CONNEMARA 20 CREGGS 14
By John O’Sullivan
 
Connemara qualified for the Connacht Junior Cup semi finals after a hard fought victory over Creggs on Sunday at the Monastery Field.
 
In a repeat of last season’s Junior Cup final, 12 points from Henry O’Toole and a Shane Sweeney try secured victory for the hosts, but it was their defence — which the rock solid centre Eoin Bourke personified — that won the day.
 
The visitors, meanwhile, registered three penalties through Shane Purcell and notched a try from Maurice Buckley. But, despite having the lions share of territory and possession, Creggs were unable to prize open the Blacks stubborn defence on enough occasions. The win gives Connemara the opportunity to complete consecutive Connacht League and Cup doubles.
 
Connemara and Creggs were winners and runners up in both the League and Cup last season and it was clear from the beginning of the game that there was no love lost between both sets of players.
 
The tempo was high and the physicality was intense and it was the home team who started better. The first of many dominant scrums provided clean ball for the Blacks’ backs. The ball was worked to last season’s Connacht Junior Player of the year, Henry O’Toole, and the full back drew a tackle before releasing the scoring pass to winger Shane Sweeney to touch down.
 
5-0 soon became 8-0 with a penalty from O’Toole as another powerful scrum the home team yielded a penalty.
 
If Connemara were dominant in the scrum, then Creggs’ line out was in the ascendancy. Accurate throws from Buckley fed a dominant maul which sent the Blacks marching backwards at a rate of knots. It was through this route that the visitors got themselves on the board. Purcell accurately slotted a penalty after the hosts were penalised for collapsing a maul.
 
Creggs were now well and truly in the game and two Purcell penalties translated their dominance into points. But the Blacks — through O’Toole and Sweeney — scored two three pointers themselves, showing a clinical touch despite having meagre amounts of possession and territory, to make the half time score 14-9.
 
The second half was played in the same manner as the first; Creggs dominant but the hosts defence proving well organised and game, even when two separate yellow cards twice reduced them to 14 men.
 
The ever impressive Shane Dowd at full back and outside centre Eoghan Coyle both made running incisions into Connemara territory but every attempt was met with the same resistance.
 
On the rare occasions they enjoyed possession, the home team made it count on the board; a capability and efficiency that ultimately proved the difference between the sides. Two more O’Toole penalties brought the score to 20-9 and time was running out for Creggs to find a route to victory.
 
Another surging rolling maul saw the visitors drive their opponents backwards and this time — unlike all the others — it bore try scoring fruit with Buckley touching down at the base. The block was against Creggs, however, and when an attempted, quick drop kick conversion drifted wide the final whistle sounded.
 

Connemara team: (15-9): H.O’Toole; S.Sweeney; E.Bourke, D.McDonagh, M.Conneely; C.Jonas, M.O’Toole; (8-1): T.J.Berry, P.Lee; C.O’Malley; K.Keogh, N.Staunton; I.Staunton, B.Gibbons, E.Conroy.

Replacements: M.Mullins, J.Vaughan, D.Kennedy, I.Heanue, F.Heffernan.
 
Creggs team: (15-9): S.Dowd; K.Gavin; E.Coyle, T.Callaghan; S.Purcell, A.Callaghan; (8-1) B.Diffley, P.Lohan, J.Brandon; B.Donoghue, K.Brandon; A.Leech, M.Buckley, T.Fleming.

Replacements: D.Arnold, R.Horan, E.Farrell, R.Cahill, M.Brandon.

The quarter-final draw for the 2020 Connacht Junior Cup has thrown up a repeat pairing of last year’s final with Connemara taking on Creggs in the last eight.
 
Connemara who are reigning J1A league and Junior Cup holders are aiming for a historic back-to-back double, with the Clifden side six points clear of Creggs at the top of J1A with a game in hand.
 
The two sides learned their fate after coming through their Round of 16 ties over the weekend, with Connemara seeing off Loughrea 15-6 while Creggs defeated Westport 16-9.
 
