The Connacht Juniors management team have named their matchday 23 for tomorrow’s final Junior Interprovincial Series game against Munster at Creggs RFC (k/o 2.30pm).
 
There’s one change to the starting XV that enjoyed a superb win away to Leinster last time out, with Owen Treacy (Buccaneers RFC) coming into the squad in the back row in place of James Brandon who is unavailable.
 
Two further switches have taken place among the replacements, where Treacy’s clubmate Sean O’Connell and Andrew Callaghan of Creggs RFC are drafted into the 23.
 
The Interprovincial Series is set for an exciting climax with all four provinces winning one and losing one of their two games so far. The new facilities at Creggs RFC will provide a fitting location to the game so we’d encourage all rugby fans around the area to come along and support the squad.
 
CONNACHT JUNIORS STARTING XV & REPLACEMENTS VS MUNSTER JUNIORS – SATURDAY 11TH MAY 2019 @ CREGGS RFC (K/O 2.30PM)
 
15. Henry O’Toole (Connemara RFC)
14. Marty Conneely (Connemara RFC)
13. Sean Mullin (Sligo RFC)
12. David McDonagh (Connemara RFC) (C)
11. Conor Carter (Castelbar RFC)
10. Shane Dowd (Creggs RFC)
9. Michael O’Toole (Connemara RFC)
1. Aidan Leech (Creggs RFC)
2. Barry Gibbons (Connemara RFC)
3. Ian Staunton (Connemara RFC)
4. Niall Staunton (Connemara RFC)
5. Gerard Ward (Monivea RFC)
6. Brian Diffley (Creggs RFC)
7. Owen Treacy (Buccaneers RFC)
8. TJ Berry (Connemara RFC)

16. Maurice Buckley (Creggs RFC)
17. Sean O’Connell (Buccaneers RFC)
18. Conor Mitchell (Sligo RFC)
19. Brian Donohue (Creggs RFC)
20. Alan Finnerty (Tuam RFC)
21. Andrew Callaghan (Creggs RFC)
22. Craig McCormick (Ballina RFC)
23. Robert Enraght-Moony (Buccaneers RFC)

The Connacht Juniors management team have made two changes to their starting XV for Saturday’s Junior Interprovincial Series match with Leinster Juniors at Wicklow RFC (2.30pm).
 
The first of those changes is in the front row where Ian Staunton of Connemara RFC is drafted in alongside club mate Barry Gibbons and Aidan Leech of Creggs RFC.
 
The second change is at outside centre as Sean Mullin comes into the squad, where he’ll partner David McDonagh who again captains the side.
 
In total 8 of the starting 15 hail for the J1A League champions Connemara, with a further 4 from Creggs and 1 each from Monivea, Castlebar and Sligo.
 
CONNACHT JUNIORS STARTING XV & REPLACEMENTS VS LEINSTER JUNIORS – SATURDAY 4TH MAY 2019 @ WICKLOW RFC (K/O 2.30PM)

15. Henry O’Toole (Connemara RFC)
14. Marty Conneely (Connemara RFC)
13. Sean Mullin (Sligo)
12. David McDonagh (Connemara RFC) (C)
11. Conor Carter (Castelbar RFC)
10. Shane Dowd (Creggs RFC)
9. Michael O’Toole (Connemara RFC)
1. Aidan Leech (Creggs RFC)
2. Barry Gibbons (Connemara RFC)
3. Ian Staunton (Connemara RFC)
4. Niall Staunton (Connemara RFC)
5. Gerard Ward (Monivea RFC)
6. Brian Diffley (Creggs RFC)
7. James Brandon (Creggs RFC)
8. TJ Berry (Connemara RFC)

16. Maurice Buckley (Creggs RFC)
17. Rory Grenham (Buccaneers RFC)
18. Conor Mitchell (Sligo RFC)
19. Brian Donohue (Creggs RFC)
20. Alan Finnerty (Tuam RFC)
21. Joe Keane (Portumna RFC)
22. Craig McCormick (Ballina RFC)
23. Robert Enraght-Moony (Buccaneers RFC)
 

CONNACHT JUNIORS 20-36 ULSTER JUNIORS

By John O’Sullivan

The Connacht Junior Interprovincial side began their All Ireland Junior Interprovincial series with a 36-20, five tries to three, defeat to Ulster on Saturday in Castlebar.

