Despite being hampered by injuries, Midleton are hopeful of maintaining their winning form which earned them promotion when they take on Munster rivals Nenagh Ormond in Saturday’s AIB League Division 3 semi-final at Towns Park (kick-off 2.30pm).
But Nenagh Ormond, who wrapped up their league campaign with wins over Rainey and Wanders, are confident about their prospects of springing a surprise in Saturday’s showdown.
Having attained second place behind Queen’s University, Midleton have already sealed promotion, yet they will want to finish their season on a high before moving up to the highly competitive Division 2.
Nenagh Ormond completed the league run in third place, having won five of their last six matches, and they will be looking to get revenge against Midleton who narrowly defeated them 6-3 in a tough battle in December.
Weather permitting; the pitch at Towns Park will suit Midleton’s dynamic style of rugby, yet without some standout performers such as centre Junior Sifa and prop Kevin Brierly due to injury, it will be no easy task.
Midleton director of rugby James Colbert acknowledged that his side have their work cut out for them.
“Personally I think it’s going to be a bit tough this week because of injuries. But, with home advantage, we’re confident and this weather will suit us with the play that we’ve tried to bring to the club this year, which is a bit open,” Colbert told IrishRugby.ie.
“I think there’s just a mentality in the club where we’ve got some lads like Dave Lee and Aidan McCarthy and Mark O’Connell that have brought a stubborness to the team that means we don’t really lie down that easy.
“Last week we beat Suttonians (16-15) in Dublin and they haven’t lost at home all year. We went up there and beat them which was a great result for us.”
However, Colbert admitted that after achieving promotion his side have slightly eased off the pace.
“Obviously we’d love to win it but our main aim for the year was to get promoted and the lads have kind of taken their foot off the pedal a bit now.”
Midleton have only beaten Nenagh Ormond once in the last five outings and captain Dave Lee is expecting a strong challenge from the Tipperary side.
“We will treat the game with the respect it deserves because we know that Nenagh will be coming down here all guns blazing,” said Lee.
“But at this stage injuries are taking their toll. We’re under a bit of pressure, we don’t have a full strength side and it has been a very long season.”
Michael Kennedy, who captained Nenagh Ormond for the first half of the season before being sidelined with a neck injury, spoke of his team’s prospects for Saturday’s match.
“We have to expect a big team effort from the lads. If you’re going to win anything, a semi-final or a final, you have to work together,” he told IrishRugby.ie.
“But I think we have a great chance, having played ourselves into this position.
“There’s a strong determination in the camp that really carried through from last year. We’ve never got to the top four before so that was always one of our goals.
“Promotion was too but now the goal is to win something and hopefully this will be a stepping stone for next year.”
He added: “Midleton are probably the form team themselves, one of the two top teams in the league. They’re going to want to set the tone for next year in Division 2 so I don’t think they’re going to be complacent against us.”
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