will be well prepared by ex Corinthian and Irish international Noel Mannion and Dave Henshaw, and also have a number of players who have been involved with the successful Connacht squads this season.
•Fixtures: Sunday, Junior League Division 1A: Tuam v OLBC (3pm ); Corrib v Ballina; Westport v Corinthians; Buccaneers v Galwegians; Loughrea v Creggs; Castlebar v Sligo ; Junior League Division 1B: Ballinasloe v Carrick ; UCG v Ballyhaunis; Portumna v Gort; West Offaly Lions v Ballinrobe; Connemara v Westport; Junior League Division 2 North Section: Ballina v Creggs; Corrib v Tuam; Westport v Castlebar; Junior League Division 2 South Section: Buccaneers v Loughrea; Galwegians v OLBC; West Offaly Lions v Corinthians.
•Niall O'Donovan has been appointed as assistant coach of the Ireland A side, working with head coach Michael Bradley. O'Donovan worked with Bradley as part of the coaching team for last summer’s Ireland tour to New Zealand and Australia. Before that O'Donovan was assistant coach to both Munster and Ireland, taking charge of the full Ireland side on their tour to Japan in 2005. At underage level Nigel Carolan has been appointed as assistant coach to the Ireland u-20 side. Carolan will continue to work with the Connacht Academy.
•Connacht u-18 star Shane Conneely was treated to surprise 19th birthday celebration far from a rugby field. The teenager was in Alicante with his family for the start of the Volvo Ocean Race, and father Eamonn, one of the founders of Ireland’s Green Dragon, surprised Conneely at the yacht’s farewell bash at which a host of dignitaries were present.