Western clubs know positive start to 2016 will be crucial
It has been a year of contrasting fortunes for the Connacht clubs in the Ulster Bank League. And with just four operating across the five divisions, the province continues to fight above its weight on the national scene.
The Dublin clubs took over in 2015 with Lansdowne claiming the top prize in Division 1A, and Old Wesley in 2A. Nine of the clubs in the top two divisions are from the capital this term.
However, Galwegians' triumph in Division 1B was a massive boost for Connacht, and they have competed gamely in the top tier. A five-try 41-20 hammering of the reigning champions in Round 4 was their stand-out performance this season.
They are currently ninth in Division 1A, but have a game in hand over basement side Ballynahinch. And a win at home to Young Munster in their next outing on January 2 would send them back up the table.
Buccaneers were in contention for promotion towards the end of last season, but 2014-'15 petered out for them. They finished seventh in Division 1B, and despite another positive opening to this campaign, the Pirates are sixth.
Corinthians were relegated to Division 2A, and have not bounced back yet this season. They are bottom of the third tier, while Sligo finished eighth in 2B, but with the restructuring of the leagues they are in 2C this season, and are ninth.