Junior Rugby Focus
Anothee big weekend across the junior leagues in Munster with plenty of eye-catching fixtures that can have a big say at the top and bottom end of the tables. Newcastle West reclaimed top spot after Clonmel lost to St Senan’s and will aim to maintain that position while the clash of Cobh Pirates and Tralee is the biggest game so far in the battle against relegation.
Newcastle West will be buoyed by regaining top spot but they can’t rest on their laurels as they face a tough trip to Kilfeacle. The Tipperary side are a proud club and would love to throw a spanner in the works. The West Limerick side will need to show all their battling qualities.
Clonmel are only a point behind the leaders; St Mary’s could well face a backlash as they travel to South Tipperary. The Limerick side possess plenty of talented players but have had mixed form this season. Denis Leamy will ensure his Clonmel players have learnt quickly from their errors and they well push hard for a bonus point.
At the other end of the table all eyes will be on Kerry as Tralee host Cobh Pirates. Despite a surprise victory at Old Christians, Tralee remain second bottom, one point behind the Pirates who earned a draw against Mary’s. Tralee have looked disjointed but may be hitting form at a crucial time while the Pirates have been competitive without having enough of a cutting edge. It should be an intense encounter.
Bottom side Kinsale pushed Newcastle West all the way last time out. Despite being winless, they have produced some fine displays, particularly in attack. They host third placed St Senan’s as the sides renew their rivalry from last year’s Division Two campaign.
Muskerry host Skibbereen with both sides aiming for an All-Ireland Cup spot while Clonakilty also have that ambition as they host Waterpark. Galbally welcome Old Christians where a win would be a big step towards safety for either side.
In Division Two, it is first against third as Bandon host Thurles. The Cork side have looked imperious but it was the Tipperary club who pushed them closest when they met in the Shield. This is Bandon’s toughest league game so far and with Thurles still in the hunt for promotion they won’t find it easy. If the Cork side can gain parity up front, they possess a wealth of talent in the backs.
Second-placed Clanwilliam face a potential banana skin at Ballincollig, who had a great win against Castleisland. A win for the home side should cement their place in the division.
Killarney travel to Newport with the Kerry side currently in danger of the drop. A Killarney win could haul Newport back into the relegation scrap. Youghal are also in the battle for survival and will hope to make home advantage count against s mid-table Abbeyfeale.
In Division Three, Charleville and Dungarvan should both earn promotion. Their tie at the weekend could decide the destination of the league title as they face off in North Cork. Charleville already defeated their opponents in the Martin O’Sullivan Cup and could well reclaim top spot with one game to go. Douglas should beat Bantry Bay to keep their slim promotion hopes alive.
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