||Last Updated: 2, Apr 2018 - 10:02
Connacht Junior League Div 1|
Gort ---- 6
Castlebar ---- 21
Castlebar have maintained their unbeaten record in Division 1 of the Connaught Junior League as it breaks for the Christmas period. The table toppers travelled to Gort on Sunday last in search for their fifth successive league victory. In what is shaping up to be a very successful season for the Castlebar club, the depth of talent was again underlined by the clubs ability to field two senior teams on Sunday, this despite a number of injured players. What made the weekend even more memorable was the convincing victories each team secured.
The match in Gort got underway with the Castlebar line up slightly changed from that of the week before, out half Jason Keane, out through injury was replaced by Diarmuid Byrne with Marty McNicholas stepping into the centre position in place of Byrne. Eoin Shaughnessy returned to the full-back berth in place of Robbie Cusack who suffered knee damage in the previous weeks encounter against Corinthians. The backbone of this successful Castlebar side remained unchanged and the powerful pack of Connor O’Malley, Nathan Cole, Brendan Kelly, Paul Heverin and Ruairi Hughes quickly enforced their superiority over their Gort counterparts. Also encouraging was the Castlebar lineout which was greatly improved from previous weeks. Outhalf Diarmuid Byrne opened Castlebar’s scoring after three minutes with a penalty to give the visitors an early 3-0 lead. Byrne increased his side’s lead 20 minutes later following some impressive work by the Castlebar forward’s which saw them hit up the pitch through three phases of play before releasing the ball out to the outhalf 15 yards from the Gort line, Byrne worked well to beat 3 would-be tacklers before touching down over the line to bring the score to 8-0. Gort opened their account minutes later to bring the scoreline to 8-3. For the second week in succession Castlebar were reduced to 14 men when prop forward Connor O’Malley was sinbinned for continuous offside infringements. Just before half time Byrne added another penalty to his sides tally giving Castlebar a 11-3 lead at half-time.
Once again the back row of Rob Langan, John Scott and Gordon McGuinness made an immense contribution all around the park linking well with both forwards and backs to produce some very exciting rugby. The back line as always was solid in defence, wingers Paul Coady and Mick Power working well with full back Shaughnessy to launch stinging counter attacks and put in some crunching tackles.
The second half saw the introduction of Mick Heneghan to tight head prop in place Brendan Kelly, while Ciaran Berry replaced Mick Power on the wing. Gort where first to score in the second half with a converted penalty giving them an additional 3 points bringing their tally to 6. Heneghan was quick to make his mark on the encounter with marauding runs up the park making good ground for his side. It was the Castlebar forwards again who manufactured the second try of the game. A penalty taken up by Heneghan first, then hooker Nathan Cole and then by Connor O’Malley before forming a maul just short of the Gort line. Scrum half Christy Cusack selling a classic dummy before jinking inside the defence to cross the line to give the visitors a 19-6 lead. Byrne converted to bring the final score to 21-6.
Castlebar’s next outing in Division One is on the 6th January when they travel to Buccaneers looking to build on their success of recent weeks. With support for the Castlebar team steadily growing a large crowd is expected to travel for what is sure to be one of the most entertaining encounters the league will produce this season. Before then the annual St. Stephen’s Day match will take place at the clubhouse with the Captains XV taking on the Presidents XV in what is always a close contest.
Castlebar: C. O’Malley, N. Cole, B. Kelly, R. Hughes, P. Heverin, R. Langan, J. Scott, G. McGuinness, C. Cusack, D. Byrne, M. Power, J. Keane, M. McNicholas, P. Coady, E. Shaughnessy. Subs: M. Heneghan (Kelly) C. Berry (Power) G. Barry.
