Junior Rugby round up: Unbeaten Clonmel and Richmond battle it out for place in cup final

The big games this weekend are the two Munster Junior Challenge Cup semi-finals, with top-ranked Clonmel and Richmond facing up against each other, while the second semi-final involves St Senans against Galbally.

Both Clonmel and Richmond are unbeaten in the league and the Tipp club have home advantage. Clonmel sit at the top of the table and have been able to win games impressively or in digging deep to grind out results when required. Denis Leamy’s troops will be fully focused as they look to replicate their double from last season.

The kicking and general play of Conor Cooney could again prove crucial for Clonmel, who will also hope the likes of Ronan Crosse can replicate his excellent form. Richmond have shown great character to bounce back from the disappointment of relegation from the Ulster Bank League.

Having retained most of their squad, they have got back to winning ways and, despite having to go through several weeks with minimal action, they impressed last time out with a bonus point victory away to Waterpark.

Gareth O’Hanlon has been a standout performer this season, with Wayne Murphy and Johnny Moroney also key to the club’s rejuvenation. It should be a real battle and each will fancy the chance of claiming a major piece of silverware.

St Senan’s and Galbally won’t mind being out of the limelight this weekend. The County Limerick outfit in particular have impressed with a string of fine wins in the league. Stephen Bourke has been central to their extra campaign and their big pack will look to put their opponents under pressure.

Senan’s have plenty of talent throughout their team. Fernando Gallant has been in fine try-scoring form and he will need to show all his clinical finishing ability to breach a very tight Galbally defence.

The semi-finals of the Junior Challenge Shield are also down for decision. Despite being at home, Mallow will be underdogs against Abbeyfeale. The North Cork side may enjoy some respite from their league troubles but the form book suggests they will need a big performance to have any chance. The other semi-final should be closer to call as Thurles host Cobh Pirates who may have enough experience to pull through.

In the Martin O’Sullivan Cup, Bantry Bay hope they can cause an upset as they host a Crosshaven side finally getting back to winning ways.

There are also a couple of league fixtures down for decision on Sunday. Muskerry’s recent good run came to a halt with a narrow defeat to Galbally but they should still be high in confidence as they host Waterpark.

In Division Two, Charleville will have their work cut out at home to Kinsale, while Newport should push up the table with a home win over Dungarvan.

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