Connemara RFC is the Bank of Ireland Cawley Cup champions for 2022. 

They defeated Westport on a scoreline of 39-19 in a cold Crowley Park on late Sunday afternoon. The game got off to a blistering start, with O’Toole brothers Michael and Henry both going over in the same corner to give the Clifden side an early commanding lead.

It was a lead that they would not give up for the entirety of the game, with David O’Reilly adding another try for Connemara before Westport even got on the board.

Leading up to half-time, some sustained pressure from Westport saw Poland international, Kacper Palamarczuk, grasp the opportunity to go through a gap in Connemara’s defence. This left the score 19-7  at the break.

Shortly after half-time, Westport gathered in their droves to push on again, with a heap of bodies ensuring the ball touched down over the line in the Galway City end.

However, that was as good as it good for the Mayo team, with Michael O’Toole adding another, before his brother Henry scored the try of the game, breaking from his own 22 outpacing several members of the Westport defence to touch down under the posts.

Connemara played out the rest of the game with relative ease, running out 39-19 victors, with captain Ian Staunton lifting the Cawley Cup trophy soon after.

In the Bank of Ireland Curley Cup final, University of Galway Rugby outscored Corinthians 2nd XV by seven tries to two, coming out 41-10 victors in Ballyhaunis.

In a well organised team display, College flyhallf Sean O’Grady capitalised on several loose passes from Corinthians, providing a strong counter-attacking platform for the side. A mention must also go to Peter Magliocco, who seemed to be getting on the end of every attack, eventually crossing the whitewash three times.

Lock Tireoin McCabe lifted the Bank of Ireland Cawley Cup as captain for the side.

A late try from Brian Ruane helped Tuam RFC overcome Buccaneers 2nd XV to become Bank of Ireland Cawley Plate champions for 2022, with a final scoreline of 19-22. Eoin Sweeney was brilliant throughout and picked up a brace of tries, as well as the Man of the Match, for the victors.

Corrib RFC overcame Ballinasloe by the minimum of margins in the Bank of Ireland Curley Plate final in Tuam, with the game ending 21-20.

Corrib won out in a contest between two very evenly matched sides, bringing the Curley Plate back to Headford for 2022.

In another close game, Oughterard RFC overcame OLBC in the Bank of Ireland Curley Bowl.

Both sides crossed the whitewash twice, but Oughterard edged it, finishing 20-12 victors in the end. Darragh O’Halloran won man of the match for the side, putting in an excellent performance in both attack and defence.

Buccaneers stayed atop the Energia All-Ireland League Division 1B this past weekend, putting in a controlling performance in their 9-23 victory over St Mary’s College.

Although making four enforced changes from the win over UCC, including a totally new front row, the Pirates were again relentless from start to finish in a fast-moving and highly entertaining contest.

Tries from Steveni Lombard, Shane Jennings and Harry West helped send the Midlands’ side on their way to another victory.

Meanwhile in Division 2B, Galway Corinthians RFC earned a hard-fought 20-26 victory over Malahide. This leaves the Corinthians second, five points adrift from unbeaten leaders Greystones.

Galwegians came close to ending Greystones’ winning streak at the weekend, as they were unfortunate to come out on the wrong end of a 12-14 scoreline.

The other Connacht club in action in Division 2B was Sligo, who put in a strong performance to get the better of Enniscorthy. Tries from both Daire Byrne and Cal Goddard sent them on their way on Saturday afternoon.

In Division 2C, Ballina were much improved in their 13-13 draw with Midleton. Ronan Molloy got the Mayo club’s sole try on their visit to County Cork. They will be hoping to build on that performance in their next fixture against Omagh.

BUCCANEERS are the new Energia All-Ireland League Division 1B leaders following an impressive 35-18 victory away to Malone at Gibson Park, Belfast, on Saturday. The Pirates set the tempo from the off and were full value for their bonus point win that edges the Midlanders to top spot on the league table.

Tries from Saul O’Carroll, Shane Layden and a brace from Shane Delahunt saw Buccs claim the bonus point win.

It was a mixed weekend for the Connacht sides in Division 2B this week, with Corinthians coming out on top against Enniscorthy, but both Sligo and Galwegians failing to pick up any points.

Rainey Old Boys got the better of Galwegians on a scoreline of 26-15. Tries from Ben McGuinness and Darragh Kennedy weren’t enough for ‘Wegians on the day.

Elsewhere, Sligo had a tough day against league leaders, Greystones, losing 15-35. Andrew Ward, Cathal Finneran and Darragh Feehily all crossed the whitewash for the side from the West.

Galway Corinthians follow Greystones, sitting 2nd in Division 2B. They further cemented their place towards the top of the table with a strong 43-10 victory over Enniscorthy this weekend. In Division 2C, Ballina came out the wrong side of a 43-12 scoreline against a strong Bruff side.

