Second only behind resolution wishlists in New Year importance is Cup footy – that much-vaunted exemplar of high-pressure rugby and ignominious early summer holidays.

For the successful, it prolongs the winter by way of do-or-die advances through latter rounds, quarter and semi-finals; and for those who finish on the lower side of the ledger after 80 minutes matches become fewer and further between. This weekend is a Cup rugby bonanza and opens with Buccaneers and Galwegians on Friday at 7.30pm, each vying for an all-Ireland semi-final berth in the Bateman Cup.

The Junior Division 1A table enters the Heineken Junior Cup, and the Galwegians Women open both their AIL national cup and Leinster Cup campaigns in Dublin. The Bish’ (St Joseph’s town) beat Clifden Community College, both already in the Connacht Schools Cup next week, on Thursday and sorted out second-tier supremacy for Development Cup honours. The other school headline this week involved the little-known (in rugby circles) CBS Roscommon who gained entry into the premier Supermacs Connacht Schools Junior Cup by way of their development cup semi-final success over The Jes’.

And throughout the province, despite school commitments, a waterlogged winter, and shortage of viable surfaces, Connacht’s underage grades too fire off round after round of quarter-final and semi-final match-ups. While weather may yet rain proverbial spanners into various works, this season is primed for a stellar finish.

Both Monivea and Westport remain alive in the Ulster Bank All-Ireland Junior Cup, their fates hereafter play out on February 4 against Coleraine and Tullamore, with each to play local cup games in the interim, and the under17 and under15 grades are as scintillating as any following respective divisional split competitions.

While top-placed contenders selected themselves, there was an almighty race on for the third and fourth spots with seven teams across the competitions able to secure knock-out competition entry.

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