That game is the only all-J1A tie of the quarter-finals. Castlebar who are 4th in J1A will play host to Corrib, Monivea make the trip to Corinthians while Buccaneers play host to Ballinrobe.
 
All the quarter-finals take place this Sunday 19th January with kick-offs at 2pm.
 
2020 CONNACHT JUNIOR CUP

Preliminary Round (Sunday 5th January)
Ballyhaunis 13-3 Galwegians
Corinthians 39-22 Ballina
Corrib 22-13 Dunmore
Loughrea w/o-con NUIG

Round of 16 (Sunday 12th January)
Ballinrobe 15-14 Carrick-on-Shannon
Buccaneers 31-3 Sligo
Castlebar 17-14 Tuam
Corinthians 31-14 Ballyhaunis
Loughrea 6-15 Connemara
Monivea 35-10 Ballinasloe
OLBC 7-61 Corrib
Westport 9-16 Creggs

Quarter-Finals (Sunday 19th January)
Buccaneers v Ballinrobe
Castlebar v Corrib
Connemara v Creggs
Corinthians v Monivea

Connemara won the repeat of last season’s Connacht Junior Cup final with a 16-8 victory away to Creggs on Saturday night, writes John O’Sullivan.
 
The Blacks, who began the game at the top of the Connacht J1A League, trailed to an unconverted Eoghan Coyle try, but rallied in the second half and sealed the victory thanks to a late Curtis Jonas try — added to three Henry O’Toole penalties — which Shane Sweeney converted.
 
Creggs and Connemara went head to head for both the Connacht Junior League and Cup last season, with the Clifden based side victorious in both competitions, and it was clear from the early exchanges that the hosts were keen to avenge their defeats.
 
The tempo of both teams’ defensive line-speed was at a ferocious level and the ambition with ball in hand was evident. The running games that brought so much success for both of the games contestants last season still the weapon choice.
 
However, defensive solidity was the prominent feature of the opening 20 minutes with the game played largely between both sides 22s.
 
It appeared as if it would take something special to open the nights try scoring account, and Creggs duly obliged midway through the half.
 
Eoghan Coyle, brushing off four would be tackles, burst through the Connemara defence and ran in a score of individual brilliance from the halfway line, much to the delight of the large crowd assembled under the new stand at The Green.
 
Shane Purcell’s conversion, from tight to the right hand touchline, was narrowly wide but any lead in a game of such narrow margins felt huge.
 
To the visitor’s credit, the concession of a try stirred a reaction from them and they were on the board themselves not long after. After a high tackle yielded a penalty, O’Toole — last season’s Connacht Junior Player of the Year — slotted the three points to make the score at half time 5-3 in favour of Creggs.
 
The second half saw no dampening of the attacking approach and Creggs’ Brian Diffley and Connemara’s Niall Staunton were both willing and massively effective ball carriers.
 
The home side notched the first points of the half when Purcell, after the Blacks were penalised for being offside, bisected the posts with an accurate penalty.
 
An 8-3 lead would be as good as it got for Creggs, though, as Connemara began to assert themselves and eventually make it count on the scoreboard.
 
Two further O’Toole penalties gave the table toppers a narrow 9-8 lead, but the best was saved to last for Connemara.
 
Picking up at the back of a retreating scrum just inside his own half, number 8 Jack Vaughan made headway through the heart of the Creggs defence before offloading to his scrum half, Michael O’Toole.
 
O’Toole, jinking through contact, found centre David McDonagh whose powerful run brought the Blacks deep into the 22. Before being tackled near the line, McDonagh had the wherewithal to skillfully offload to the onrushing fly half, Jonas, who acrobatically touched down for a try worthy of winning any game.
 
The conversion, from a difficult angle on the left hand side, was struck firmly and true by Sweeney to give the Blacks the win and — perhaps crucially come the end of the season — take the losing bonus point away from Creggs.
 
