Clonmel clinging to faint promotion hopes

It is the time of year when several clubs will be battling it out for silverware. Meanwhile, the province’s top Junior club, Clonmel, saw their hopes of going up to the Ulster Bank League suffer an serious blow by last weekend’s defeat to Dundalk.

The Louth side now travel to Connemara who have shipped heavy defeats in each of their two games so far and have yet to register a score. The All Ireland Cup Champions should prove far too strong for the Connemara All Blacks and a win will give Dundalk a play-off away to De La Salle Palmerston to gain a place with the Senior clubs.

In the highly unlikely event of an upset in that game, the match in Belfast between Instonians could see the winners take on DLSP in that play-off. Both clubs will be expecting to play for second. With a Junior Cup semi-final coming up with Young Munster, Clonmel may not want to risk any players with any niggling injuries. On the other hand though, they will be eager to prove themselves against one of the other top junior clubs in the country and a win at Instonians would be a great way to end their Round Robin campaign.

Up in Fermoy on Sunday, Skibbereen and Thurles will battle it out in what should be an intriguing Junior Plate Final. The sides had contrasting victories last weekend to secure their place in the decider. Skibbereen were involved in a real dog-fight away to Nenagh Ormond and showed superb battling qualities to win out courtesy of three penalties from the boot of Ger Hurley. They also can open up defences with Alex Maseesee and Greg O’Mahony being strong finishers.

Thurles have enjoyed a strong campaign in Division Two and will be eager to cause an upset. They proved their capabilities with a big win down in Cork Constitution, playing some scintillating attacking rugby. They know they will need to mix it up against a powerful Skibb’ side but won’t back down from the challenge. Nicky Irwin has been in sublime form and could prove a match winner for them while the West Cork club will also need to keep a close watch on the likes of Eoghan O’Dwyer and Phil Kelly as well.

Down in Musgrave Park, Ennis make the long trek down as they bid to claim the Munster Junior Bowl. Their opponents will be very familiar with the surroundings as Sunday’s Well’s Seconds will be aiming to follow up on the recent success of their Senior side.

The Clare side have already dispatched a Senior Cork club when they edged out UCC in an enthralling encounter. Sean Hayes can rack up the points both with the boot and with ball in hand while Conor Dolan has been another strong performer for them.

Senior Coach Robbie Doyle is a key man at half-back for Sunday’s Well, while at hooker Willie McCarthy is a real powerful ball carrier despite his size and will be as eager as anyone to claim a trophy.

In Clonmel, Galbally and Waterford City will battle it out for the Garryowen Cup. Sean Bourke is the key man for Galbally with Gordon Peters another danger-man for them. Waterford City are well capable of matching their opponents from a higher Division. They have a range of kicking options through Aaron Foskin and Michael Hayes and will punish any indiscipline by their opponents.

Highfield and Corca Dhuibhne should provide some very open entertaining rugby as they face-off for the Junior Two League in Ballyanly.

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