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Oct 10th
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Home SPORT Sport A Mayo rugby derby

A Mayo rugby derby

Locals going head-to-head

Castlebar’s Ruairí Hughes and Westport’s Eoin Joyce look ahead to their Connacht Junior Cup meeting

Rob Murphy

Ruairí Hughes

q. Best moment of the season?
a. THE opening day of the season when we won at Buccaneers in Division 1B. After last season we really needed to get that victory, and to do it away to our main promotion rivals was particularly pleasing. Beating Creggs in the quarter-finals is up there, but that win in Athlone was vital.

q. Best and worst derby moments?
a. THE best is either of the Cawley Cup semi-final victories in recent seasons so I’ll pick the second one. The worst moment was the 20-0 defeat we suffered in the final of that competition in 2007. That was a real low point, so it was great to bounce back like we did.

q. When did you realise this team had turned a corner?
a. I HAVE to say it was back in the summer when Seamus King said he would come back and get involved again as head coach. Even before the first training session, I knew we had the right man to bring us back. He is a motivator like no other, and that kind of man management is key in club rugby.

q. Best and worst trainers?
a. THIS season we have a lot of lads setting a good example, Brian Flannery, Nigel Byrne, Darragh Mulgrew and Damian Togher are always at training early and setting the pace. I suppose a few lads could take note of that. Liam Molloy almost never makes it to training on time and the Staunton brothers are equally as bad for turning up a couple of minutes late.
q. The hair-dryer treatment or the ‘you’ve disappointed me’ look?
a. I THINK Seamie [King] gives us a mixture of the two over the course of a season. His main philosophy is to motivate and to get us to play together as a squad, so there’s lots of encouragement and passion. But a couple of times a season, we’ll get the hair dryer treatment when it’s absolutely necessary.

q. What will be key to winning on Sunday?
a. ATTITUdE. We’re under no illusions, we’re not favourites for this. Westport are a fine team and serious contenders for the title so it will take a strong performance.

Eoin Joyce

q. Best moment of the season?
a. THE turnaround in our season came away to Ballina in October when we beat them in a tight game. Nobody gave us a chance after they had easily beaten us in September, but we came out on top in a tough game.

q. Best and worst derby moments?
a. THE best moment was the Cawley Cup final win six years ago – we put in a brilliant all-round performance that day. Losing to them the following year was a blow. You don’t mind how you win those games, the result is all that matters. It can be intense.

q. When did you realise this team had turned a corner?
a. WITH this squad we always knew we had huge potential with all the under-19s that are coming through. There is so much talent there. Having the likes of Chris Ryan and Liam Scahill pledging their allegiance when they could play elsewhere is vital. So while the Ballina match was the turning point, it was no big surprise. It was just a sign that we had finally got the balance right.

q. Best and worst trainers?
a. LIAM (Scahill) is a great motivator, he lifts us on and off the field. He has set a good example from that point of view. Younger players like Joe O’Connor and Adam Bourke don’t get a chance to slack off as a result. Conor Hastings is another to set the tone, he’s an enforcer and puts his body where you wouldn’t put a hurl so when he asks for more, lads give it their all.

q. The hair-dryer treatment or the ‘you’ve disappointed me’ look?
a. WELL, JP [Walsh] is not afraid to give us an earful, usually with more expletives then you’ll hear in a week. Eddie [Walsh] then gets the blood boiling with the speech from the heart, and the combination has us ready to go. 

q. What will be key to winning on Sunday?
a. A GOOD team performance from 1 to 15. If only ten people show up, we could lose this. But I’m confident that if the full team shows up and everyone plays for each other, we can win.

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