Castlebar and Ballina book last eight spots


Last weekend saw two Mayo sides book their place in the quarter-final of the Connacht Junior Cup - with Castlebar and Ballina progressing to the next round of the competition - while Ballinrobe and Westport bowed out.

Castlebar won local bragging rights - by seeing off local rivals Ballinrobe 15-6 in Cloondeash last weekend with Robert Hughes running in two tries for the home side. Hughes got the only score of the first half to send his side in leading 5-0. Ballinrobe closed the gap through a Stephen Conroy penalty early in the second half, but Hughes second try pushed his side into a 10-3 lead. Conroy did bring the difference back to four points with another penalty before, Aodhan O'Donoghue scored Castlebar's third and vital try to seal the win. Castlebar will now go on to face Corrib at home in the last eight.

Ballina booked their spot in the last eight after a 23-20 win at home to Galwegians thanks to a late Craig McCormick penalty in Heffernan Park. Ballina went into an early 8-0 lead thanks to a try from Billy McVann and a penalty from out-half McCormick. However the visitors took control of the contest and pushed themselves into 8-17 lead in the second half, before McVann touched down for his second try to pull the gap back to four points. Galwegians pushed themselves seven clear not long after, but Ballina kept plugging away and Luke Sweeney touched down and McCormick added the extras to level it up at 20-20 - before he had the final say on the contest late on to set up a last eight clash against Tuam on the road.

Westport exited the competition at the hand of Monivea, going down 18-13 on the road despite leading 13-0 at the break - thanks to a Kevin Corcoran try. The second half was a different game with the home side taking control and knocking the Bulls out of the competition.

Back to league action

The attention returns to action in the junior league this weekend for the Mayo clubs. In the top division Castlebar will look to back up their cup win last weekend when they take on Sligo on the road on Sunday. Sligo currently sit in seventh place on the table, one place off the bottom, while Castlebar are sitting two places and eight points in front of their hosts. When the teams met in the reverse fixture in October - the Cloondeash men ran out 24-12 winners.

Westport will look to get back to winning ways when they face Monivea for the second weekend in a row. There is just two points between the two sides in the league standings at the minute, with Monivea holding that advantage. They have also won the two previous meetings between the side this year with a 21-20 victory in the league to go with their 18-13 cup win last weekend.

In J1B Ballinrobe will look to shake off their defeat to Castlebar in the cup (last time out ) when they host NUIG on Sunday; the south Mayo men currently sit third place on the table, one place behind their opponents. But the students hold a massive 14 point advantage on the table - when the teams met in the league earlier this season the third level outfit ran out 14-9 winners at home.

Ballina back in action against City of Derry

Ballina return to action in the All Ireland League after a month out, when they host City of Derry in Heffernan Park on Saturday.

The north Mayo men are currently sitting in top spot on the table in Division 2C of the league, with eight wins from their nine outings so far this season - their most recent league win coming in the reverse fixture in mid December when they ran out 26-7 winners on the road.

The Derry outfit are well down the pecking order on the table at the minute, occupying eighth spot, with just three wins from their nine games to date.

When the teams met in their previous clash - Ballina dominated from start to finish with Chris O'Neill, Kieran Lindsay and Andrew West all touching down tries and a penalty try being awarded in their favour. .

Ballina will follow up this weekend's game with a road trip to Bangor the following weekend as they look to continue their impressive return to All Ireland League action this season after a long absence.


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