The provincial breakdown of clubs in AIB League Division Two this season is Leinster 6, Munster 6, Ulster 4 and Connacht 0. No club from Connacht means that just once in the last nine seasons has there been a club from the western province in Division Two.
Of the four new clubs in Division Two this season, only Bruff have no previous form at the level. Lansdowne spent the 1992/93 campaign in the second division and were promoted at the end of the season with a 100% success rate in their nine games.
Will history repeat itself this season? The headquarters club have advanced to the Leinster Senior League Cup semi-finals where they will meet Old Belvedere, but they disappointed against Nenagh Ormond last weekend when they crashed out of the AIB Cup.
After ten long seasons in Division Three, Instonians eventually secured promotion and now take their place alongside three other Ulster clubs in the second tier.
Inst’s Ulster rivals Malone are competing in Division Two for the 17th time. Other long-standing clubs include Bective Rangers (15 seasons), Old Crescent (14 seasons), UCC and Greystones (both 13 seasons) and Wanderers (12 seasons).
There is an equal divide among the Munster clubs in Division Two this season, three each coming from the Cork and Limerick regions. The Cork clubs appear, at the outset, to have the better chance of eventual promotion.
In Round 1 this Saturday, all four Ulster clubs have home advantage while four of the six Leinster clubs must travel, three of them to the northern province.
Malone play Greystones for the eleventh time in Division Two. UCC, the reigning Division Two champions, have a mouthwatering engagement with Lansdowne in Dublin but having won their first eight games last season, the students will travel with some degree of confidence.
As luck would have it, the two newly-promoted clubs, Instonians and Bruff, are timetabled to immediately renew acquaintances at Shaw’s Bridge in Belfast.
As well as Bruff, Clonakilty have also to make a long journey to fulfil their fixture, but at least they do not have to travel north again in the league this season.
ROUND 1: DIVISION TWO FIXTURES – Saturday, October 4
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
Ballynahinch v De La Salle Palmerston, Ballymacarn Park
Previous AIB League Meetings – Played: 6; Ballynahinch Won: 2; Drawn: 1; DLSP Won: 3; Ballynahinch At Home – Played: 3; Ballynahinch Won: 2; DLSP Won: 1
Belfast Harlequins v Bective Rangers, Deramore Park
Previous AIB League Meetings – Played: 3; Belfast Harlequins Won: 2; Bective Rangers Won: 1; Belfast Harlequins At Home – Played: 1; Belfast Harlequins Won: 1; Bective Rangers Won: 0
Dublin University v Clonakilty, College Park, 1pm
Previous AIB League Meetings – Played: 3; Dublin University Won: 2; Clonakilty Won: 1; Dublin University At Home – Played: 2; Dublin University Won: 2; Clonakilty Won: 0
Highfield v Thomond, Woodleigh Park
Previous AIB League Meetings – Played: 6; Highfield Won: 3; Drawn: 1; Thomond Won: 2; Highfield At Home – Played: 2; Highfield Won: 2; Thomond Won: 1
Instonians v Bruff, Shaw’s Bridge
Previous AIB League Meetings – Played: 5; Instonians Won: 4; Bruff Won: 1; Instonians At Home – Played: 2; Instonians Won: 2; Bruff Won: 0
Lansdowne v UCC, The RDS
Previous AIB League Meetings – Played: 1; Lansdowne Won: 1; UCC Won: 0; Lansdowne At Home – Played: 1; Lansdowne Won: 1; UCC Won: 0
Malone v Greystones, Gibson Park
Previous AIB League Meetings – Played: 11; Malone Won: 7; Greystones Won: 4; Malone At Home – Played: 5; Malone Won: 4; Greystones Won: 1
Old Crescent v Wanderers, Rosbrien
Previous AIB League Meetings – Played: 7; Old Crescent Won: 3; Drawn: 1; Wanderers Won: 3; Old Crescent At Home – Played: 4; Old Crescent Won: 2; Wanderers Won: 2
ROUND 1: FORM GUIDE –
Ballynahinch are on a hat-trick of home wins over De La Salle Palmerston, as are Dublin University over Clonakilty, Highfield over Thomond and Instonians over Bruff.
Malone have won six of their last seven fixtures with Greystones and Old Crescent have lost their last two against Wanderers.
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