Monivea tackles its test-match fixture on Saturday, in Skerries, to determine its 2012/13 rugby future.

Skerries pre-dates the County Galway contingent by 50 years, but neither pedigree nor expectation counts for anything on Saturday as each attempts to secure senior rugby status and inclusion in next winter’s All-Ireland League.

Monivea kicked off its promotion campaign in fine form 27-17 victors over Munster’s Richmond. Travelling to Tyrone to meet Clogher Valley in game two, the wheels fell off amid a second-half meltdown and a late dropgoal from the hosts dampened Monivea’s return home.

Skerries’ 40-point demolition of Clogher Valley in week one means Monivea’s weekend may yet hinge on the Richmond v Clogher Valley game but nevertheless requires an 80-minute success against the Leinster junior champions.Mon12

The great Galway hope is in the driving seat atop the best-of-the-rest at present, two points clear of fellow one-game winners Clogher Valley by way of bonus points – a four-try effort in game one, and narrow losing margin in the second. Clogher Valley boasts only the single win for four points on the four-way competition table.

Monivea skipper Darren Blade was typically honest in his appraisal of the campaign to date.

“We know our strengths. We knew them before the campaign started, and nothing much has changed,” the little general said.

“We knew them against Richmond and played to them, and for the most part did the same against Clogher Valley. We just let Clogher Valley start both halves too well and we really buttoned off midway through the second.

“We totally lost our structure which was heartbreaking because we did everything and had everything we needed to go into this weekend two from two.”

Blade said that while disappointment still lingered, everybody involved in the Monivea set-up was focused on Saturday’s finale.

“We know their strengths, they’re flashy. They’ve probably better backs than they have forwards, and they’re mobile. We know what we have to do to counter expansion, and we’ve proven this year we can beat them.”

Monivea pipped Skerries 9-8 in the first round of the All-Ireland Junior Cup. Kick-off is at 2.30pm in Holmpatrick.

Should Monivea win, they leapfrog Skerries for automatic qualification as a senior club only three points shy of them at present. A draw, or unlikely four-try loss within the seven-point margin would give them two points for a tournament tally of eight.

Anything short of a Saturday afternoon victory vests their destiny in Tyrone hands. A Richmond win or draw likely leaves Monivea clear of rivals Clogher Valley. A Clogher Valley victory in the event Monivea’s gameplan unravels spells heartbreak.

It is a big heart they boast too, evidenced by Blade and co’s decision to run a kickable penalty on fulltime in game one. That heart has to be come to the fore in foreign territory if they’ve any chance of securing a berth in next year’s All-Ireland senior club rugby competition.


Connacht Emerging Talent squad named for game against Leinster North Midlands