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An all Mayo final in this year’s Connacht Junior Cup was the prospect on Sunday morning, but by the time the late afternoon sun started to descend over Clew Bay, only the side from the shores of the bay were left standing in the competition.
There will be at least one Mayo side in the final of the Connacht Junior Cup this season, after Castlebar, Ballina, and Westport all booked their places in the final four of the competition last Sunday.
Last weekend saw Castlebar secure one of their key objectives for the season when they booked their place in the promotion/relegation play-off for a place in the top tier of junior rugby for next season. While Castlebar would like to have gained automatic promotion and clinched the title, second place and chance over 80 minutes later in the spring to seal the deal will still do nicely.
Both of the Mayo sides in the top division of junior rugby in the province went down last weekend, with Westport coming up short by three points at home to Ballinasloe and Ballina shipping a 29 point home defeat at the hands of Monivea.
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.
Ballina Town got their title defence off to a winning start in Attymass on Saturday night thanks to early goal from ace marksman Brendan Lavelle against a tough battling Moy Villa side. The champions made all the running early on in the contest, but were made to sweat at the end as Moy Villa threw everything at them to try and salvage an equaliser at the death.
Next Friday night (December 6) in the Welcome Inn Hotel the Mayo League will honour the best performers of the year at its annual awards night. The league has selected teams of the year across all five divisions of the Mayo League, from the Super League to League Two, and team of the year for the Masters competitions it runs. It will also announce on the night the player of the year in each division.