Six Connacht clubs were represented in the starting line-up, as coached by Michael Harding, Buccaneers, Henry O’Toole, Connemara, and Pat Cunnigham, Creggs. The spread of talent among the coaching and playing personnel is reflective of the capabilities of those within the grass roots section of Connacht Rugby.

Unsurprisingly, League and Cup double winners Connemara provided the bulk of the starting team with seven starters. Runners up in both competitions, Creggs, provided four members of the line up; while Ballina, Sligo, Castlebar and Monivea contributed a player each.
With the remnants of Storm Hannah buffeting around the Castlebar pitch, ball handling skills were put under severe pressure. Visibly, the Ulster team were physically bigger than their Connacht counterparts and the elements suited their rudimental style of play better. Running in five tries to Connacht’s three, Ulster were value for their victory but the margin of the win was perhaps flattering to the Northern men.
Ulster lead 19-15 at half time, but Connacht – through a try from Creggs Brian Donoghue – took a 20-19 lead midway through the second period. However, a yellow card for Connemara’s Niall Staunton for a high tackle swung the game. With a man advantage, Ulster – with winger Tom Caesar to the fore – scored 17 unanswered points in the second period to take the victory.
People familiar with both Connemara and Creggs last season would know that their styles of play were both skill and handling oriented and logically, given that both clubs provided most of the starting line-up, Connacht would look to play with a similar intent.
Connacht electing to run the ball yielded a try with the game just over five minutes old. Connemara’s Henry O’Toole was the benefactor of a move containing his club team mates, Barry Gibbons and Marty Conneely, and touched down in the corner. The conversion was just wide, but Connacht’s opening salvo was a stylistic signal of intent for the rest of the game.
Ulster scrum half Lee Steenson, of Dromore RFC, was a thorn in Connacht’s side all afternoon, with his quick tap penalties a particular irritant for the hosts defence. It was from a quickly taken Steenson penalty that Ulster opened their try scoring account. After a few phases, hooker Matthew Coulter, of Ballyclare RFC, burrowed over from close range.
The scoring nature of the game was becoming tit for tat and Connacht soon retook the lead with a penalty through Ballina’s Craig McCormack before Ulster’s rapid winger Caesar crossed for his first try in what was proving to be enthralling opening to the game. Both sides would register further first half tries – Ulster through Connor McKee and Connacht through Niall Staunton after a powerful rolling maul – to leave the half time score at 19-15 to the visitors.
Connacht scored the last try of the half, with McCormack expertly converting from a difficult angle, and they carried this momentum into the second half. Aggressive and quick defensive line speed from Connacht resulted in Ulster spilling the ball in their own 22. Creggs second row Donoghue opportunistically picked up the fumbled ball and ran in for a try to give Connacht a solitary point lead at 20-19.
However, Donoghue’s effort would be Connacht’s last score of the afternoon. The scrum battle was an even affair in the first half, but Ulster gained ascendancy there in the second period and it provided them a platform – as well as Connacht’s yellow card – to put Connacht under pressure.
Caesar would cross for two more tries, which added to a long range penalty from full back Paul Armstrong of Clogher Valley RFC – who kicked four of Ulster’s five conversions – secured a bonus point victory for the Richard Boyd coached visitors.
Connacht’s coaching ticket and players alike will have plenty of positives to take going into the final round of games. Some of Connacht’s ball handling and intricate moves should stand them in good stead for the rest of the competition.
Connacht travel away to Leinster, at Wicklow R.F.C, next Saturday before hosting Munster at The Green, Creggs R.F.C, on Saturday May 11th.

