WITH almost half of the season completed it is fair to say that the winners of the 2012/2013 division 1 Munster junior league will come from one of the top six sides. As the league progresses the realistic challengers have been positioning themselves for their push for the title.
One of the sides in the hunt for this year's crown is Tralee. They have been progressing nicely over the past two months and came into last Sunday's fixtures with four wins and only one defeat. Last Sunday's game with Newcastle West always looked like it could be a season defining event for both sides and, true to form, it probably was. Both sides would have been confident going into the game having realistically already secured their status as a top flight team for next season.
Tralee all but ended Newcastle West's push for the top with a well deserved 1810 home win. The opening period was a hard fought dogged affair with the sides sharing a brace of penalties to go in at the turn 3-3. Second half tries from Dan O'Connor and Jamie Byrne did the damage for the home side with Dan Clark bagging a penalty and a conversion to add to his first half score. The win sees Tralee in a very strong mid season position as they move up into third place in the table with the luxury of a game in hand on most of the sides around them.
Next Sunday provides another strong challenge for the high flying Kerry boys as they make the trip to take on Waterpark. The home side may be struggling at the wrong end of the table but at home they provide a dangerous opponent for a Tralee side that could conceivably be top of the table come Sunday evening.
While things may be looking good for local rugby in division 1 they are looking sensational in division 2 as both Castleisland and Killarney are showing they are real contenders in the second league. Castleisland hammered Carrick-on-Suir (42-10) last Sunday and romped to the top of the table for the first time this season. Connie Reynolds bagged 18 points for the victors as he scored two tries and four conversions. Gary Downey also bagged a brace of tries for the home side with Kieran Downey, Mike O'Sullivan ( above) and Matthew Ahern each touching down to complete the rout.
The win not only sees Castleisland surge to the top spot in the league but it also marks them down as the team to beat this season.
If Castleisland are to win the league they will have to do it the hard way as they have to make the trip to Mallow next Sunday. The north Cork side have been firing on less than all cylinders recently and will be keen to put a halt to the Kerry side's bandwagon while getting their own title challenge back on track. While Castle were romping to the top of the table their neighbours Killarney were maintaining their challenge as they saw off the spirited challenge of Bandon by (17-9). Paudie Sheahan and Damian Carroll touched down for Killarney with Sheahan converting successfully on both occasions. The win sees Killarney elevated to the loft position of third and well within striking distance of the top two.
Next up for Killarney is a difficult trip to play Presentation next Sunday. Killarney will do well to come away from the Limerick venue with a win but if they can they will be in a very strong position heading towards the Christmas break.
There wasn't any joy for the local sides in Division 3 as Killorglin were on a week off and both Abbeyfeale and Corca Dhuibhne failed in their home games against Ballincollig and Douglas respectively. David Collins and Michael Roche grabbed tries for Abbeyfeale in their game but the rampant Ballincollig put them to the sword and won the encounter easily by 24-12.
Things were even worse for Corca as they were systematically taken apart by Douglas (43-5). Eoin Firtear scored a try for the home side but it was never going to be their day as they remain rooted to the bottom of the table.
The sides can take a break for league action next Sunday as they all take to the field in the Munster Junior Cup Abbeyfeale will be hoping to get back to winning ways as they entertain Nenagh Ormond while Killorglin play Scariff and Corca Dhuibhne travel to Cork to face Midleton. SUNDAY DECEMBER 2 (2.30pm) Waterpark v Tralee Mallow v Castleisland Presentation v Killarney Abbeyfeale v Nenagh Ormond Killorglin v Scariff Midleton v Corca Dhuibhne