Cup fever building after draw for Heineken Junior competitions
The draw for the Heineken Junior Cup was made on Monday in Claremorris.
Representatives of the Connacht Branch and sponsors Heineken were joined by members of the clubs involved in the Dalton Inn where they awaited their fate.
Sean Brennan, secretary of the Connacht Competitions Committee, invited Claremorris president Jarlath Sweeney to open the draw by addressing the attendees.
Gearóid Smith of Heineken also addressed the event and highlighted the long-standing association Heineken have with the most prestigious competition in Connacht Junior Rugby.
Gerry O'Donnell, president of the Connacht Branch, then got the draw under way in front of an expectant audience.
The draw itself saw 20 teams enter from the three Junior Qualifying Leagues, Junior 1A, Junior 1B and Junior 1C.
The eight teams from 1A were seeded and enter the draw at the last 16 stage. The remaining 12 teams would enter at the preliminary round stage and the first four teams drawn would receive a bye to the round of 16.
Holders Westport and last season's beaten finalists Monivea were among the seeded teams entering the draw, while this is the first occasion hosts Claremorris would be taking part in the competition.
Loughrea, Ballyhaunis, Sligo and Castlebar received byes in the opening round while newcomers Claremorris were drawn away to Tuam in the opening round.
A local derby between Dunmore and Ballinrobe was the other stand-out tie.
None of the eight seeded teams entering the draw at the last 16 stage were drawn to face each other, meaning many of the Junior 1B & C sides will face difficult tasks in the second round.
The preliminary round matches will take place on January 24. The round of 16 matches will take place on January 31.
Heineken Junior Cup draw
Preliminary Round: OLBC v Creggs, Tuam v Claremorris, Dunmore v Ballinrobe, Corrib v NUIG.
Byes: Ballyhaunis, Loughrea, Sligo, Castlebar.
Last 16: Ballinasloe v Sligo, Corinthians v Tuam or Claremorris, Ballyhaunis v Ballina, OLBC or Creggs v Connemara, Monivea v Castlebar, Westport v Dunmore or Ballinrobe, Loughrea v Galwegians, Buccaneers v Corrib or NUIG.