Kacper Palamarczuk’s rugby journey started with Westport rugby minis when he was just six years old.

The next stage of this journey will see him step out at the Arcul de Triumph in Bucharest on February 4th with hopes of helping his native Poland gain victory over Romania.

And when his playing career ends many years from now, Kacper hopes it includes an appearance at The Rugby World Cup with his native Poland. This ambition is paired with the goal of winning this year’s Bank of Ireland Connacht Junior Cup with Westport.

“My aim with Westport is to win the Cup this season. It would be great to bring it back home, while my main goal for Poland is to one day make it to the World Cup. It is very possible, especially with all the young talent and amazing coaching we have on board,” he said.

Those aims are certainly within reach for the 20-year-old, with Westport into the last four of this year’s Connacht Junior Cup, while Poland is an international side on the up after gaining promotion to this year’s Rugby Europe Championship.

It was in that promotion push where Kacper made his senior international debut, starting a crucial game against Lithuania last April when a positive result was needed.

Discussing the experience, he said: “It’s a really exciting experience to represent your country. Going into my first camp for Poland was a similar experience to going into the underage camp with Ireland. I knew it was going to be a high level and I needed to be ready for it.

“We needed to win with a bonus point in order to get promoted to the European Championships for the following season. It was a brilliant experience and we successfully got the bonus point win we need to make history for Poland”.

The talented backrow forward has previously impressed for Ireland U18 and as a member of underage Connacht teams. He was also a mainstay in Sligo Grammar’s backrow as they battled in the Connacht Schools Senior Cup.

It was with a Westport underage side when he first got notice that Poland was interested in acquiring his services.

“There was a tournament called the Rugby Amber Cup that I attended with Westport RFC in Poland. We ended up winning it and I got the Player of the Tournament Award. Shortly after that I got approached about the call-up. At the time I was still involved with Connacht, so I figured it wasn’t the right time,” he added.

However, since making the choice to join the international set-up, Kacper hasn’t looked back.

In fact, it appears Westport RFC has embraced the twenty-year-old lining out for his international side, with a surge in demand for Poland flags in the Mayo town in advance of Poland’s next competitive fixture in February.

“Everyone at Westport RFC is happy for me and they are being really supportive, with a few of my teammates even travelling to the Rugby European Championship against Romania,” he added.

The semi-final line-up for The Bank of Ireland Connacht Junior Cup is complete, with Ballinrobe, Creggs, Tuam and Westport all battling it out to be this year’s champion.

Ballinrobe made it into their third Junior Cup semi-final in a row, defeating a Galwegians 2nd XV who held a 19-6 lead early in the second half. However, the Mayo team didn’t give up and fought hard to eventually claim the 19-21 win in Crowley Park.

They face Creggs in the semis after they defeated Connemara in an intriguing quarter-final clash. Eoghan Coyle and Ronan Dowd were their try scorers on the day, sending their side into the last four under the lights on their home pitch.

Meanwhile, Tuam had a hard-fought victory over Dunmore, eventually coming out 6-0 victors. That was thanks to two first-half penalties from Carl Ward and a resolute defence which didn’t give anything up. They face a Westport side that got the better of University of Galway, scoring two tries to their counterparts single try in a 15-10 win.

Both semi-finals will take place the weekend of March 4/5.

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.

The Bank of Ireland Cawley Cup returned this weekend, signifying the start of a new season for some of Connacht’s club sides.

Pool A

Pool A saw Buccaneers 2nd XV travel to nearby Creggs, while Castlebar hosted Dunmore.

Buccaneers 2nds looked too strong for their near neighbours, racing into a 16-0 lead at the break. Creggs did manage to get a try on the board, but it was too little, too late, as the visitors travelled back to Athlone with a 21 points to spare.

The other game saw Castlebar prove their worth against Dunmore. The first half was a tentative affair, with the Mayo side going into the break just a point up at 6-5.

