The first round proper of the Connacht Junior Cup kicks off this weekend and five Mayo junior rugby teams are in action. Ballinrobe were the first Mayo team into the competition last weekend when they travelled to Tuam in the preliminary round, and the south Mayo team came home with a hard fought four point win over the north Galway outfit. Seamus O’Toole’s team were trailing 11-0 early on but they managed to keep their opponents scoreless for the entire second half, and when Anthony Coleman crashed over the line just before the break the game turned in their favour. Oisín Gill cut the gap to just three points from a penalty early in the second half and when Peter Cosgrove touched down for Ballinrobe’s second try and Gill converted Ballinrobe had that winning taste in their mouths, and they held on to book their place in the first round proper this weekend.
Ballinrobe’s reward for their win is the game against fellow division 1b side Creggs. The team from the Galway/Roscommon border sit one place ahead of Ballinrobe in the league table with just one game left to go, and when they met in the league this season Ballinrobe won by six points at home in September while Creggs were four point winners in the return fixture in November.
The other two Mayo sides operating in division 1b will come face to face in Cloondeash on Sunday when Ballyhaunis coming visiting to Castlebar. For Peter Bracken’s side getting promotion out of the division has been their big ticket item this season. They have wrapped up a place in the promotion/relegation play-off so the Junior Cup will be a nice little distraction from the day job. Castlebar have won both of their meetings this year getting over Ballyhaunis with just a single point to spare, while not having much more in hand at home where there were just three points between the sides. Castlebar may well be favourites, but Ballyhaunis have not been that far behind them this year at all when they have met.
Westport will hit the road to Galway on Sunday where they will take on OLBC in a game that looks like a foregone conclusion. The hosts have not managed to pick up a single win all season in division 1a, and are sitting rock bottom of the table while Westport are in third place and looking to hold on to their spot in next year’s All Ireland Junior Cup. When the sides met in Galway in October Westport ran out 12-6 winners, while at their most recent meeting in Carrowholly at the start of January, Westport had 38 points to spare in a 43-5 win.
The final Mayo side in action in the cup this weekend is Ballina who will be confident of picking up a win at home to Galwegians in Heffernan Park. After a good start to the season, Ballina hit an indifferent patch, but they have steadied the ship of late and put together good back to back wins. On Sunday they will host a side that they lost to by four points in a epic encounter in October that saw Galwegians hold out to win 27-23, while their previous meeting in Heffernan Park saw Ballina run out nine point winners on a score of 20-11 at the start of January. All the games are scheduled to kick-off at 2.30pm on Sunday.