Creggs
T.Fleming, M.Buckley, A.Leech; I.Whittington, B.Donoghue; P.Lohan, J.Brandon(C), B.Diffley; E.Coyle, S.Purcell; K.Gavin; T.Callaghan, E.Jennings; R.Dowd; S.Dowd.
Replacements:D.Arnold, S.Higgins, K.Brandon, M.Brandon, M.Quinn.
 
Connemara
E.Conroy, B.Gibbons, F.Heffernan; M.Mullins, N.Staunton; J.Vaughan, P.Lee, K.Keogh; M.O’Toole, C.Jonas; P.O’Toole(C); D.McDonagh, E.Bourke; M.Conneely; H.O’Toole.
Replacements: K.Barry, C.O’Malley, S.Sweeney, R.O’Halloran, E.Conneely

The biggest ever Connacht Rugby Summer Camp with totalhealth Pharmacy is taking place at Creggs RFC this week.
 
Here’s a quick look at how the club is continuing to grow on and off the field 💪 #GrassrootsToGreenShirts
 

The draw for the 2019/20 All-Ireland Junior Cup has been made. Round 1 kicks off on October 26th with 16 clubs from all four provinces facing off.
 
Cup holders Ashbourne, who will be aiming for an incredible and historic four in a row, open their defense of the coveted trophy with a home game against Creggs.
 
Last season’s beaten finalists and former winners Enniscorthy have been promoted to Division 2C of the All-Ireland League – a well worn path for several previous winners.
 
Knocked out at the semi-final stage last time around, Wicklow are drawn away to Kilfeacle in Round 1.
 
Monivea, beaten finalists in 2011 and 2012, are away to cup newcomers Kilkenny.
 
The quarter-finals will take place on 19th November with the semi-finals pencilled in for the 14th December. The 2019/20 All-Ireland Junior Cup Final will take place on the 25th January, 2020.
 
All-Ireland Junior Cup 2019/20 – Round 1
Saturday 26th October, 2019, kick off 2.30

Ashbourne v Creggs
Richmond v Grosvenor
Dromore v Newcastle West
Connemara v Gorey
Instonians v Crosshaven
Kilkenny v Monivea
Kilfeacle v Wicklow
Castlebar v Ballyclare
 
ALL-IRELAND JUNIOR CUP – LIST OF CHAMPIONS
2019 – Ashbourne 16 – Enniscorthy 11, Edenderry RFC – Report & Highlights
2018 – Ashbourne 18 Kilfeacle & District 9, Portlaoise RFC – Report & Highlights
2017 – Ashbourne 22 Enniscorthy 20, Energia Park – Report & Highlights
2016 – Enniscorthy 23 Instonians 7, Ashbourne RFC – Report & Highlights
2015 – Dundalk 55 Bangor 5, Portadown 5 – Highlights
2014 – Enniscorthy 10 Clogher Valley 9, Coolmine RFC
2013 – Tullamore 29 Enniscorthy 10, Cill Dara RFC
2012 – Tullamore 9 Monivea 3, Dubarry Park
2011 – Crosshaven 17 Monivea 9, Templeville Road
2010 – City of Derry 19 City Of Armagh 17, Dubarry Park
2009 – Tullamore 23 Navan 13, Dubarry Park
2008 – Navan 20 Tullamore 6, Dubarry Park
2007 – Seapoint 47 Coleraine 15, Dubarry Park
2006 – Rainey Old Boys 27 Youghal 5, Lansdowne Road

? | Here are some of the best snaps from yesterday’s U16 Boys Cup final which was won by Ballina RFC after a 19-10 victory over Creggs Rfc.
 

The Connacht Junior Cup is heading to Clifden after a brilliant display by Connemara gave them victory in today’s final at a sunny Sportsground.
 
A 25-6 win over J1A runners-up Creggs secured a historic league and cup double for Connemara, and sets them up perfectly for a tilt at the AIL Provincial League Championship and with it a potential spot in next season’s All-Ireland League.
 


It was Creggs who took an early lead from the boot of Shane Dowd, but Connemara gave themselves a healthy lead when tries from Michael O’Toole and Henry O’Toole pulled them 12-3 clear. A huge second penalty from Dowd reduced the gap to six points which is how they went into the break.
 
