Connacht Junior League Division 1a
Westport v OLBC
One can only imagine that training has been fairly intense in Westport since the hugely disappointing display away to Connemara two weeks ago. The bye week will have only added to their senses of frustration. In fact if they don’t start like a steam train here, there is little hope for them in the survival battle.
OLBC however will be expecting such a surge and they are also getting over a defeat to the all Blacks, the 11-6 home loss last week was a huge set back in their bid for a place in the round robin qualifiers and they need to right the ship.
This is a hard call, the visitors have been more consistent throughout the season and have picked up some big results, Westport have had brief revivals in between extremely below par performances and are facing the possibility of relegation from the top flight, almost unthinkable. That might push them over the line.
Caption: Westport in All Ireland Cup action in October. Pic: Voicu Duma.
home by 2.
Castlebar v Ballinasloe,
Every team has their boogie side and for Castlebar, Ballinasloe are that in spades, even last year when the Mayo side were well clear in Division 1b of the Junior leagues, they found their east Galway foes to be the immovable object.
Earlier this season Ballinasloe won the reverse fixture comfortably at Moher Road and that kick started a brilliant run of form that has they eying an All Ireland Cup spot right now rather than a place above the drop zone.
The Mayo side are slipping, they were well beaten at Monivea last week thanks to a third quarter collapse but they have two home games coming up that could transform their season, this and the cup game with OLBC. Maybe now is the time when they end the run, we’ve gone back and forth on this, it is almost too close to call, it is too close to call.
Connemara v Ballina
The revival has been hugely impressive for Connemara, they’ve beaten Corinthians, OLBC and picked up a bonus point in a huge win over Westport in recent weeks. The narrow cup loss to OLBC in between is but a blip as Eddie Walsh pushes his side forward.
The return of second row Kevin Keogh and the form of Richard Bourke and David McDonagh in the centre has helped too and they come into this fixture as favourites with an eye on the top four.
Ballina might drop out if they don’t dig out some results now. A 12-7 home loss to the league leaders last week is no shame but they would have targeted an upset there. They’ll expect a tough battle here.
home by 3
Corinthians v Monivea
Five points separate the the two sides with four games remaining after Sunday’s meeting. Monivea have rebuilt from within this season managing a changing of the guard so to speak.
The back row that started last weekend’s victory over Castlebar included two 19 year olds (Darragh Maher and Cathal Laheen) and a 21 year old (Stephen Joyce).
The power and pace of Corinthians 2nd xv has been a bit much for most teams to handle this season and they are winning with a young panel, three of their starting line up in Sunday’s away win at Ballina were under 19.
They’ve lost only twice (to OLBC away and Connemara at home) and drawn once (Connemara away) and are seemingly on their way to a first Junior league title since 2009.
In their first meeting this year, Corinthians won an explosive contest by a single point, 35-34 in what will be hard to top for game of the season. Monivea won’t have lost any belief in defeat and come into this fixture on a very strong run. This could be close.
Home by 2
Connacht Division 1b
Ballyhaunis v Dunmore
A must win for Ballyhaunis as Buccaneers are making a very serious push for second and the east Mayo side are losing their way. If they can pick up the points from their remaining home games that should be enough but Dunmore arrive with plenty to play for in this derby fixture after a 12-6 loss to Loughrea last weekend, put them in the relegation zone.
home by 1
Buccaneers 2nds v Monivea 2nds
Finally, finally, the Athlone man have sorted themselves out and found some consistent form at this level, this should be a third straight win, they’ve overwhelmed Creggs and Dunmore in recent weeks and bottom side Monivea should suffer a similar fate.
home by 25
Corrib v Galwegians 2nds
The sky blues should wrap up the league title in Headford on Sunday. Corrib are improving and delivered their best result of the season so far at home to Ballyhaunis last week. The cup loss at home to Galwegians is still fresh in the minds so motivation is high but the young guns from Galway have too much fire power.
away by 15
Loughrea v Creggs
The revival from Loughrea has been hugely impressive and they meet a side they know so well this weekend at Ballygasty looking to put daylight between themselves and the drop zone. Creggs are dropping back at a rate of knots and need the points here to get back on track .
home by 3
Connacht Division 1c
Ballinrobe v NUIG
Game of the day in this Division. Ballinrobe’s unbeaten record will be tested to the limited by a NUIG side fresh from a stirring 25-21 home win over leaders Sligo last week.
Confidence is at a season high in both clubs but the students have the momentum from the battling display at Dangan and will push the home team close at The Green on Sunday. A win for the Mayo side will put them in pole position for promotion.
home by 3
Ballin 2nds v Portumna
Good opportunity for another home win for the Ballina development side. A long trip for a Portumna side that lost a tight contest with Galwegians last time out.
home by 6
Sligo 2nds v Carrick on Shannon
Bounce back time for Sligo after a disappointing defeat away to NUIG.
home by 20
Junior 2 League
Castlebar 2nds v Ballinasloe 2nds
Connemara 2nds v Buccaneers 3rds.