Clonmel and Cashel seek final berth

IT will be a quiet weekend for most clubs on the Munster junior rugby scene, as many of them set to make their final preparations ahead of the opening league matches the following weekend.

There are still a couple of big matches, most notably the clash of Tipperary giants, Clonmel and Cashel, coming face to face with a place in the Junior Challenge Clubs Cup final at stake.

Both teams will fancy their chances of progressing to a decider against an impressive Crosshaven side. Clonmel were well beaten last week by a strong Clonakilty side in the ODM Financial Munster Senior Cup.

That game was always likely to be a step too far but did give the players exposure to a higher level of rugby. How they learn from that experience could not only have a major impact on this weekend’s clash but also for the season ahead.

They will be hoping their strong pack can get the better of the forward exchanges with the boots of Conor Cooney and Danny Lyons likely to be a valuable asset if Cashel infringe anywhere inside their own half.

Cashel have enjoyed silverware in recent years and will feel that they are capable of claiming more notable trophies. They will see this game as a chance not only to advance to the final but also to send out a statement of intent to all their rivals. Pat O’Connor has been the leading light of the team at this early stage, but Cashel possess formidable talent throughout the team. They will be expecting their powerful forward unit to exert plenty of pressure on their opponents at the breakdown. This weekend also sees the conclusion of the Martin O’Sullivan Cup as Presentation and Waterford City meet in the final in Thurles. Both teams have produced some strong displays to get to this stage.

It has been a dramatic campaign so far for the Waterford side with all of their previous encounters going down to the wire. They have shown great composure and stamina to emerge victorious and will not be panic if the game is up for grabs going into the closing 10 minutes. They have proved particularly successful at opening up opposing defences with Jason Power and Damien Kennedy proving lethal when given an opportunity while Aaron Foskin has racked up the points with the boot.

Presentation also had a tough path to the final although they had things slightly more comfortable in their recent success over in-form Scariff. Mark Phair has been one of their shining lights so far and Waterford City will need to keep him quiet if they are to succeed. The Limerick side will be eager to get off to a good start but the experience of prevailing in close matches may help see the Waterford side through.

There is one game in the Cork County Cup where Skibbereen will be strong favourites to prevail as they host Charleville. The weekend also sees the commencement of games in the Junior Two leagues. It is a very significant week in the Kingdom, with two new clubs making their debut in adult league rugby.

Kenmare will be hoping to get a big crowd out as they host a very strong Tralee side while Iveragh from South Kerry will play their home games in Caherciveen. They make the trip over to take on Killarney. The other game in Section A sees Castleisland hosting Listowel. Some of the other highlights this weekend sees Cobh Pirates seeking revenge for their Dennehy Cup semi-final defeat to Cork Constitution at the Paddocks while Old Christians travel to Highfield hoping to replicate their victory in last Sunday’s O’Sullivan Cup final over the same opposition.

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