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AIB League: Twenty Miles To Limerick City

AIB League: Twenty Miles To Limerick City

Irish rugby statistician Des Daly previews next Saturday’s AIB League Division Three clash between Bruff and Nenagh Ormond at Kilballyowen Park (kick-off 2.30pm) by looking at the two sides’ league performances since they gained promotion from the junior ranks.

During the recent Rugby World Cup, the rugby correspondent of a national newspaper described the Irish rugby club scene as ‘decaying.’ One assumes that he was not referring to two recently promoted junior clubs that are going from strength to strength in senior ranks.

Located within 30 minutes drive from the city of Limerick, the two clubs, Bruff and Nenagh Ormond, are due to meet next Saturday at Kilballyowen Park in AIB League Division Three.

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Bruff (population: 800) can be found in south County Limerick near Kilmallock. JP McManus country to you and me (and his son did win an underage medal with the rugby club). The club was established in 1970 by two 19-year-olds, one of whom – Willie Conway – is president this season.

Bruff needed three bites at the round robin series before they were promoted into the senior ranks. They finished third in 1999/2000 and runners-up in 2002/03 before all came good in 2003/04.

Victories at home to Monivea (19-13) and away to Seapoint ( 7-6 ) and Coleraine (26-16) left them at the top of the group. The County Limerick outfit became the 14th junior club and the fifth such club from Munster to be promoted into the AIB League.

Bruff finished their first senior season in 11th position, the second in fourth place and last season they came third. The club won the 2006/07 Division Three championship but failed to gain promotion – something which they will hope to rectify this season.

Nenagh (population: 7000) is in County Tipperary, 23 miles from Limerick on the main road to Dublin. The rugby club was founded in 1884 and in 1886 they participated in the first ever Munster Challenge Cup, these days known as the Senior Cup. Unlucky to be drawn against Garryowen in the first fixture of the competition, ‘The Ormonds’ were beaten 9-0.

Nenagh Ormond succeeded in the round robin series at the first time of asking. In 2004/05, they won 40-27 away to Monivea and then produced two narrow victories at home to Naas (16-13) and Rainey Old Boys (18-17).

Nenagh, after 121 years in junior ranks, thus became the 15th junior club to enter the AIB League and the sixth and most recent from the ranks of Munster’s junior sides. They finished sixth at the end of their first Division Three season and fifth the following year.

A brief analysis of the clubs’ respective AIB League records shows that Bruff have enjoyed 66% success and Nenagh 62% in their Division Three games to date.

What really stands out in the records is the fact that both clubs have won more games away from home than they have on their own patch. This is very much the case when the Division Three fixtures away in Ulster are highlighted. But there are other unusual statistics.

Nenagh have the better record (70% success) in all games against Ulster clubs but Bruff have derived more success (81%) when only matches away in Ulster are counted.

Bruff have the much better record (62% success) overall against Leinster clubs but Nenagh have a better record (50% success) playing at home to clubs from the eastern province.

It goes on. Nenagh have won 80% of all of their games against Connacht clubs but Bruff have the better record (75% success) at home to them.

Against the clubs in their own province, Bruff come out on top (80% success), no matter where the appointed venue has been. On the flip side, Bruff’s achilles heel has been playing at home to clubs from Leinster, whereas Nenagh’s has been playing away to them.