Corinthians ---- 11
Castlebar secured their fourth consecutive win last Sunday Week over Galway side Corinthians. This Connaught Junior League Division 1 tie, which was played in Galway, got underway under the cover of a thick fog which cleared shortly after kick off. With both sides on the back of a recent winning streak it was sure to be a tight encounter. Corinthians started attacking right from the kick off and quickly entered the Castlebar 22. Under sustained pressure, Castlebar conceded a penalty under which Corinthians converted to give them an early 3-0 lead. However Castlebar where quick to reply with wing forward John Scott gathering the ball as it popped out of a scrum on the Corinthians 22, and then eluding at least 4 potential tackles to score just left of the posts. Centre Diarmuid Byrne converted to give the visitors a 7-3 lead over their hosts. In what was a very tough contest physically, both sides tackled with immense commitment. While the Galway side gained the upper hand in the lineout, it was Castlebar who once again dominated in the scrums, tribute to the hard work of Conor O’Malley, Nathan Cole, and Brendan Kelly in the first half and later Mick Heneghan, Paul Heverin and Rory Hughes. The back row of Rob Langan, John Scott and Gordon McGuinness contributed greatly throughout the game making countless tackles. Castlebar were to increase their lead further with another penalty from the boot of Byrne. This hard hitting encounter took its toll on the Castlebar side with out-half and captain Jason Keane having to leave the pitch ten minutes from the end of the first half. The Mayo side where to suffer another blow by the sin binning of No. 8 McGuinness. With 14 men Castlebar came under heavy pressure in their own 22, cumulating in a Corinthians lineout 8 metres from the try line, from which Corinthians drove over to score their only try of the match. Half time saw the scoreline at 10-8 and Castlebar still with only 14 men.
The second half saw the Castlebar back line continue their excellent defensive record with hard tackles from Byrne, Mick Power, Paul Coady, Marty McNicholas and Robert Cusack. Shortly after the restart Castlebar were back to their full complement of players with McGuinness returning to play. However, shortly afterwards, another Castlebar forward was sent to the line for 10 minutes. Hooker Nathan Cole was sin-binned for seemingly entering a ruck from an off side position. The punishing physical contest continued right up to the final whistle with both sides putting all they had into the tackles. Large periods of play saw Castlebar deep in the Corinthians half from which they yielded a further 6 points, all from the boot of Byrne. Corinthians in return could only manage 3 points from the second half to bring the score to 11-16 in Castlebar’s favour after full time and substantial injury time.
Castlebar: C. O’Malley, N. Cole, B. Kelly, P. Heverin, R. Hughes, R. Langan, J. Scott, G. McGuinness, C. Cusack, J. Keane, P. Coady, D. Byrne, A.K. Njuru, M. Power, R. Cusack.
Subs: M. McNicholas (Keane) M. Heneghan (Kelly) S. Devaney, D. Glacken, J. Foy, S. O’Malley, C. Berry, P. Durcan.
Connacht Junior League Division 2
With the First XV away in Gort Castlebar RFC Second XV travelled to Creggs for their tie in Division Two of the Connaught Junior League. The strength of the side which travelled to Creggs was a clear indication of the healthy state the Castlebar club is currently in. With Creggs also fielding a First XV in Division 1 against Corinthians the second XV was barely formed to fulfil the fixture.
The encounter was played out on the Monastery pitch and Castlebar were quick to take control with the forwards roaring down the pitch from the kick-off to retain possession which was continuously recycled quickly, as was the case throughout the whole game. The Castlebar pack of Paddy Durcan, John Foy, David, Kieran Horkan, Damien Glacken, Farnan Harte, Robbie Scott and captain Seamus Devanney worked well together to dominate the play in the first half.
The might of the Castlebar attack from the kick off was rewarded within minutes with hooker John Foy crossing the line for the first try of the match. Full back Paul Jennings converted to give Castlebar a 8-0 lead. Jennings added another 3 points minutes later when he convert a penalty from just outside the Creggs 22 yard line. Next on the scoreboard was centre David Gordon who together with fellow centre Richie Feeney had an outstanding game in their first outing in senior rugby. Farnan Harte was next to cross the line shortly followed by Richie Feeney and then winger James Armstrong touched down to bring the total tally of tries to 5 with three conversions and a penalty.
Out half Steve O’Grady worked well with scrum half Simon O’Malley to distribute the ball cleanly along the backline, while winger Ray McDonnell worked very well to put in some hard tackles as well as impressive counter attacks. Replacement George O’Malley also worked hard upon his introduction to the backline early in the second half. Despite excellent defending throughout the game, Creggs did manage to cross the Castlebar line midway through the second half their only consolation try.
The 2nd XV’s next league outing is on the 6th of January when they travel to Corinthians in Galway for a 2.30p.m kick off.
Castlebar: P. Durcan, J. Foy, David, K. Horkan, D. Glacken, F. Harte, R. Scott, S. Devanney, S. O’Malley, S. O’Grady, R. McDonald, D. Gordon, R. Feeney, J. Armstrong, P. Jennings. Subs: G. O’Malley.
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