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All-Ireland League: Division 2 Previews

All-Ireland League: Division 2 Previews

A glance at the top of the table in Division 2 and you could be forgiven for thinking it was the Ulster Senior League. The top four teams are all from the Northern province and all secured a try bonus in their opening game. This weekend should give a further indication of how this division will pan out in the coming months.

ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE: DIVISION 2: Saturday, October 9

Kick-off 2.30m unless stated –

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BALLYMENA v OLD CRESCENT, Eaton Park

A flying start for the Braidmen in their opening game away to Midleton, with young backs Tommy Seymour and Luke Marshall among the try scorers in a 26-16 victory.

Incidentally that was the first time the two clubs had met in competitive action. This week, Ballymena entertain another Munster side – Old Crescent.

The Limerick club travel north with a win under their belts and sitting just a point behind their hosts, having beaten Clonakilty first time out. Second half tries from Lewis Patterson and replacement James O’Neill helped Crescent run out 25-3 winners.

This game may be a better barometer for Crescent as Ballymena will be a tough nut to crack for any side. A home win looks the likely result.

BALLYNAHINCH v TERENURE COLLEGE, Ballymacarn Park

A good start for Ballynahinch last Saturday as they put 40 points on Corinthians in the opening game. Southern Hemisphere duo Ryan Bambry (three conversions and three penalties) and Adam D’Arcy (two tries) accounted for 25 of those points.

Visitors Terenure should offer a stiffer test this weekend at Ballymacarn Park. ‘Nure were stung by their hefty loss to Dublin rivals Bective and will travel with intent, led by their talented out-half David McAllister.

But ‘Hinch know what it takes to get promoted and should be equipped to handle the Terenure challenge. This one has home win pencilled in.

BECTIVE RANGERS v OLD WESLEY, Donnybrook

Neighbours, everybody needs good neighbours…Old Wesley took a bit of a hammering at home to Malone last weekend so they have an added incentive, if any were needed, for this match.

Bective started the campaign with an impressive victory over Terenure and will come into this with their tails up. Debutant out-half Gearoid O’Grady kicked four penalties in that 22-8 success at Lakelands Park.

Somebody will be celebrating at Donnybrook on Saturday evening but difficult to say who it will be. We are backing Bective to make it two from two.

CLONAKILTY v CORINTHIANS, Shannonvale Cross

Both teams took a bit of a beating last weekend, so this Saturday represents a second chance to get the season off to a good start.

Corinthians emerged 17-10 winners in the corresponding fixture last season and should fancy their chances on the road this weekend. Judging by his 60-metre intercept score against Ballynahinch, winger James Buckley is a quality finisher who could help the Galway side take the match points.

Clon will be hoping to set out their stall at home for the season and coach Dave Walsh will certainly be eager for them get back to their early season winning ways.

DE LA SALLE PALMERSTON v BELFAST HARLEQUINS, Kirwan Park

De La Salle Palmerston slipped up last Saturday, while visitors Belfast Harlequins picked up a bonus point win at home.

That sets us up nicely for a big clash this weekend at Kirwan Park. ‘Salmo will be smarting from their 22-17 loss to UCD while ‘Quins will be aiming to continue their winning start and maintain their presence at the business end of the table.

Tries from Neil McComb, Mark McGrath, Matt Holmes and Niall Annett steered ‘Quins to an impressive 31-7 opening day victory over Thomond.

This encounter should be a good measure for both ‘Salmo and Belfast men and could set the scene for the season ahead.

MALONE v DUBLIN UNIVERSITY, Gibson Park

Gibson Park should see some cracking rugby this weekend. Malone claimed a bonus point win at Old Wesley last Saturday and will be hoping to add at least another four points to their tally when Dublin University come calling.

Malone certainly hit the ground running, with Ulster’s American winger Paul Emerick scoring four tries in a 39-3 victory at Donnybrook.

Trinity will not be pushovers. They opned their league campaign with an encouraging 30-10 win over newly-promoted Queen’s, with full-back James O’Donoghue kicking six from six attempts for a 15-point haul.

The students ran out 30-10 winners over Malone last season, so the scene is set for an interesting and perhaps high-scoring match.

QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY v UCD, Dub Lane

Another week, another intervarsity and again a very promising tie in prospect at Dub Lane.

There is a lot of focus on Queen’s this season to see if they can sustain the form that saw them run away with Division 3 last term. They did not get off to a great start when they were the only Ulster side to lose last weekend.

This Saturday they host UCD, fresh from their gritty 22-17 win over DLSP. College rugby always throws up some delights and this could be a good game for the spectators if both sides decide to cut loose.

THOMOND v MIDLETON, Liam Fitzgerald Park

It was the manner of last Saturday’s defeat to Belfast Harlequins as much as the margin that will rankle with Thomond, with ‘Quins breaking away in the closing quarter.

They might have wished for an easier follow-up this weekend but they will host a Midleton team with a point to prove, after they too lost to northern opposition in the form of Ballymena.

Thomond need to demonstrate they have the firepower to challenge for promotion at the sticky end of the season, while Midleton need to establish their Division 2 credentials early on. Home advantage could prove key.