Both Castlebar and Ballinrobe players will have been busy preparing all week getting their bodies ready to do battle again after making their way into the last eight of the Connacht Junior Cup.
The county town men booked their passage to the quarter-final stage of the competition last weekend on the back of a 17-14 win at home against Tuam. That win came on the back of a very strong first half performance, that saw them go in leading 17-0 at the break, thanks to tries from Aaron Moran and Matthew Staunton and seven points from the boot of Barry Walsh. The Castlebar out-half converted both tries and added a penalty in the first 40 minutes.
They did have to dig deep to hold out the north Galway men who cut the gap back to just three points near the end, thanks to two converted tries, but Castlebar held firm to book their place in the next round of the competition. Their reward for that win is a home tie against J1B side Corrib on Sunday afternoon.
The visitors are currently sitting in third place in their division with Castlebar in fourth place in the top flight of junior rugby in the province, Corrib booked their place in the last eight last weekend after a comprehensive 61-7 against Our Lady's Boys Club on the road.
Joining Castlebar in the last eight are fellow Mayo men, Ballinrobe, who despite sitting at the bottom of the table in J1B, saw off a tough challenge from J1C side, Carrick-on-Shannon, at the Green last Sunday by a single point. The win came courtesy of a late penalty from the boot of Steven Conroy, which turned at 14-12 deficit into a 15-14 lead and sent his side into the last eight. Ballinrobe touched down for two tries in the game with both Kevin Staunton and Gary Duffy getting in and Conroy converting one of those tries. On Sunday afternoon they will be on the road to Athlone to take on a Buccaneers side who belied their bottom ranking in the J1A standings to see off fellow top flight side, Sligo, 31-3 last weekend in the last 16 of the cup.
The two other Mayo sides who were in cup action last weekend both tasted defeat, with Ballyhaunis going down 31-14 on the road against Galway side Corinthians, while Westport, despite a brave showing in Carrowholly, were overturned by Creggs, 16-9, with the vital score a second half try for the Galway/Roscommon border club. Tom McHale was the main man on the scoreboard for Westport in that loss, kicking nine points from three penalties.