After both sides scored two tries, kicking proved the difference as Castlebar ran out 20-12 victors.

Pool B

On a fantastic day for rugby, Connemara welcomed Westport to Clifden for their first game of the season on Sunday. Both sides showed excellent attacking talent throughout, with the Connemara All Blacks eventually coming out on top of a 29-15 scoreline.

Group B’s other game was a Galway derby, as Monivea hosted Tuam.

Here the away side proved to be dominant throughout, scoring eight tries on their way to a 5-48 win. In what was one of the performances of the weekend, Ian Murphy touched down for a hat trick of tries for the visitors.

Loughrea RFC hosted the latest end of season blitz at their headquarters last Sunday. 11 teams from 6 clubs met for an afternoon of U16, 7-aside action where the emphasis was on sportsmanship and enjoyment rather than challenging for honours.

 

One of the organisers, Connacht Rugby’s Galway Development Officer Craig Hansberry, said:

“It’s a fantastic day out for these young athletes, these participation blitzes are a great way for players to get one last run out before the end of the season. Most of these players aren’t involved in playoffs, or have already been knocked out of cups so to be still playing rugby at the end of April is a bonus.”

 

Teams from Westport RFC, Claremorris Colts RFC, Galwegians RFC, Sligo RFC, Ballinasloe RFC and hosts Loughrea RFC played 10-minute matches over two pitches in glorious sunshine at the Ballygasty venue and fine weather, coupled with the lack of pressure of silverware meant for some scintillating action.

 

Hansberry added:

“From a developmental perspective is brilliant to see these players trying new things, chip kicks, off-loads, skip passes, these are the slightly riskier plays that may not be encouraged during the competitive season, so to see these players enjoying themselves, taking chances, developing new skills, that’s what these blitzes are all about.”

 

Games started with a round of rock-paper-scissors to determine who kicked off, an event that drew some of the biggest cheers of the day, and that the tone for an afternoon of silky skills, good humour and plenty of comradery as the Youths rugby season draws to a close.

 

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 Westport RFC, with text and pics with thanks to Liz Brady.

Westport is the home of some of the earliest female rugby in the Province. Young players who came into the minis set up looked for and inspired the Youths set up that is the foundation of today’s U14, U16, U18 and Women’s teams that have hit the pitch over this past season.

Girls’ Youths built up slowly as players came through the ranks and wanted to put a bit of shape on things and make their mark in Connacht and further afield. From the early days, the Girls’ section has grown and gone from strength to strength, not only on the pitch, but in the lifeblood of the Club.

A dedicated group of coaches, managers, parents, club members, and most importantly, players, have taken the proverbial Bull by the horns and made Westport RFC their second home!

Players have come from a vast geographical spread from Connemara, Ballinrobe, Louisburgh, Newport, Achill, Castlebar and Westport. Indeed, our newly established Women’s team is drawing players from Spain, Italy and even Clare. Athletes have transferred their skills to and from a multitude of sporting backgrounds including Gaelic football, Camogie, Swimming, Athletics, Sailing, Handball and basketball.

“Girls travelling from Achill Island, Leenane and Inisbofin weekly, it just shows a little bit of the love and dedication these girls have for one another and for the sport. Westport RFC is more of a family than a team, the girls put their bodies on the line week in week out and they do it all with pride. If it’s plaiting eachothers hair, scoring tries or even just belting out some pregame tunes, these girls do it with such enthusiasm and a true reflection on girls’ rugby. We’ve made memories that will last forever and most importantly we’ve made lifelong friendships.” (Aisling & Nina -u18s)