The 3rd quarter was played almost entirely in the Creggs 22 as the league winners dominated possession and territory, though the Roscommon side’s defence held up very well. In the end the pressure eventually told in the 69th minute when a beautifully worked move was finished off by David McDonagh under the posts, and the icing was put on the cake 2 minute before the full-time whistle when Henry O’Toole kicked a further three points.
 


The full-time whistle sparked scenes of jubilation on and off the field, and in the end it was a deserved victory for the Galway side.
 

Seven teams from eight clubs have learned their opponents for this year’s Connacht U20 Cup which will be held across the month of April.
 
The U20 Cup will see teams representing Ballina, Ballinrobe, Connemara Corinthians, Creggs, Monivea/Westport and Sligo face off in a knockout series of games with three quarter-finals before two semi-finals and a decider on the Easter weekend.
 
The draw was conducted by two Connacht men who were integral to Ireland U20s Grand Slam win – forwards coach Ambrose Conboy and hooker Dylan Tierney-Martin.
 
Check out the pairings of some intruiging games we’ve got coming up in the weeks ahead!
 

QUARTER-FINALS
Sligo v Ballina
Monivea/Westport v Ballinrobe
Creggs v Connemara

SEMI-FINALS
Sligo or Ballina v Monivea/Westport or Ballinrobe
Creggs or Connemara v Corinthians

Two of the best junior clubs in Connacht this season go head-to-head on Sunday when Connemara RFC and Creggs RFC face off in the 2019 Connacht Junior Cup final.
 
The game is a fitting climax to the junior rugby season, after both sides quickly became the teams to beat in the J1A League. In the end it was Connemara who came away with the league title, with their 13-8 win away to Creggs at the start of the February proving to the all-important turning point in the title race. Further wins over Sligo and Westport were to follow and the league was then secured. Next up for Connemara is the AIL Provincial League Championship, as they face off against the respective Junior League winners from the three other provinces for a place in next season’s AIL.
 
Even though Creggs came up short in their league title race, it’s still been a hugely productive 12 months for the Roscommon club both on and off the field. 2018 saw the club claim both the Curley Cup and Cawley Cup, so a Junior Cup victory on Sunday would complete a unique treble of the cup trophies. Coupled with the opening of their new 3G pitch, and the success of CBS Roscommon reaching the Top Oil Connacht Schools Senior Cup final, it’s been a very important and impressive period for the region.
 
In a first for Junior Cup final day, minis players from both clubs will get the opportunity to experience what it’s like play at such an event. A mixture of U10s, U11 and U12s from Creggs and Connemara will take to the field at half-time, only adding to what should be a really enjoyable day.
 
Kick-off is at 3pm on Sunday, and it will be preceded by the Junior Plate final with Our Lady’s Boys Club RFC coming up against Sligo RFC from 1pm.
 

Women’s Rugby in Connacht is thriving like never before, and now Connacht Rugby is shining a light on all the great work that has been done in the past and is continuing to take place around the province to promote the female rugby stars of the future.
 
Every week you’ll get to read a bit about every club in Connacht that offers a Girls Rugby programme. You can find out about what they’ve done in the past, how many teams they have, what times they train and who are the people that bring Girls Rugby to life in the club.
 
This week we have Creggs RFC, with text and pics with thanks to Padraic Deane.
 

Girls rugby renaissance kicking off in Creggs
 
Back in the mid-1990’s Creggs Women’s rugby team blazed a trail of glory. It all started following a fun charity mixed rugby event in January 1993 and quickly went on to become a powerful force in national competitions for several years. By the mid 90’s, their hugely successful squad won several national competitions including the Blackrock Rugby Festival in 1993, All-Ireland League Champions in 1994 and All-Ireland Cup Winners in 1995.
 
Five Creggs players were capped by Ireland in 1994. They were: Fiona Devaney, Mary Grehan, Jacinta Hanley (Gibbons), Paula Keane, and Claire Wall. Indeed, there were many other great players in that era that wore the Creggs jersey, a number of which should possibly have also won caps at that time. All are great role models for young players of today.
 

