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All-Ireland League: Division 3 Previews

All-Ireland League: Division 3 Previews

The third weekend of Division 3 rugby. Leaders City of Derry have a perfect 10 so far with two bonus point wins, but Sunday’s Well, Seapoint, Instonians and Naas are also undefeated. There will be plenty of action from Hamilton Park to the JJ McDowell Memorial Grounds.

ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE: DIVISION 3: Saturday, October 23

Kick-off 2.30m unless stated –

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ARDS v INSTONIANS, Hamilton Park

An Ulster derby at Hamilton Park is always worth watching and this could be an interesting game. Ards have lost both of their games to date but have squeezed losing bonus points out of Highfield and Naas, so they will be hungry for a win.

They lost to Division 3 leaders City of Derry in their Ulster Senior Cup quarter-final last Saturday, going down 73-31. Former Ulster player Scott Young and lock Keith McIlwaine were among the scorers as Ards levelled at 26-26, but it was all Derry after that.

Their visitors this Saturday, Instonians, have won their opening two league games and picked up a try-scoring bonus point last time out in a high-scoring encounter with Nenagh Ormond.

‘Inst also bowed out of the Ulster Senior Cup last weekend, losing at home to Malone (32-20). Clem Boyd’s charges ran out 27-13 winners over Ards at Shaw’s Bridge last season, so this one is set up nicely to warm things up on Saturday.

CITY OF DERRY v BANBRIDGE, Judge’s Road

Another Ulster derby and a real humdinger on the cards. Table toppers City of Derry lead the way, after two bonus point wins. They have amassed over 100 points already, and qualified for the Ulster Senior Cup semi-finals last weekend.

Their quarter-final win saw three Duffy brothers, twins Sam and Stephen and younger brother Philip, play together in the Derry team for the first time. Athletic hooker Stephen marked the occasion with a man-of-the-match performance and a hat-trick of tries.

Their opponents here, Banbridge, were edged out by NUIM Barnhall in week one but had a big win over Connemara two weeks ago. Bann will be hoping that lock and captain Simon McKinstry can repeat his hat-trick of tries from that game!

Form undoubtedly favours the hosts, but the margin should be tighter than their 50-7 defeat of Bann in the Ulster Senior League back in August.

CONNEMARA v GREYSTONES, Monastery Field

The Connemara All Blacks are struggling to find form, amid a spate of injuries, and they have come up against two in-form sides in their opening games.

This weekend may not bring much relief as Greystones found their feet last time with a well-judged 29-6 home win over NUIM Barnhall. Tries from out-half Ross Spillane and prop Bobby Clancy, either side of half-time, were telling.

Connemara come into this game on the back of a decent run-out against Galwegians. They gave the Division 1B side a good battle before succumbing to a 47-13 defeat in last weekend’s Connacht Senior Cup semi-final clash. Connemara’s points came from Jack Vaughan (try) and Sean Joyce (conversion and two penalties).

Greystones coach Reggie Corrigan will be hoping that his side can build on that performance against NUIM Barnhall. On paper, the Wicklow men should be strong enough to take the points in this one.

NUIM BARNHALL v NAVAN, Parsonstown

A tight opening day win over Banbridge followed by a 23-point loss to Greystones for Eoin Hogan and his troops means we do not know yet how the Leixlip club will fare this season.

NUIM Barnhall had some cruel luck in the ‘Stones match, with Mark Kavanagh breaking his collarbone, and Marcus Doyle (knee), Barry Dunne (back) and Mark Kenny (hamstring) also sustaining injuries.

Saturday sees Navan make the trip to County Kildare and they will be hungry for points having lost their first two games and only managing a try and a penalty in total.

Government Minister Noel Dempsey was an interested spectator at Balreask Old where the Meath side suffered a 21-5 defeat at the hands of Sunday’s Well. Number 8 Leigh Jackson was their sole scorer.

NUIM Barnhall picked up the CUSAI Sevens title recently so they certainly have some pacy players and they will be hoping to unleash them on Saturday. Form favours a home win.

RAINEY OLD BOYS v HIGHFIELD, Hatrick Park

Rainey Old Boys are without a win in their first two league games but they picked up a losing bonus point away to Naas two weeks ago.

Highfield are still finding their feet after dropping down from Division 2. They came a cropper against an in-form Nenagh Ormond side in week one but defeated Ards at home last time out.

This will be the Cork club’s first ever visit to Hatrick Park, and with injuries to key players, like recent Kiwi recruit Peter Sciascia, Rainey will have to pull out a big performance to get the required result.

Highfield should be good enough to prosper in Division 3 and Saturday will go some way to showing whether they are equipped for the dog fight.

SUNDAY’S WELL v SEAPOINT, Musgrave Park Kick Off 3 pm

The death of Sunday’s Well past President, Billy Keating, has cast a shadow over this game. A ‘Well clubman true and true and a well-known figure in clubs throughout the country, Billy was a stalwart of Munster rugby and will be sadly missed.

Coached by Owen Mullowney, the ‘Well have made a good start to the season, carrying on from where they left off last term, and have posted a bonus point win already. They boast a powerful pack and some good finishers in the back-line, including Chris Spearman, a two-try hero against Navan.

This will be Seapoint’s first trip to the home of Munster Rugby in Cork – Musgrave Park. The newly-promoted side have got off to a rocking start with a bonus point win on the opening day and a terrific home victory over Dublin rivals Wanderers two weeks ago.

Muzzer will be a different story and the ‘Well will not be giving up their place in the table too easily. This will be a real test for the Dublin side, who are led by impressive out-half Brian Keegan. A fascinating clash in prospect, with the Corkmen favoured for a home win.

SUTTONIANS v NENAGH ORMOND, JJ McDowell Memorial Grounds

Suttonians are nought from two but have scrapped their way to a try-scoring bonus point and a losing bonus point from their two games. They shipped over 60 points against City of Derry two weeks ago but still managed four tries of their own, with the returning Ronan Murphy and skipper Richie Delaney scoring two apiece.

Interestingly, it was the first away bonus point won by the Dubliners in the league in almost two years.

They will need to tighten up their defence for the visit of Nenagh Ormond. The Tipperary outfit have scored over 20 points in each of their games so far, winning the first one but losing the second in a classic encounter with ‘Inst.

Nenagh beat Suttonians 19-7 at New Ormond Park last season and after a rest week, they should be capable of annexing their first away win of the campaign.

WANDERERS v NAAS, Aviva Stadium

A return to the home of Irish rugby for Wanderers as they play their first All-Ireland League match on the new all-weather back pitch at the Aviva Stadium.

A big trip too for Naas as they travel to the iconic venue. The Kildare men make the trip to the capital with two wins under their belts and the better start to the season, sitting in eighth place. Full-back David Aherne has top-scored with 25 points in those victories over Ards and Rainey Old Boys.

The home side face their third Leinster team in-a-row, having seen off Navan at Merrion Road before losing to Seapoint two weeks ago.

Wanderers director of rugby Greg McWilliams will want an immediate return to winning ways, particularly in the club’s first match back at their spiritual home. Home advantage could swing what is expected to be a nip-and-tuck game.

Related Links –

All-Ireland League: Division 3 Round-Up