Junior Cup quarter final places up for grabs

Rugby: Connacht Junior Cup

Four Mayo sides will be looking to book their place in the last eight of the Connacht Junior Cup this weekend, with Castlebar, Westport, Ballinrobe and Ballyhunis all in action in the last 16 of the competition.

The county town men are the form side in the county at the moment, having seen off Westport for the second time in the league this season, last weekend, with a 31-15 win on the road in Carrowholly.

That win pushed them six points clear of their local rivals in the league standings into fourth place in the table, thanks to a brace of tries from Aaron Moran and one five-pointer each from Barry Walsh and Mark Staunton.

The team just in front of them in the league standings at the moment are the side they will face on Sunday afternoon, Tuam. The teams are separated in the league standings by three points, with both sides having won five of their ten league games to date, with the north Galway men holding an advantage in the standings, courtesy of picking up three more bonus points in their league games to date.

Both sides have faced each other twice already in the league, with the spoils being shared as Tuam won their home game 24-12, with Castlebar reversing the result a fortnight later, coming out on top 18-13 at home. A similar result would be a welcome in Cloondeash on Sunday for the home side.

Westport will face a very tough task on Sunday as they try to make it to the last eight of the competition when they welcome Creggs to Carrowholly at 2pm. The visitors currently sit in second place in the league, 16 points in front of Westport, who are currently situated in fifth place in the standings, having won twice as many league games as their hosts so far this season.

When the sides met in the league back in October in Creggs it was the home side who ran out ten point winners on a score of 17-7 and Westport will be heading into this game on the back of their loss to Castlebar last weekend at home. The Bulls led 12-10 at the break, thanks to tries from Ruaidhri Spellman and Aidan Walsh, but they were forced to play the second half with 14 men, after one of their players received a red card just before the break and they ended up being beaten 31-15 by their neighbours.

Creggs go into the game on the back of a 12-10 win over Tuam last weekend and if the Galway/Roscommon border side get going early on it will be a big ask for Westport to reel them in, but the Bulls are a side who won't lie down and they will relish the chance of having a serious crack at going for glory in this competition.

Ballinrobe will be hoping to use their meeting with Carrick-on-Shannon as not only a springboard to the next round of the competition but as one to drive on their push to avoid finishing bottom of the J1B table. The south Mayo side are currently sitting at the foot of the second tier with two wins from eight games, but still have it all to play for in the division with the teams sitting from fifth to seventh place in the table no more than five points in front of them.

On Sunday they will host a Carrick-on-Shannon side who are operating in the division below them in the league and are stuck in the middle of the table in that division, so Ballinrobe will feel this game represents a great opportunity to put the foot down and pick up a win to drive them on to greater things in both cup and league action over the coming weeks.

The only Mayo side to have already tasted action in the Junior Cup this season are J1C side, Ballyhaunis, who saw off Galwegians 13-3 in Doctors Road last weekend. The east Mayo men are sitting in fourth place in a very competitive J1C division, with just two points separating them from league leaders Ballinasloe at the midway point in the league season. On Sunday they will face another side who are plying their trade in the division above them in the standings when they travel to Corinthians, who saw off Ballina's challenge in the competition last weekend, winning 39-22 against the north Mayo men.

Connacht Junior Cup Fixtures

Sunday, January 12 at 2pm

Castlebar v Tuam in Cloondeash

Westport v Creggs in Carrowholly

Ballinobe v Carrick-on-Shannon in The Green

Corinthians v Ballyhaunis in Corinthian Park.


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