Connacht v Ulster Preview

junior interprovincial connacht v leinster

Junior Inter Provincial Series – Round 1

Connacht v Ulster, Westport RFC, Saturday 2:30.

The squad of 26 men in green will look to tackle the powerful Ulster side gunning for victory in this years competition. The northerners have fallen agonisingly short of securing the title for two years on the bounce now.

At the helm for Connacht are two Mayo men with JP Walsh and Mickey Murphy calling the shots this year. Ballina man Murphy will also play while Westport’s Walsh is a former player with the squad and had had a great year at the helm of his home club.

The glorious breakthrough in 2011 and 2012 that saw Connacht secure back to back grand slam titles seems like a distant memory right now after Connacht’s struggles at this level in the last two years but despite the fact that the province’s clubs have struggled to compete in national cup competitions this year, there is a lot of hope surrounding this squad.

Munster v Leinster Preview

leinster jr v munster jr

Junior Inter Provincial Series – Round 1

Munster v Leinster, in Cobh at 2:30 Saturday

The 2013 champions host the 2014 champions in Cobh on Saturday in what promises to be a pulsating and unpredictable tussle.

Each year, this fixture comes up first and in some ways it is a shame that there isn’t a rotation of the order as both sides are often missing some key players from clubs involved in Round Robin Qualifiers (Dundalk this year) or Cups competitions (Clonmel, Enniscorthy and Kilkenny this year).

Yet the sheer spread of talent in the two provinces at Junior level means that there are always some supremely talented players to step in from a wide range of clubs. Dungarvan, Thurles and Castleisland are among the clubs from outside the top flight represented on Munster.

DLSP v Dundalk Preview

Dundalk

Ulster Bank League Round Robin Play Offs

DLSP v Dundalk, Kirwan Park

Brace yourselves folks, this one is likely to carry with it a roller-coaster of emotions on Saturday afternoon and some tense rugby to boot.

It is hard not to feel a little sympathy towards De La Salle Palmerston and their current predicament.

This isn’t the story of a club that has been holding back the inevitable for far too long, nor is it a case of a side that took risks to reach the highest level only to fall short. Quite simply, this is one bad three or four year cycle, probably their first in AIL history and it has come at the worst possible time.

Consider this, from 1995 up until 2012, DLSP finished in a range of league positions between 11th and 28th overall in Ulster Bank AIL rugby. Then, four seasons ago, they slid back a little to 31 and within a year to 38, by last season they were in the bottom Division and finishing 48th, just five places off the bottom.

PODCAST: Enniscorthy RFC Special

Dundalk v Enniscorthy Towns Cup

The second of our Towns Cup Final Special podcasts features Enniscorthy RFC as the club prepares for Sunday’s big final at Cill Dara RFC where they will take on Kilkenny.

The slaneysiders have had very strong season finishing second in the Leinster league and beating Dundalk in the semi finals of this competition.

On Saturday evening last, their second xv captured the Towns Seconds Cup in Carlow by beating Tullow in dramatic fashion.

After the game host Rob Murphy and regular pundit Dave Mahon met with members of the club, squad and management team to discuss all things Enniscorthy rugby.

In part one, we hear from club president Jim MacAuley, committee member Charlie Kavanagh and senior squad management team member Liam Walsh.

In part two, player coach Decalan O’Brien joins the pod along with his assistant coach Damien McCabe and players James Doyle and Killian Lett.

PODCAST: Kilkenny RFC Special

Kilkenny Champions

KnockOn.ie went on the road this week to catch up with some of the people behind the teams involved in the 90th Provincial Towns Cup Final in Leinster.

On Saturday we visited the Left Bank bar in Kilkenny city to meet with members of Kilkenny RFC who are back in the final for a second successive season.

Players, management and volunteers in the background all joined host Rob Murphy and podcast regular Dave Mahon to talk about their club, the season that has just gone and what this Towns Cup final appearance means to them.

We hear from Head Coach Steve Ashmore, club Captain Dave O’Connor, first team player Ray Pembrooke, team manager Packie Hennerby, PRO Padraig Tracey and club President Gary Brickell.