Connacht: H. O’Toole (Connemara); M. Conneely (Connemara), C.McCormack (Ballina), D.McDonagh (Connemara)©, C. Carter (Castlebar); S. Dowd (Creggs), M.O’Toole (Connemara); TJ. Berry (Connemara), J. Brandon (Creggs), B. Diffley (Creggs); N. Staunton (Connemara), G. Ward (Monivea); C. Mitchell (Sligo), B. Gibbons (Connemara), A. Leech (Creggs)

Replacements: I. Staunton for C. Mitchell (17 mins), B. Donoghue for G. Ward (45 mins), R. Grenham for A. Leech (43 mins)
Ulster: P. Armstrong (Clogher Valley); O. Kirk (Ballyclare), J. McBride (Ballyclare), R. Reid (Ballyclare), T. Caesar (Portadown); D. Lytle (Dromore), L. Steenson (Dromore); C.McKee ( Grosvenor), J. Taylor (Portadown) , C. Tipping (CIYMS) ©; T. Woods (Ballymoney), R. Bingham (Dromore); G. Beattie (Enniskillen), M. Coulter (Ballyclare), G. Warrington (Enniskillen)
Referee: Eoghan Cross.

Connemara RFC’s David McDonagh will captain the Connacht Juniors when they take on Ulster this Saturday in the opening game of the Junior Interprovincial Championship in Castlebar (k/o 2.30pm).
 
McDonagh is one of 7 players in the starting 15 from Connemara, who sealed a J1A League and Junior Cup double last month. In the backs he is joined by clubmate scrum-half Michael O’Toole, winger Marty Conneelly and full-back Henry O’Toole, while in the forwards Barry Gibbons, Niall Staunton and TJ Berry are selected in the first, second and back row respectively.
 
Gibbons is at hooker where he’ll be joined by props Aidan Leech (Creggs RFC) and Conor Mitchell (Sligo RFC), while Gerard Ward (Monivea RFC) will partner Staunton in the front row. Two more Creggs players complete the back row, where flankers Brian Diffley and James Brandon play alongside number 8 TJ Berry.
 
The fourth Creggs player included in the starting 15 is Shane Dowd who is named at out-half, while Craig McCormick of Ballina RFC starts at outside centre. The team is completed by Castlebar RFC’s Conor Carter who will line out in his home ground on the wing.
 
The front row replacements are made up of Rory Grenham (Buccaneers RFC), Michael McColgan (NUIG RFC) and Ian Staunton (Connemara RFC). Completing the bench are two more Buccaneers players, Owen Treacy and Robert Enraght-Moony, alongside Creggs duo Brian Donohue and Andrew Callaghan, and Sligo RFC’s Sean Mullin.
 
Kick-off at Castlebar RFC is at 2.30pm this Saturday.
 
CONNACHT JUNIORS STARTING XV & REPLACEMENTS VS ULSTER JUNIORS – SATURDAY 27TH APRIL 2019 @ CASTLEBAR RFC (K/O 2.30PM)
 
15. Henry O’Toole (Connemara RFC)
14. Marty Conneely (Connemara RFC)
13. Craig McCormick (Ballina RFC)
12. David McDonagh (Connemara RFC) (C)
11. Conor Carter (Castelbar RFC)
10. Shane Dowd (Creggs RFC)
9. Michael O’Toole (Connemara RFC)
1. Aidan Leech (Creggs RFC)
2. Barry Gibbons (Connemara RFC)
3. Conor Mitchell (Sligo RFC)
4. Niall Staunton (Connemara RFC)
5. Gerard Ward (Monivea RFC)
6. Brian Diffley (Creggs RFC)
7. James Brandon (Creggs RFC)
8. TJ Berry (Connemara RFC)

16. Rory Grenham (Buccaneers RFC)
17. Michael McColgan (NUIG RFC)
18. Ian Staunton (Connemara RFC)
19. Brian Donohue (Creggs RFC)
20. Owen Treacy (Buccaneers RFC)
21. Andrew Callaghan (Creggs RFC)
22. Robert Enraght-Moony (Buccaneers RFC)
23. Sean Mullin (Sligo RFC)
 

The Connacht Juniors management team have named a 33-man squad for the 2019 Junior Interprovincial Championships which begins this weekend.
 
