Come full time on Sunday afternoon in the Sportsground in Galway one thing for sure will happen — the Connacht Junior Cup will be heading north to summer in Mayo. Will it be swinging left in Partry and heading to Westport to sit alongside a glittering array of silverware that the Bulls have picked up this year, most recently the Cawley Cup to go with the Connacht Junior League 1A title. Or will it keep heading north and be welcomed home to Heffernan Park to give some glory to what has been a great season by Ballina.
The Westport Bulls, will be favourites to win the game and rightly so, but Ballina are no mugs making the trip to Galway to fill out this fixture, and it should be a cracking encounter that will provide plenty of entertainment for the Mayo rugby faithful in what will the first all Mayo decider in this famed old competition.
Westport have made their way to the final, blowing away all opposition that dared to try and stop them seeing off Dunmore 15-6 in Carrowholly. The followed that up with two more home games in the quarter and semi-finals, beating NUIG 22-6 in the last eight and then having 30 points to spare over NUIG in a 33-3 win in the final four.
Ballina for their part have had it a bit tougher, beating Cregss 10-3 on the road in the last eight (they got a walkover from fellow Mayo side Ballyhaunis in the previous round ), then having a 34-13 win over Galwegians in an entertaining encounter in the semi-final in Heffernan Park.
In the league Westport were the ones standing tall when the title was handed out, with Westport finishing just behind them in the second place just four points behind them. Westport only lost two games all year in the league and guess who they were against Ballina of course. The north Mayo men won a classic opening day ecnounter winning 24-23 in Carrowholly back in September and when the sides met again in early January, Ballina were once more victorious on a 10-3 scoreline on their own patch.
Both sides have plenty of talent in their ranks, with JP Walsh’s Bulls looking to the likes of Liam Scahill, Dylan Carpenter, Kevin Corcoran and Séan Tobin to put in big shifts to ensure they defend the cup title they won last season.
For Ballina, Richie McMorrow will be a big player as will Alex Corduff, Calum Quinn, Aidan McNulty and Mickey Murphy. The north Mayo side will be looking for these players to deliver if they are going to bring the old trophy back home with them.
The Bulls are favourites and rightly so, having had such a successful season already this year, but Ballina have proved already this year that they are more than capable of putting in a big performance and will fancy their chances off seeing off their fellow Mayo men for the third time this year.
Ballinrobe go for plate glory
The cup final will be proceeded on Sunday, by the meeting of Ballinrobe and Dumore in the Junior Plate final, the south Mayo side saw off Corrib 19-9 in the semi-final to book their place in the plate decider. Ballinrobe have had a good season of rebuilding in the lower reaches of the junior game in the county finishing level on points with their opponents in the Junior 1C division. When they met in the regulation league ties Ballinrobe won 21-9 on the road, before the sides drew 13-13 in the return fixture in November.
In the Junior 1c round robin competition that is currently underway, both sides have two wins each from their two games in the competition, with Dunmore out in front in the table at the moment thanks to picking up two bouns points from their wins over Claremorris and Corrib, while Ballinrobe failed to pick up the bonus points in their games against the same opposition. These sides will be sick of each other by the end of next weekend, where they will meet again next Sunday in the final round of the round robin competition in Dunmore.