In the Women AIL Division 1, Galwegians lost a tight away game against Wicklow RFC 16-14. They now sit in fifth position in the league, but will be disappointed not to have built on a strong first half where they led 9-14 at the interval. Elizabeth McNicholas and Mairéad Coyne were ‘Wegians’ try scorers.

Buccaneers and Sligo square up at Dubarry Park on Saturday with the Bank of Ireland Connacht Senior League title at stake in this winner takes all final round fixture which kicks off at 2.30 p.m.

This comes after the Midland’s Club got the better of Corinthians last weekend via a 10-24 scoreline. Ryan O’Meara got the scoring underway for Buccs after some strong forward play, while Ruaidhri Fallon and Cian McCann also touched down for The Pirates.

Last weekend’s other Connacht Senior League game saw Galwegians finish their campaign with a 20-12 victory over Ballina. An excellent performance from Darragh Kennedy inspired the Galway side.

The full-back put in an immense kicking performance, as well as crossing the line for a try of his own. Karl Waterman also crossed the line via an excellent intercept try, atoning for his earlier yellow card.

The Bank of Ireland Connacht Senior League continued on Saturday afternoon with two local derbies. 

Ballina welcomed Sligo, while Corinthians travelled into Galway City to face Galwegians.

In a high scoring affair, Sligo proved to have too much for the young Ballina side, running out 45-26 victors. However, it wasn’t until the second half that Sligo’s strength in depth proved to be too much for the team from Mayo.

The sides went into the break with just three between them, with Sligo leading by 21-24. However, Ballina weren’t able to add to their tally until the closing stages as their counterparts raced into an unassailable 21-45 lead.

The weekend’s other Connacht Senior League game was a low scoring affair between two Galway sides, where it was Galwegians who made it two wins from two, running out 12-7 victors.

The home side built up a 12-0 lead, with Corinthians getting a late consolation try.

Those results left both Galwegians and Sligo with two wins on the board.

Buccaneers has earned one point in their sole outing so far, while both Ballina and Corinthians have one point on the board, with the latter having played a game more.

There are no Connacht Senior League fixtures next week, with Ballina welcoming Buccaneers and Sligo hosting Galwegians, the week after.

Full fixtures and the group table is available here.

It was a season to remember for Cathal Forde. The Galway native made his full debut for Connacht, signed a first senior contract, and was part of the Corinthians side that made it into the semi-finals of Energia AIL Division 2B. 

On top of that,  Cathal’s contribution to Corinthians’ run was recently recognised at the Energia All-Ireland League Awards, where he was announced as the Division 2B Player of the Year. 

Unexpected Honour

Despite an excellent club season, where he scored seven tries and had a goal kicking success rate of 84% (42/50), the centre was not expecting to be picking up the honour. 

“I had no idea. I found out the day before (the awards). It was a surprise, but definitely a good one. I knew it was a good season though and it was great to get the game time with Corinthians, but I didn’t expect (the award) to be honest”, said the centre when discussing the accolade. 

Corinthians’ season ended after a late Greystones try in the semi-finals dashed their hopes of promotion. 

“We started off pretty slow this season, but we then got into a good run of wins and the opportunity was there of getting into the playoffs and perhaps getting promotion, but Greystones were just very good on the day”, Forde said discussing his club’s journey. 

He was also keen to pay tribute to Corinthians outgoing head coach, JP Cooney, who will be stepping down from his position after this season.

“JP Cooney is obviously a great coach, but he’s also just a good person”. 

Successful Coaching

Although he is just at the start of professional playing journey, the man who is affectionally known as ‘Fordey’ has already made a foray into the world of coaching.

He was part of the Corinthians backroom team that won both the U-16 Division 1 league title and the Bank of Ireland U16 Cup Final this year.

For Forde, this was all about giving back to the grassroots side of the game that served him so well.

Discussing this, he said: “Myself and (fellow Connacht Academy player) Eoin de Buitléar, we’re helping out the under 16s with Simon Kavanagh and Niall Browne.”

“Niall Browne would have coached us growing up, so it’s nice to be giving back there. They’re a good bunch of lads and they have a few who are breaking into the Connacht underage system.”

Although Forde will be aiming to light up the Sportsground in the coming months, he recognises that it is the Corinthians club in Cloonacauneen, Co. Galway where it all started: “I think under-nines was my first year and Corinthians is a very community focussed club, so I’m always happy to be back there helping out”.

Connacht Ambition 

Cathal signed his first professional contract with Connacht in January of this year, making his debut later that month against Glasgow Warriors.  

Despite Connacht failing to get the better of the Scottish side on the day, Forde impressed, slotting over each one of his kicks at goal. 

“I thought I did alright, but obviously, the result didn’t go our way”, was his humble summation of a proud day for him and his family. 

Looking forward to next season, the U20 Ireland International recognises that bigger challenges await.

“Hopefully I will win more game time with the seniors and break into the squad a bit more in the new season. I know there are other quality centres there, but I am looking forward to the challenge” he added. 

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