Cobh Pirates face big challenge against in-form Richmond

THE first semi-final in the Munster Challenge Cup is the highlight of this weekend’s Junior programme as a rejuvenated Cobh Pirates side test themselves against in-form Richmond at the Paddocks.

The East Cork team have had a strong start to the season with a pair of impressive victories over Galbally and Tralee. Mark Chandler at out-half is proving to be a key playmaker, while they possess plenty of firepower up front with a mean defence making it difficult for opponents to break them down.

That defence will have to be at their best this weekend if they are to keep in the game, as Richmond show little sign of falling by the wayside after a series of excellent seasons.

The Limerick team are well capable of mixing their style of play and if they can edge the forward battle they have a strong back-line that are very dangerous when given quick possession.

Kilfeacle have their semi-final place booked after a surprisingly easy victory over arch rivals Clanwilliam. They will be keeping a close eye on events in West Cork as Skibbereen host Crosshaven in the other quarter-final.

Skibbereen possess a very experienced outfit, with players such as Ivan Jennings epitomising the team spirit in the club, while David Shannon has shown promising form.

All-Ireland Junior Cup champions Crosshaven will have a good indication of how they are set for this season after their trip West. The Myrtleville side will be aiming for further honours this season but know that they will need further work having turned around an early deficit against Waterpark.

The Junior Challenge Shield quarter-finals will go ahead this weekend. Presentation proved they will be a force to be reckoned with after winning at Bandon last week. Mark Phair was in outstanding form and they face another tough tie as they host Mallow. The North Cork team had too much class for Scariff and will hope that their greater experience at a higher level can see them progress to the semis.

Newcastle West were pushed all the way by St Mary’s and will be battle-hardened for the trip to Newport. It should be a tough encounter with home advantage likely to be decisive.

Ballincollig will hope to bounce back from last season and will fancy their chances of progressing to the semi-finals as they host Youghal while Kinsale probably put in the best performance in the First Round ties last week. If they can reproduce the form they showed against Muskerry they could well book their place in the last four, although a trip to Killarney will not be easy.

In the Martin O’Sullivan Cup, the stand out tie is the local derby between Carrick-on-Suir and Dungarvan while two of the front-runners for Division Three; Fermoy and Abbeyfeale should also produce a very close game. Charleville will be confident of another win on the road at Douglas while Waterford City should be too strong at home to Shandon.

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