“At 14 in second year in school I saw a sign to try rugby in school and decided to go down on Tuesday evening, in the rain and wind and loved the physicality of the sport, at the start we didn’t have many teams near us but the craic was 90 in the bus going all over the country, and nearly 10 years later we still re-tell the stories and howl with laughter. As we got older we gained more skills and became better rugby players and this year we finally have a senior team and we did the cup and league double, something our coach told us we could do if we believed in ourselves and the feelings at both finals whistles are something i can’t describe, unfortunately the result last Saturday didn’t go our way but the feeling of being on the pitch with some of your best mates and playing some unbelievable rugby is what dreams are made of, I honestly can’t put into words what it like to be part of this clubs and especially the senior women team, I have 27 people who I can call at any time of the day with a problem and they will help me sort.” (Becky – Senior)

While everyone enjoys success on the pitch, it’s the long- lasting friendships and sense of community in our rugby family that are the real measure of success. Heading off to Dublin for Irish International matches, camping in Achill, Club and personal celebrations have given us experiences and memories that are made richer by our commitment to our Club and each other.

Mixed Friendly with Connemara

At an Irish International @Donnybrook

U16s

U18s

U14s joined up with Corinthians this past season

One of our players piping in the Women’s World Cup

Sumo Coaches entertaining the crowds at a Club celebration.

Westport’s Inaugural Women’s team.

Players and coaches from Connacht Rugby, in conjunction with Official Fuel Partner Top Oil, attended Rice College, Westport and Calasanctius College Oranmore recently to meet and inspire the next generation of rugby players and students within the school.
 
In Oranmore, Sean O’Brien made a welcome return to his alma mater Calasanticus College. He was joined by fellow senior professional players David Heffernan and Stephen Fitzgerald along with Club & Community Rugby Officer Morgan Codyre.
 
Coach Development Officer JP Walsh was joined by senior professional players David Horwitz and Tom McCartney on the pitch in Westport. Head Physiotherapist of Connacht Rugby Gareth Coughlan was also on hand to answer questions and provide expert insight on what it takes to prepare and maintain high level professional players.
 
The young students learned the importance of preparation and how a mix of hard work and commitment, rest and correct nutrition along with the ambition and belief to succeed can ensure high performance on and off the field.
 
Commenting on the initiative, Regional Manager for Top Oil Clíona Ní Murchú commented:
“As a family owned company with deep roots in our community we work hard to make a difference in the communities we serve. We are delighted that through our sponsorship of Connacht Rugby we can create special moments such as these to inspire the next generation. It was great to see so many boys participating in the training session and asking some really good questions during the Q&A.”
 
Connacht Rugby Sponsorship Manager Gavin Duffy commented:
“We have seen significant growth in participation across our school’s program over the last number of years. Top Oil are not only our Official Fuel Partner but also the sponsor of our Schools Cup competitions and their continued support over this period has been significant and greatly appreciated. Like Connacht Rugby, Top Oil are committed to making a positive impact across our communities and it is great to see this particular initiative of connecting todays professional players with the next generation of stars bringing our vision of Grassroots to Green Shirts alive.”
 

 

 

Westport RFC are the Connacht Women’s Cup winners for 2019 after the Mayo side powered their way to a 53-10 win over NUIG at yesterday’s final at The Sportsground.
 
Here are some of the best pics from the encounter.
 

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

More silverware is up for grabs on Sunday when 10 teams compete in 5 league finals across the province, ranging from the U15 Boys to the Women’s League.
 
First up at 12pm are the Division 2 finals at U15 and U17 level. Corrib will play host to the U15 Division 2 decider between near neighbours Monivea and Dunmore, while at the same time in Ballina there’s a meeting of Westport and Sligo in the U17 Division 2 final.
 
One hour later at 1pm to more deciders will kick-off in Ballinrobe and Ballyhaunis. Ballinrobe will play host to the Connacht Women’s League final as Westport take on NUIG, while Ballinasloe and Galwegians will face off in the U17 Division 1 final in Ballyhaunis.
 
The last of the deciders gets going at 1.30 in the U15 Division 1 final as Galwegians take on Buccaneers, with Ballinasloe acting as the venue.
 
Best of luck to all 8 clubs, and we’ll have the results for you on the Connacht Club & Community Facebook page on Sunday evening.

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