Connemara advanced to the semi-final of the All Ireland Junior Cup after a 17-11 victory over Kilfeacle on Saturday last at the Monastery Field, Clifden. 

 

Despite spending the majority of the game down to 14 men, via a red card early in the first half, the Blacks made more of their scoring opportunities and outscored the Tipperary men by three tries to one. 

 

David O’Reilly, John O’Brien and Fionn Heffernan all crossed for the Connacht team, in front of a raucous local crowd, with Henry O’Toole tacking on a conversion. 

 

Kilfeacle, meanwhile, registered an uncovered try and two penalties but it was the home team — with their skilful attack and physicality — who deservedly advanced to the final four. 

 

Second row O’Reilly was rewarded for his opportunism when he dove on a bouncing ball in the goal area to touch down for the first score, which O’Toole converted to establish a 7-0 lead for the home team. 

 

The visitors seized initiative thereafter and — with a two-man advantage after a yellow card was added to the earlier red to a Connemara player — scored eleven unanswered points in a profitable twenty-minute period either side of halftime. Their number 8 crossed for a try and their fly-half tacked on two penalties. 

 

But at 11-7 behind, Connemara —  despite losing one and, temporarily two players — were always in the contest and the introduction of the Staunton brothers, Niall and Ian, in the pack helped shift the tide of momentum in their favour. 

 

Committed to running the ball, the Blacks were rewarded for their ambition when a sweeping move involving both backs and forwards brought them into Kilfeacle territory. 

 

With a penalty advantage, Connemara worked the ball right and centre Mark Joyce deftly offloaded to his midfield partner O’Brien, who evaded the attentions of the defence, to dive over in the right-hand corner. 

 

Not content with consolidating their 12-11 lead, the hosts looked to grow it and with the game in its dying embers, they had their third five-pointer. An enterprising move — again involving both backs and forwards — found tight-head prop Heffernan outside the 22 and, selling two dummies, the forward paced in to touch down in the corner to complete the win at 17-11. 

 

Meanwhile, in the Bank of Ireland Connacht J1A league bottom placed Monivea RFC won their first game of the season after defeating Westport 24-19 at home.

 

With only three rounds played, seven points separate top placed Buccaneers 2nd XV and Monivea on 10 points and three points respectively. 

 

Elsewhere in the Bank of Ireland J1B league, Ballina 2nd XV defeated Dunmore, while Ballinrobe beat NUIG 15-13 in a tight affair. 

 

The results see Ballinrobe three points clear at the top of the table, with NUIG three points behind in second. 

 

Eight points separate Corrib in third on nine points and bottomed placed Galwegians on one point, with all teams — apart from Corrib and Corininthians 2nd XV on three games played — having played four rounds of fixtures.

 

Photo credit: Yvonne DeLappe

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