Spotlight switches to lower grades

WITH the majority of clubs on a break from competitive action, before next week’s opening games in the Heineken Munster Junior Cup, the main action is in the lower grades this weekend.

Old rivals Bruff and Nenagh Ormond will contest the Gleeson League Final at Thomond Park next Sunday, with Bruff looking for their first ever success at this grade, while Nenagh lifted the trophy for their only time back in the 1999/00 season.

Both sides have also tasted defeat in this final, Nenagh lost their crown to Kilfeacle in the 2001 decider, while Bruff saw the trophy snatched from them in the last minute of last season’s final, when Garryowen defeated them 24-21 with a late try. Bruff will start favourites having been very impressive in beating Old Crescent in the semi-final where Tony Trechy was in fine form.

Fergus Austin was the star in Nenagh’s victory over Thomond in the other semi-final where two late penalties saw the Tipperary side edge out Thomond 18-15 and they will want to make amends for their side’s defeat by Bruff in the Challenge Cup Final two weeks ago.

Defending champions U L Bohemian could see their interest in the Munster Seconds League end when they travel to Temple Hill to face Cork Constitution. The home side at present trail leaders Garryowen by four points and should close the gap with a victory.

Dolphin travel to Limerick to face Young Munster at Clifford Park and should keep their outside hopes alive.

The big game in Division Two of this competition is the meeting of Highfield and Midleton at Woodleigh Park.

The East Cork side are currently two points behind the leader’s Thomond, and a win will see them draw level with the Limerick side, while a victory for Highfield will see them move into second place a point behind the leaders. This game also counts in the Junior League South, where a win for Midleton will see them join Cork Constitution at the top of the table with both sides having one more game to play against College.

Skibbereen entertain Bandon in the annual Swanton Cup tie at Skibbereen and the current form of the home side could see them upset the odds with a victory over the First Division side.

The race is also hotting up in the Junior Two League South with all the top sides are in action. Ballincollig, the surprising leaders at this stage, have a home game against a fast improving Bantry Bay outfit, but the leaders will be expected to pick up the points.

Muskerry, in second place, travel to Cobh Pirates who are in third place and a win here is vital to both sides. The Pirates, two points off the lead with a game in hand, should win and move closer to their first ever success at this grade.

Current holders Cork Constitution are away to Bandon and these sides can always be relied on to serve up a great contest. With the disappointment of last week’s Cup defeat behind them, the West Cork side will be anxious to make amends to keep them in the league race with a win.

Crosshaven will be hoping to follow up on their Kelly Cup success with a home victory over Youghal.

Killorglin, the only main challengers to Old Christians in the Junior Three League, can close the gap on the leaders with a win away to Castleisland.

This club, founded three years ago, has made great strides and another victory would be a big boost for them.

Clonakilty entertain bottom side Tralee and while the home side should win, they are unlikely to be involved in the final shake up for honours.

Glenbeigh will fancy their chances of picking up their second win in Division Two with a home win over bottom side Sunday’s Well.

Holders Kanturk begin their defence of the McCarthy Cup with a home tie against Skibbereen and, on current league form, should book their place in the semi-final.

The West Cork side had an impressive win over Shandon in the last round and would not want to be under estimated.

Fermoy who had a narrow win over Muskerry in the last round face last season’s beaten finalists Carrigaline. Having already won the Ballyrandle Cup this season, the North Cork side will make a strong bid to add this trophy to their collection.

Charleville travel to Cork to face Cork Transport at Cois Laoi. The home side have been hit badly by injuries this season and with a small squad to choose from, they have been finding it difficult to fulfil their fixtures recently. Despite all their problems they can be relied on to give a good account of themselves, and a win would be a big boost especially at this crucial point in the club’s history.

Bandon take on Cobh Pirates in the other quarter final tie and home advantage should see the West Cork side reach the last four.

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