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It is the Tribesmen versus the Treaty men on Saturday and there is much at stake for both rugby league sides when they clash at the Claddagh on Saturday
This weekend sees a break from the action in the Connacht Junior League after eight hectic rounds of action. In the top division, Westport remain as the main men from Mayo, currently sitting in fourth place in the table behind the Galway trio of Connemara, Monivea, and Corinthians, and they will be well buoyed by the last second draw they got against league leaders Connemara in Monastery Field. The Bulls trailed by 14 points at the turn around. Westport did narrow the gap back to three points midway through the second half, but Connemara scored a break-away converted try to push their lead out to 24-10, but with a few minutes left Mike Cronin touched down for Westport, with Séan Tobin converting the try and then kicking a late, late, penalty to grab a draw for Danny O’Toole and JP Walshe’s charges. Next up for the Bulls is sixth place Ballinasloe in Carrowholly on Sunday week. When the team met in round two in September, Ballinasloe emerged two point winners against Westport condemning the Bulls to their second defeat of the season, but they have been on a steady upward trajectory since then, with their only blip a loss to Corinthians a fortnight ago.
After a shaky start that saw them go down to league leaders Connemara and Ballinasloe in the opening two rounds, Westport picked up their fourth win in a row in the division 1A of the Connacht Junior League last weekend, with a 24-17 win over Galwegians in Carrowholly.
The two Mayo sides in the top tier of the Connacht Junior League came face to face last Sunday in Heffernan Park, and it was the visiting side that went away with the spoils. Westport went home 10 point winners over their hosts Ballina and in the process leapfrogged them in the table moving up to fourth place. Having lost their two opening games to Connemara and Ballinasloe, Westport have now won two on the bounce with a nine point win over Monivea a fortnight earlier. This weekend Westport will be on the road again, this time on Saturday night when they are down to play Corinthians in Galway in what should be a tough encounter. The Galway side had won their first three games this season, before they went down by 10 points to Ballinasloe last Sunday. Westport will be hoping that Kevin Corcoran can keep up his scoring form from last week when he ran in two tries against Ballina, and Matt Dempsey has his shooting boots with him.
Corinthians RFC has signalled its intention for the forthcoming season with the bold appointment of South African Phil Pretorius as head coach.
With the summer over it’s time to get back to the cut and thrust of the action on the rugby paddocks across the province as the Connacht Junior League crashes back into action. With four Mayo based clubs and Corrib crossing into south Mayo, there will be plenty of interest around the county as the season progressed. While the defending champions Corinthians and Monivea will be the favourites to pick up the title at the end of the season, that won’t deter the Mayo sides launching a bid for the title, while getting a place inside the top four exclusive junior clubs will be the initial aim for most of the Mayo sides with that place in the All Ireland Junior Cup up for grabs.
The four Mayo clubs in the Connacht Junior League 1A all had a bad weekend last time out with Castlebar, Westport, Ballina, and Ballinrobe all going down in round two of the league. Bottom of the table Ballinrobe shipped a 39 point defeat at the hands of table toppers Sligo to leave them rooted to the floor of the table, with Oísin Gill the only man to get a score for Ballinrobe in a 42-3 loss. It was always going to be tough for Ballinrobe this year to make the step up to the top flight. They did manage to get a bonus point in their first game away to OLBC, but last weekend’s hammering at the hands of Sligo could put a serious dent in their title credentials. They do have a shot at redemption this weekend when they make the short trip to Carrowholly where they face the Bulls of Westport. But it will be another tough ask and a losing bonus point is all that they really could hope for.
Ballina currently lead the way for the Mayo clubs in the Connacht Junior League following three rounds of Division 1A. The north Mayo men picked up their second win of the season last weekend thanks to a bonus point win over Tuam at home. It was just what Ballina were looking for after going down in the previous round to second place Monivea. The Creggs Road side crossed the line with tries from Robert Forbes, Conor Forde, Paul Neary, and David Newman to wrap up a 29-3 win. This weekend the Ballina men will make the short trip to Cloondeash to take on a winless Castlebar side in round four of the competition. Last weekend the county town side went down to a 22-7 defeat at the hands of Corinthians, and despite leading by 7-5 at the break, thanks to a David Staunton try which was converted by Ronan Conway, they weren’t able to hold on to the lead and were steamrolled in the second half, with Corinthians hitting two tries. Castlebar haven’t had a good start to the season and will be looking for a much improved performance on Sunday against Ballina.
The New Year has come and with it the Connacht junior league enters its final furlong as the chase for a top four place and avoiding relegation intensifies. With the competition in hibernation since the middle of December, there will be a warm welcoming return to the fold for the Mayo sides in the competition this weekend in Division 1A with two Mayo derbies topping the billing for Mayo attention.