The tale of the tape a month out from the Heineken Connacht Junior Cup final makes for fascinating reading, much the same as Galwegians and Loughrea’s respective campaign trails to get there.

Loughrea start as underdogs given their third-placed Junior 1B league standing, and cannot claim “heavyweight” status among this winter’s rugby ranks, but only the brave and stupid would label them “lightweights”.final_640x331

They’ve posted 251 points this year in 11 league games – the second-highest tally on the table. Compounding that ability to outscore opposition is the fact they’ve conceded fewer than 100; 82 to be exact. Finals football has long hinged on teams’ abilities to starve opposition access to the scoreboard. It is the best defensive record in 1B, better than any corresponding record in 1A, and two points shy of second-spot in all Junior Division 1 rugby to date.

They held Div1B leaders Buccaneers scoreless in their first encounter, and they’ve won nine of 11. While lighter than most 1A complements, the weight match-up against Galwegians is fairly even.

Galwegians is young. And by “young” read “near pre-pubescent”. Not that inexperience counts for anything on the back of the Monivea semi-final shut-out.

The Galwegians youngsters (with an average age of around 20 and-a-half) are slick.

The Glenina Massive has experience to call on if need be, but in short, they likely won’t. They don’t need to. Not with a team that has proven itself against older, and wiser, opposition.

They’ve won six times at home, and three away. And while they’ve posted three each home and away, wins and losses, their record since November 13 makes for pretty happy reading.

Seven wins from seven attempts, including a Corinthians local darby, table-toppers OLBC and Ballina, and the much-vaunted Monivea scalp 13-8 which ultimately won them a berth in this final.

Bizarrely, second-placed Galwegians has conceded more points than they’ve scored, and are the only squad in the 1A league’s top-four with the ignominy of a differential deficit. This counts in Loughrea’s favour, but in fairness, if you’re as good as your last game, Galwegians need not hit the panic button.

A win against the (almost) indomitable Monivea, and six wins prior, speaks volumes for their post-Christmas playing record.

Loughrea has every chance to claim this trophy and while their pedigree hardly matches up to their opposition’s, they are here, which gives them a far greater chance than has Ballina of winning the Connacht Junior Heineken Cup this year, and indeed anyone other than Galwegians.

Loughrea will turn up. That is a given. They have an opportunity seldom afforded anyone outside the 1A top-five, and they will take it.

Galwegians by contrast, are on a streak, which makes them equally dangerous.

April 1, lock it in. It’s well worth a look. It would be foolish if you didn’t.


Connacht Emerging Talent squad named for game against Leinster North Midlands