It’s must win time for all three of the Mayo clubs in the Connacht Junior League this weekend. After the last few rounds have seen them all stumble out of contention for the title and left them scrapping around to stay in the race for All Ireland Junior Cup place for next season. And unless there is a draw one of the three Mayo sides’ losing run will continue into the next round of fixtures. This weekends round of games features a crunch all Mayo derby in north Mayo where Ballina will host Westport.
Ballina have lost their last four games on the bounce, while the chips are refusing to fall right for the Bulls who have gone down in their last three games by tight margins and another defeat will be hard for them to stomach as the season enters the midway stretch.
The fact that Westport have still been racking up decent scores while still losing bodes well for the Bulls as they have been within touching distance of all the sides they have fallen to recently. While Ballina haven’t been helped by injuries to key players early on the season their heavy losses to Corrib recently will be playing on their mind.
Creggs Road is a tough venue for any side to come to and the spice of a local derby will be sure to add to the intensity of the action on the field on Sunday. Even though it’s bound to be a close encounter, Westport look to have the edge and their look will have to change some time and see them crawl over the line in a tight game to give their season the kickstart it needs.
Castlebar who are also coming out of a two game losing run need to find that early season sparkle again if they are going to have anything to keep them motivated over the winter. There early season win over Monivea has been overshadowed recently by defeats at the hands of OLBC and Sligo and seen Rory Casey’s side slip below Westport in the league tables at the minute. This weekend Castlebar have the perfect opportunity to get back on the wagon as a winless Loughrea will make the trip to Cloondeash on Sunday, where Castlebar will be looking to pick up the win and maybe a bonus point. Which will give them a much needed boost as the winter conditions really kick in and it becomes a slog of attrition on the fields around the province.
Tight in the second tier
Things are tight in the Division 1B of the Junior League also, with Ballyhaunis the leading Mayo side at the minute. The east Mayo me are currently in fifth place in the table on nine points, thanks to two wins and one loss in their campaign so far. They have ran in seven tries and conceded six in their three games and will be looking to shore that defence up come this weekend when they have Ballinasloe at home.
Ballinrobe would have been targeting a return to the top level of junior rugby this season and they got off to a good start winning their first game out against Dunmore. In their second game and final game up to this stage, they did ship a heavy defeat to the West Offaly Lions away from home. This weekend they will be looking to see off a tough Portumna side at home who have won two of their three games so far this season.