Westport end 40-year wait for Junior glory
Westport 14 Monivea 8 Heineken Connacht Junior Cup
A dominant display at the breakdown and in the lineouts helped Westport end a 40-year wait for Heineken Connacht Junior Cup glory on Sunday as they held off a stern Monivea challenge to secure the crown thanks to two tries from Kevin Corcoran and Kevin Gill.
Having lost last year's final to Galwegians, Westport returned on Sunday in determined mood looking to use that experience to their benefit. The evidence seems to suggest that they did just that, as throughout a tight and tense contest, Westport showed superb accuracy in their set-piece play and conjured up two crucial tries, one in each half.
At a sun-drenched Sportsground, a huge crowd packed into that Clan Terrace and made plenty of noise throughout a tight first half. Both sides made errors but the game was evenly poised up until the half hour mark when Corcoran's moment of brilliance turned the tide in favour of Westport.
The tall, strong running centre broke clear inside his own half after Sean Tobin pounced on a turnover and David O'Malley quickly off loaded to his strike running centre partner. Corcoran had lots to do but he hit full stride, executed a perfect hand off and sprinted to the corner for a try that Tobin converted with supreme accuracy.
Monivea fought back after half time with a Ger O'Connor penalty but their struggles at lineout time were proving costly and led indirectly to Gill's second-half try for the Mayo side that left the score at 14-3.
The game wasn't over yet however and Ger Divilly hit back with a try in the corner for Monivea to set up a tense finale but the Galway side just couldn't generate any more chances as Westport continued to dominate the lineout play thanks in particular to man of the match Eddie Dunning.
At the full time whistle, the emotion was clear for all to see as the Mayo club celebrated a first Junior Cup crown since 1975. They've lost five finals in the intervening years but backboned by many of the Rice College schools side that made a big breakthrough at Junior level in 2010, the Bulls are champions once again.
Scorers - Westport: K Corcoran, K Gill 1 try each; S Tobin 2 cons. Monivea: Ger Divilly 1 try; Ger O'Connor 1 pen
Westport - E Geraghty, E Joyce, K Corcoran, D O'Malley, N O'Malley, S Tobin, D Carpenter, C Groden, J O'Connor, M Cronin, T Dever, E Dunning, C Hastings, K Hastings, L Scahill. Reps: K Gill for K Hastings; M Walsh for M Cronin; C Ryan for C Hastings.
Monivea - S Fahey, C Forde, M Mannion, K Higgins, C Maher, G O'Connor, E Blade, G Fitzmaurice, P Mannion, M Flaherty, S McHugh, V Lally, K King, S Joyce, L Laheen. Reps: E Flaherty for M Flaherty, G Divilly for C Forde, D Blade for E Blade
Ref - K Collins