As in Division Two where the two recently-promoted clubs meet this Saturday, the two recently-relegated clubs – Barnhall and Suttonians – are due to play each other in Division Three. Barnhall are reappearing in Division Three after sevens seasons in the second tier.
AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION THREE: Saturday, October 4
BARNHALL v SUTTONIANS, Parsonstown, 2.30pm
Referee: Michael Patton (Ulster)
Barnhall’s best finish in AIB League Division Three was third place in the 2001/02 season, after which they lost an Division Three play-off game 23-17 away to UL Bohemians at Thomond Park.
Prop Jim Nolan retains the captaincy at Parsonstown but now finds that most of his 2007/08 back-line are appearing in the colours of Bective Rangers this season.
Former Dublin University captain Ian ‘Moggie’ Morgan embarks on his 13th consecutive season as head coach and his eleventh in the AIB League. Do not mention the word ‘pension’ to him!
A win this weekend would be welcomed heartily by Barnhall as the County Kildare club suffered a club record eight straight Division Two defeats at the back end of last season.
Early season form has been nothing to write home about as they lost all three games in their Leinster Senior League Cup pool, conceding 14 tries in the process. A ray of sunshine did appear recently when they travelled to Connemara and won 17-14 in the AIB Cup.
The last time (2005/06) that Suttonians campaigned in Division Three, they reached the play-off ginal where they lost 19-12 to Clonakilty at Lansdowne Road. After promotion, the ‘league of nations’ club struggled for two seasons before being relegated last April.
Suttonians, who have the worst Leinster clubs’ record playing AIB League rugby on the road in their own province, won only once away from home last season and finished their campaign with five straight losses.
Like Barnhall, they will be eager to reverse this trend as soon as possible. In their Leinster Senior League Cup pool recently, Suttonians lost their three games including a three-point defeat at home to junior club Navan. They were also defeated 34-10 away to Ards in the first round of the AIB Cup.
Former Clontarf captain and dual provincial prop Warren O’Kelly has taken up the coaching reins at Station Road this season. O’Kelly was in charge at Old Belvedere in the first division last year.
In previous seasons, the two clubs have met each other in Divisions Four (1999/2000), Three and Two (twice) of the AIB League.
Suttonians won 43-35 in an 11-try thriller on their most recent visit to Parsonstown in December 2006. They followed up with a 30-15 victory over Barnhall in Dublin 13 last season.
RECENT AIB LEAGUE MEETINGS –
2006/07 – Barnhall 35 Suttonians 43, Parsonstown
2007/08 – Suttonians 30 Barnhall 15, JJ McDowell Memorial Grounds
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Barnhall to win by less than 7 points