NEWCASTLE WEST are through to the last four of the Energia All-Ireland Junior Rugby Cup after a 1,000km weekend round trip reaped the ideal reward in county Antrim.
The county Limerick giant-killers stunned Ballyclare, last season’s runners-up, with a thrilling 26-24 win at the Cloughan. Newcastle West bounced back from a red card with influential hooker Eoin O’Halloran’s second try deciding the outcome right at the death.
O’Halloran, 23, is son of coach Aidan, the Young Munster and Thomond legend.
When Ballyclare captain Joel McBride, son of former Ireland international Denis, displayed his footballing skills to score his team’s third try, they looked on course for a semi-final spot with the scoreboard showing 24-16.
Yet, Newcastle West, whose first try was run in by full-back Seán Ives, showed exactly why they won a Munster Junior League and Cup double last season with a whirlwind finish. Out-half Shane Airey kicked his third penalty and cooly slotted over the conversion that split the sides.
Limerick’s other team to reach the quarter-final stage, Thomond, succumbed to a heavy loss in the capital. Monkstown, the last Leinster club standing, ran out 61-7 winners with nine tries shared out between backs and forwards.
Enniskillen and Clogher Valley also qualified for the semis.
NEWCASTLE WEST: Seán Ivess; Daniel Normoyle, Sean Murphy, Cian Tierney, Darragh Fox; Shane Airey, Rob Guerin; Alan O’Riordan, Eoin O’Halloran, TJ Relihan, Jason Woulfe, Ger Griffin (capt), Keelan Headd, James Corbett, Cormac Nash.