Thursday 18 April 2019

Eventful year out West capped by big news on and off the field

Stock photo: Sportsfile
Stock photo: Sportsfile

This year was another eventful year on the Connacht Club & Community scene with plenty of success both on and off the field for many of our clubs and schools.

In Junior Rugby, it's been a brilliant 2018 for Ballina RFC. They were crowned Connacht Club of the Year after their Junior League/Cup double and promotion back to the AIL after a decade-long absence, and have continued their winning streak to lead the way in Division 2C at the Christmas break.

Creggs are another side to enjoy a productive 12 months - winning both the Cawley and Curley Cups, while they have also become the first club in the province to install a full-size 3G pitch. They're well placed in J1A behind leaders Connemara with a two-horse race developing between the teams for this year's league honours.

Tasted In Youth Rugby, there was success for Corinthians across three cups (U-13, U-14 and U-17), while Ballina, Galwegians and Buccaneers also tasted Youth Cups glory. On the Schools scene, Garbally were crowned Senior Schools Cup champions for an incredible 46th time, while Pres Athenry and Pres Headford took home the Emerging and Development Cups respectively.

On the provincial front, undoubtedly the highlight was the interpro double won the Connacht U-18 Boys and Girls teams.

The Boys clinched the interpro title at the first U-18s Festival at University of Limerick in August, first beating Leinster dramatically in the last minute of the game, followed by victories over Munster and Ulster. It was the first time in 10 years Connacht had won an interprovincial title at U-18 level.

Almost exactly a month later, further success was to follow for the U-18 Girls who sealed the interpro series for the first time in the competition's history. Just like the boys, they started off their campaign with a late comeback win, this time over Ulster in Ballinasloe.

Munster were defeated a week later at The Sportsground, and then the title was secured with a brilliant win away to Leinster at MU Barnhall.

Finally, the most significant off-field news was October's announcement of the redevelopment of The Sportsground into a 12,000-capacity stadium. This will act as a beacon for the next generation of players.

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