Head coach Michael Harding has picked players from 10 clubs across Connacht, with J1A League and Junior Cup winners Connemara the most represented with 9 players in the squad. Creggs, who finished as runners-up in both competitions, have 7 players included, while Buccaneers, Sligo, Ballina and NUIG also have multiple inclusions.
 
The Junior Interpros begin this Saturday 27th April when Connacht host Ulster in Castlebar RFC. That will be followed by a trip to Wicklow to face Leinster on Saturday 4th May before a second home against Munster on Saturday 11th May, this time in Creggs RFC.
 
Ahead of the series, Michael Harding has praised his squad for their effort and commitment since training began last month.
 
“Training has been going really well and we’re all looking forward to the next few weeks. We’ve got some really talented players in our squad and they have responded well to taking on a lot of info in a short space of time. We know we have a tough game ahead of us but we’re confident we can perform to the best of our abilities”.
 
“The buy-in from the players ahead of these games has been incredible. We have had players changing holidays and regularly travelling long distances to attend training which says a lot about their willingness to represent their province”.

 
CONNACHT RUGBY JUNIORS 2019
 
Forwards (18)
TJ Berry – Connemara RFC
Maurice Buckley – Creggs RFC
James Brandon – Creggs RFC
Eugene Conroy – Connemara RFC
Brian Diffley – Creggs RFC
Brian Donoghue – Creggs RFC
Alan Finnerty – Tuam RFC
Barry Gibbons – Connemara RFC
Rory Grenham – Buccaneers RFC
Aidan Leech – Creggs RFC
Michael McColgen – NUIG RFC
Conor Mitchell – Sligo RFC
Sean O’Connell – Buccaneers RFC
Conor O’Malley – Connemara RFC
David Robb – NUIG RFC
Niall Staunton – Connemara RFC
Owen Treacy – Buccaneers RFC
Ger Ward – Monivea RFC

Backs (15)
Andrew Callaghan – Creggs RFC
Conor Carter – Castlebar RFC
Marty Conneely – Connemara RFC
Kevin Connell – Sligo RFC
Shane Dowd – Creggs RFC
Robert Enraght-Moony – Buccaneers
Callumn Forde – Buccaneers RFC
David McDonagh – Connemara RFC
Craig McCormack – Ballina RFC
Ronan Molloy – Ballina RFC
Sean Mullin – Sligo RFC
Eoghan O’Toole – Buccaneers RFC
Henry O’Toole – Connemara RFC
Michael O’Toole – Connemara RFC
Joe Keane – Portumna RFC
 
9 – Connemara
7 – Creggs
6 – Buccaneers
3 – Sligo
2 – Ballina, NUIG
1 – Castlebar, Monivea, Portumna, Tuam
 
2019 JUNIOR INTERPROVINCIAL CHAMPIONSHIP FIXTURES
 
Saturday 27th April
Connacht Juniors v Ulster Juniors @ Castlebar RFC
Munster Juniors v Leinster Juniors @Skibbereen RFC
 
Saturday 4th May
Leinster Juniors v Connacht Juniors @ Wicklow RFC
Ulster Juniors v Munster Juniors @ Ballyclare RFC
 
Saturday 11th May
Connacht Juniors v Munster Juniors @ Creggs RFC
Leinster Juniors v Ulster Juniors @ Dundalk RFC
 

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