When that truly great era passed, Women’s rugby went in to decline in Creggs and accept for a period from about a decade ago for a few years when under the tutelage of Larry Mannion and his management team, the Creggs underage girls teams started to once compete successfully in Connacht. In the 2015, Creggs RFC – Ballina RFC Combined Ladies Team won the 2014/’15 Connacht Under-18 Cup. Creggs players on that team were: Althya White (Captain), Olivia Hussey, Shauna Lavin, Ciara Corcoran, Aishling Edwards and Karina Rodregas.
 
Now, after a short void, there’s good vibes coming from the village club that Creggs is sowing the seeds to once again be a force in Girls and Women’s rugby in a few years time.
 
While the club’s mini structure facilitates girls up to Under-12, Creggs RFC is now putting a new girls underage structure in place. Part of Creggs development plan 2018/19 was to increase inclusivity and the goal set was to field at Under-14 girls team in both the Connacht League and Cup.
 
As a good starting point, it was decided that having an Under-14 team was quite possible following on from the success of the Aviva Mini blitz last year when Creggs were selected to take part in this major event in the Aviva Stadium. Creggs brought 17 Under-12 Girls to Dublin and they thoroughly enjoyed the day out. This was to be the foundation needed to start the process of trying to field at Under-14 level.
 

Next on the agenda was getting a quality and committed coaching team in place. A huge thanks to Micheal Glennon and Dave Purcell who committed themselves to this task and to Siobhan Purcell who is doing a fantastic job as the Under-14 and Under-16 team manager!
 
Micheal Glennon as CRDO with Connacht Rugby was tasked with the project of going to Secondary schools in the area to promote the game to girls, and this has already proved a huge success.
 
As training began it became evident with the numbers turning up, that we would have no problem fielding at Under-14’s and also a number of players were now turning up at older ages to take up the sport.
 
Consequently, a decision was made to get an Under-16 team together by Connacht Cup time and the coaching team were joined by former Creggs ladies player Geraldine O’Brien to help at this level.
 

While many of our girls play other sports, we also have a few that play rugby only. While an increasing number of girls tend to stop playing sport at the start of secondary school, it is great to see so many girls taking up rugby in Creggs and enjoying the game.
 
Currently at training we have 21 Under-14 players and 15 at Under-16 and also 5 committed Under-17 players who continue to train although Creggs do not have a large enough squad yet to field at this age group.
With the taste of success at club level, most of the Creggs girls are now playing schools rugby and the Convent of Mercy in Roscommon recently fielded in both the Junior and Senior League competition. The girls train together and training is every Monday night at 7.30pm. They have been very dedicated, even turning up recently in blizzard type conditions. They love playing on the new 4G artificial pitch.
 
While the aim is to introduce the girls to rugby and to teach them the basics of the game, it is also about making new friends and developing skills such as teamwork in a fun environment. There is certainly a lot of shrieks and laughter to be heard around Creggs on a Monday evening.
 

Creggs Under-14’s entered the league and played games against Claremorris, Ballina, Sligo and Galwegians and recently won their first round of the Cup competition defeating Galwegians, followed by a Semi-Final win over Ballina in Creggs.
 
Creggs Under-16’s fielded against a strong Ballina RFC side in the first round of the Connacht Under-16 Cup and put in a great performance going down 36-17. They have subsequently won their first round Connacht Under-16 Plate v Galwegians RFC with a scoreline of 17-10 on the new 4G pitch in Creggs.
 
Creggs Under-14 girls have been selected to play at half time in the upcoming Ireland V France women’s International at Energia Park Donnybrook on March 9th and that promises to be another enjoyable day out for the girls.
Finally, Creggs has recently included new dressing rooms for girls and women only, complete with cubicle shower-rooms in their updated 2020- ’21 development plan. Girls rugby is getting the full backing of the Creggs RFC with resources, coaching teams and developing the game in schools.
 

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