Both Castlebar and Ballina bowed out of the Cawley Cup last weekend at the quarter-final stage. The county town side lost out in an all Mayo clash against a Westport side who are ramping up their preparations for the Connacht Junior Cup final next weekend, while Westport lost out Monivea in Heffernan Park.
This coming Sunday, those two defeated sides will meet in Ballyhaunis for a place in the top division of the Connacht Junior League.
Castlebar came second in division 1b, just six points off table toppers Buccaneers with 11 wins from their 14 league games. While Ballina ended up in the relegation play-off after finishing second bottom in the top division, their cause was not helped when they were deducted four points by the league for not fielding against Connemara at the tail end of the season. The north Mayo men though really put it up to the Gaeltacht men in the rearranged game on St Patrick’s Day with Connemara just sneaking by them with a point to spare in a game the Galway side needed to win to claim the league title.
Castlebar will be disappointed to have lost out to Westport last weekend, but the big prize for them this season was promotion back to the top level of junior rugby. Coach Peter Bracken has brought on the Cloondeash side a lot this season and if he can mastermind a win over the Ballina and regain their position in the top division next season it will have been a hugely successful year for his side.
However, Ballina will go into the game as favourites on Sunday due to the higher standard of opposition they have faced all season long. Even with their four point deduction the finished just ten points behind fourth placed finishers Westport and five points off guaranteed safety.
The lost out in an exciting encounter to a Monivea side who are preparing for the Connacht Junior Cup final against Westport in a weeks time.
Ballyhaunis book semi-final spot
In another of last weekends Cawley Cup quarter-finals, Ballyhaunis ran in six tried in a 40-5 win over Loughrea last Sunday. Touchdowns from Matthew Macken, Fintan Cawley (2 ) and a hat-trick from Darius Ivoska sealed the win for the east Mayo men. Their prize for that win is a trip to Ballinasloe on Sunday for a place in the final. While in the other semi-final, Westport and Monivea will warm up for their Connacht Junior Cup final next weekend with a meeting in the Cawley Cup in Carrowholly.
Connacht Junior Rugby Fixtures
Cawley Cup (Sunday, March 29 at 2.30pm )
Westport v Monivea
Ballinasloe v Ballyhaunis
Junior League Play-Off (Sunday, March 29 at 2.30pm )
Ballina v Castlebar (in Ballyhaunis )