The draw for this years Heineken Junior Cup took place in Ballinasloe on Wednesday last hosted by the the local Ballinasloe RFC. The President of Sligo RFC Brendan Leahy together with Conor Frazer joined what was a very well attended gathering despite the weather conditions.
The draw is always of great interest as every club in Connacht is involved in this competition and like all Cup draws the minnows can be pitted against the strongest.
The format this year is that there is a preliminary round of seven games with the seven winners going forward to the last sixteen. As it transpired Sligo got drawn for this preliminary round away to West Offaly Lions. This will be a first meeting of the two clubs as West Offaly are a very recently formed club which are based in Ferbane. In recent years the local secondary school St Saran’s have had much success and have made their mark in Connacht. In fact two members of the Connacht Pro team Conor Oloughlin and Aidan Wynne are products of this college.
The West Offaly Lions are a decent side who operate at Junior 1B and will not be taken lightly especially in front of their vocal local supporters. However Sligo who are at the top of the Junior league would be expected to progress. If this happens then we are at home for the next round against most likely Monivea which would be the real interesting scenario considering Sligo will be visiting Monivea the previous Sunday for a vital and possibly league deciding clash. What a week of rugby awaits both Sligo and Monivea . If both sides win their league games up to that point then the clash of the top two on the 10th of January will define the season for both clubs with a Cup clash the following week to spice things up.
The rest of the cup draw, should Sligo progress is very favourable with home matches all the way to the final. There is still a hell of a lot of rugby to be played yet this season and there are some real tough encounters ahead for Sligo both in AIB All Ireland Junior Cup Junior League and Heineken Junior Cup. I am sure coach Simon Galvan will be just focusing on the next match and hopefully the team will continue in the winning ways that has been the case so far.