IT was a bad weekend for all but one two of the local rugby sides last weekend.
Tralee, Killarney and Killorglin all came out on the wrong side of their respective ties with the former coming up short at home against Clonmel, Killarney going down in the battle of the Kingdom teams in the J2 while Killorglin suffered a surprise loss in the top game of the J3 at home to Abbeyfeale.
Tralee took to their home pitch last Sunday buoyed by the knowledge that a win – with a bonus point – in their mid table battle with Clonmel would likely earn them a top four finish and a place in next year's All Ireland Junior Cup competition. Tralee have been one of the most impressive improvers this year and have found themselves steeped in the battle for fourth spot since the opening day of this season.
Tralee's afternoon started badly and they found themselves trailing 13-8 at the turn after tries from Conor Cooney and Morgan Lyons were followed by a Cooney penalty. Dan Clarke responded for the home team with a well worked try and a successful penalty attempt. Another brace of tries from the visitors rocked Tralee in the second half, this time it was Mark Jenkinson and Greg Carroll that did the damage with Cooney again finding his range converting one and adding another penalty.
Tralee deserve great credit for the way they kept going and they hit back with another try from Clark and an Eoin Murphy touchdown. Clark added the extra points for both but it was never going to be enough as Tralee found themselves in the unenviable spot of fifth in the table.
Although Kerry's top junior rugby side failed in their bid for the All Ireland Cup, they should take great heart from their season. All sides can really ask for is improvement from year to year and there is no doubt that this side's star is on the rise.
Division two saw the battle of the Kerry sides with both Castleisland and Killarney's still in the mix for promotion to the J1. The stakes in this one couldn't be higher with the winner retaining a viable challenge for promotion while the loser's hopes for elevation to the top flight would have to wait another year at least.
Castleisland held all the aces going into this one, they were ahead in the table, they were at home and most of all they have been the more consistant side over the course of the championship. Killarney for their part have shown all season that they are a side to be taken seriously and they are capable of beating anybody on their day. Unfortunately for the visitors this was not to be their day as Castleisland produced some of their best rugby of the season and took the spoils by 21-16.
TJ Casey, Shane O'Connell and Daniel Casey inflicted the main damage as the trio touched down for what could be season defining five pointers with Connie Reynolds adding what proved to be two crucial conversions. This win for Castleisland means that they now find themselves in a winner takes all clash with Muskerry on the final day.
Muskerry have led this division since day one and are the only side in Munster junior rugby to be unbeaten in league action this season. Having said that, Mallow are now top so it looks like they will need to go the season unbeaten if they are to go up. There is still a chance that both Castleisland and Muskerry could go up but requires both sides getting four tries and Muskerry losing by less than seven.
Permutations aside, this game promises to be one of the great occasions in the J2 this season.
The J3 saw the shock of the weekend as title chasing Killorglin found themselves on the wrong end of a 19-11 score-line. Abbeyfeale took the spoils in this one and in so doing they managed to keep their slim chance of promotion still alive.
Robert Browne scored a try for the winners with Dave Collins kicking a drop goal and Thomas Enright adding a conversion and three penalties. Chris O'Sullivan hit back with a try for Killorglin and Luke O'Shea added two penalties.
This result means that Killorglin now need to go and win their final game of the season away to Ballincollig or they could see themselves passed out by both Fermoy and Waterford City.
It will be tense day for the Kerry side but they will be hopeful that it will be a day they can come through.
Sunday March 10
Tralee v Bruff 2pm
Carrick-on-Suir v Killorglin TBC