Caption: The Kilkenny team pictured after their win over Longford in February that secured the Division 1b league title. Pic: Sokilkenny.ie

Ballinasloe Win Cawley Cup

Ballinasloe

Cawley Cup Final

Ballinasloe 10
Westport 7

Rob Murphy at Guaran Park

Balllinasloe Scorers: John Hayes 1 try; Ross Keller 1 con and 1 pen. 
Westport Scorers: Kevin Corcoran 1 try; Sean Tobin 1 con.

Eleven years on from taking the unprecedented decision to step away from a previous club merge with Athlone under the Buccaneers banner, the men from Ballinasloe were finally celebrating lifting some silverware on Friday evening in Tuam after a second half turnaround against Westport.

The Junior Cup champions came into this final, played in perfect conditions the tremendous facilities at the north Galway club, seemingly better placed for the win. They might have lost twice in the league to their Galway opponents and they had finished a place below them in the league but based on their triumph over Monivea, they were favoured as the ball was kicked off.

Cawley Cup Preview

Credit Conor McKeown

Cawley Cup Final Preview

Westport v Ballinasloe, Guaran Park, Tuam RFC 7:30

The final of the Cawley Cup rarely disappoints when it comes to entertainment and drama even if the rounds leading up to that decider often leave plenty to be desired. Connacht’s Junior Club’s Cup rarely grabs the headlines until finals day.

The first final was way back in 2003 on St Patrick’s Day and garnered plenty of interest but over the years since the cup has been tagged on at the end of the calendar by competition organisers at the behest of the clubs.

That time frame meant that from year three, the Junior league winners were not included in the cup because of the AIL round robin and this merely added to the feeling that the competition had been undermined long before it started but the clubs of Connacht seem uninterested in addressing the issue.

PODCAST: AIL Restructuring Debacle

Ball

We are not happy here at KnockOn.ie. The new All Ireland League divisional structures have left us utterly perplexed and demoralised.

After a year long review of the club game and meetings with all 52 AIL clubs on the island, the IRFU’s solution has left a lot to be desired.

A reduction of two teams from 52-50 will be implemented at the end of this season, that will allow for the introduction of a fifth division and a major increase in the total number of games by 30 from 420 to 450. That will translate into four extra games a season for teams outside of the top two divisions.

Dundalk One Step Closer

Pic: Taken by Ciaran Culligan.

AIL Round Robin Qualifiers

Dundalk 24
Clonmel 8

Dundalk Scorers: Lotu Nuku, Thomas Campbell and James McConnon 1 try each; Ultan Murphy 3 cons, 1 pen.
Clonmel Scorers: Greg Carroll 1 try; Conor Cooney 1 pen.

Each hurdle cleared is a step closer to the target for Dundalk but they have a long trek west next week which will most likely be followed by their biggest test of the year a week later and all of that is thanks to Saturday’s comprehensive victory over Munster champions Clonmel.

Dundalk’s round one victory over Instonians in Belfast set this tie up as the decisive one in the pool and the Louth side bounced back from last week’s defeat to Enniscorthy with a strong performance a Mill Road.

UBL Results Round Up

Galwegians

Ulster Bank League Division 1a

BALLYNAHINCH 18 CLONTARF 33, Ballymacarn Park
Scorers: Ballynahinch: Tries: Steve Macauley, Michael Graham Rodger McBurney; Pen: Richard Reaney
Clontarf: Tries: Anthony Ryan, Conor O’Brien, David Joyce, Adrian D’Arcy; Cons: David Joyce, Rob Keogh; Pens: Rob Keogh 3

HT: Ballynahinch 8 Clontarf 17

CORK CONSTITUTION 3 UCD 10, Temple Hill
Scorers: Cork Constitution: Pen: Tomas Quinlan
UCD: Try: Liam Hyland; Con: Ross Byrne; Pen: Ross Byrne

HT: Cork Constitution 0 UCD 3

OLD BELVEDERE 18 TERENURE COLLEGE 8, Anglesea Road
Scorers: Old Belvedere: Pens: Josh Glynn 6
Terenure College: Try: Stephen O’Neill; Pen: James Thornton

HT: Old Belvedere 12 Terenure College 5

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