The new year has rolled in and with that cup dreams for all the Mayo sides in the Connacht Junior Cup. Having won the competition two years ago and reaching the final of the All Ireland Junior Cup just before Christmas, north Mayo outfit Ballina look to be the best placed Mayo side to have a crack at winning the prestigious prize. But then cup competitions take on a life of their own quite often, however looking at how strong Dave Newman's side have been so far this season they will be worthy favourites to go all the way in this competition.
They currently sit in second place in the Junior 1A league table, but they have two games in hand on leaders Connemara and sit just six points back from the south Galway men with five wins from their five league games to date. On Sunday at 2pm, they will be hosting Monivea who currently sit just one place from the bottom of the league table with one win from seven. When the sides met in the league in early November in Heffernan Park, Ballina ran out comprehensive 42-7 winners and they will be looking for a similar result this time around.
The only other top division Mayo side this season, Westport, aren't in action this weekend as they await the winners of the meeting of Loughrea and Tuam from the preliminary round. The next highest placed Mayo team in action this weekend is Castlebar, who currently sit in third place in the Junior 1B table with five wins from their nine games; they sit just one point behind second placed Tuam with a game in hand. While they would like a cup run, getting promotion back to the top flight is the main thing that Seamus King's side will be looking for this year. On Sunday they will host opposition from the division above them when Buccaneers swing into the county town. The Athlone based outfit sit in fifth place in the Junior 1A standing at present — but have just two league wins from their seven league games and Castlebar will fancy their chances of turning over the side from the level above them.
Ballinrobe will go into their meeting with Portumna as favourites owing to them playing in Junior 1B and their Galway opponents operating in the division below them. But Portumna sit in second place with five wins from seven, just four points of top-of-the-table Loughrea and they have a game in hand and will be relishing the chances of taking the scalp of the south Mayo men, who sit in sixth place in the Junior 1B table with just three wins from their nine games in the league to date.
The final Mayo side in action this weekend is east Mayo outfit Ballyhaunis who will be looking to upset the apple cart when they welcome Corinthians to Doctors Road on Sunday. Ballyhaunis have slipped down the ranks in recent years and are currently operating out of the third tier of the game where they sit in fourth place out of seven with four wins and four losses from their eight games. The opponents from Galway find themselves in similar mid-table position, but in a division above their hosts with five wins and four losses positioning them in fifth place in the Junior 1B table at the moment.