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All-Ireland League: Division 2 Previews

All-Ireland League: Division 2 Previews

Ulster clubs still dominate after two rounds of games in Division 2, but this weekend’s action kicks off at Donnybrook where Old Wesley host UCD in another ‘Friday Night Lights’ encounter.

ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE: DIVISION 2: Saturday, October 23

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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OLD WESLEY v UCD, Donnybrook, 8pm (Friday, October 22)

It has not been the easiest of starts for Old Wesley this season. They consolidated their position in the league last season and must have been hoping to challenge again, but an opening day loss to Malone followed by defeat to arch rivals Bective sees them in 13th place with a solitary losing bonus point to their name.

Prop Tristan Goodbody scored their try in a 12-5 loss to Bective last time out.

UCD come calling this Friday night in what promises to be a great night of rugby, and with Leinster on the road on Saturday this is a perfect opportunity for the neutrals to enjoy ‘Friday Night Lights’!

The students, who lie fourth in the table, have been impressive in their first two games with a good win over DLSP followed by a 32-26 triumph over Queen’s University. It took an injury-time try from back rower Richie Bent to seal the result in Belfast – will they leave it late against their Dublin 4 neighbours?

BALLYNAHINCH v CLONAKILTY, Ballymacarn Park

Two games in and two bonus point wins in the bag, Ballynahinch have certainly started this league campaign with intent. Six tries in their last outing, Ryan Bambry’s accurate right boot and the presence of flanker Willie Faloon, amongst other Ulster players, all add up to a tough nut to crack.

As evidence of ‘Hinch’s good form, they hammered Banbridge 77-0 in an Ulster Senior Cup quarter-final last Saturday, with Kiwi out-half Bambry scoring a try and 11 conversions.

Clonakilty come to Ballymacarn Park this weekend without a win or a point under their belts. Captained by Tom Ryan, they lost 36-14 at home to Corinthians last time out, with debutant centre Kieran Howlin and winger Noel O’Sullivan scoring a try apiece.

Unlikely to break down ‘Hinch on Saturday afternoon, Clon could be making the long journey back to Clon worse off again.

BECTIVE RANGERS v BALLYMENA, Donnybrook

Fifth-placed Bective Rangers host Ballymena, who sit in third, in what could be an important game for both teams.

The Braidmen have fellow Ulster clubs Malone and Ballynahinch ahead of them in the table and will be aiming to keep the flag flying for the northern province this weekend. Like those two sides, they come into this game with a ‘perfect ten’ from their opening two league games.

Ballymena lost 25-18 to Dungannon in a well-contested Ulster Senior Cup quarter-final last weekend, and will be hoping young centre Luke Marshall can return to match-winning form. He was their man-of-the-match in a 31-3 defeat of Old Crescent last time out in the league.

Rangers have faced down Terenure and Old Wesley so this is their first clash with non-Leinster opposition and a great chance to measure their chances for the campaign ahead.

Bective have a new scrum half on board this season, in the form of Brad Allam. He played representative rugby for Auckland at junior level and made the New Zealand Barbarians under 85kg team that played Australia.

BELFAST HARLEQUINS v DUBLIN UNIVERSITY, Deramore Park

Belfast Harlequins opened the league with a bonus point thumping of Thomond and squeezed a losing bonus out of DLSP two weeks ago. They have team captain Andrew Gillespie back after injury, and are formidable opposition at home.

Dublin University are on the same points from similar opening games. This weekend sees them facing Ulster opposition for the third week on the trot.

They accounted for Queen’s University in week one and then lost out to Malone last time out. Their American back rower Scott LaValla helped Ulste Ravens make a winning start to the British & Irish Cup last Saturday, and could face some of his Ravens team-mates here.

Dublin University gave ‘Quins a 32-7 beating back in April, so it will be interesting to see how this one goes on Saturday.

CORINTHIANS v DE LA SALLE PALMERSTON, Corinthian Park

Eighth plays ninth in this mid-table clash in Galway on Saturday. Both teams won last time out in the league.

Hosts Corinthians enjoyed a big victory over Clonakilty two weeks ago, and are in buoyant mood after last weekend’s 38-9 Connacht Senior Cup semi-final win over Buccaneers. James Buckley (2) and Ireland Under-20 international Eoin Griffin were among the try scorers.

DLSP dogged it out with Belfast Harlequins in their most recent league fixture, squeezing a 12-9 win with a late try from flanker Karl Moran.

Both of these sides have a -2 points difference so this one is nicely set up, with a result a good pointer for the season ahead. ‘Salmo lost heavily in the corresponding fixture at the end of last season so the odds favour the Galway side, especially with home advantage.

MIDLETON v MALONE, Towns Park

Midleton picked up a good win over Thomond in the second round of the league to give them their first points in Division 2, having lost to Ballymena on the opening day.

The visit of Malone is a great chance for these two clubs to get to know each other and the Cork outfit will be keen to build on that three-try triumph over Thomond.

Malone have carved out two bonus point wins so far and with a few Ulster players in the ranks, including American winger Paul Emerick, they are proving tough opposition. The Belfast men are into the Ulster Senior Cup semi-finals, following last weekend’s 32-20 victory over Instonians.

Malone have scored nine tries in two games while Midleton have conceded six. An away win looks likely.

OLD CRESCENT v QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY, Rosbrien

Eleventh against twelfth in this Limerick v Belfast encounter at Rosbrien. Old Crescent opened their league run with a win over Clonakilty but were well beaten by Ballymena in the last round. Fergal Lawlor’s lone penalty was their only score in a 31-3 defeat.

Queen’s, who gained promotion from Division 3 last season, travel to Limerick badly in need of a win to kickstart their season.

Edged out by UCD two weeks ago, the Belfast students were well beaten by Dublin University the week before that. Last season’s free-scoring ways seem a long way off as yet, although they did kick into gear a bit against UCD.

This is their first non-varsity game in the league and offers an opportunity to put a late loss to UCD behind them.

TERENURE COLLEGE v THOMOND, Lakelands Park

Not a start to the season to be relished by either club. Two games in, no points and big numbers stacking up in the points against column.

One team should stop that trend this weekend and the odds favour a home win. Terenure suffered a 45-10 defeat at the hands of Ballynahinch last time out, with scrum half Kevin O’Neill scoring their only try.

Centre Mark Cosgrave scored two tries in Thomond’s recent loss to Midleton, and will be hoping to continue his scoring form.

Thomond gave Terenure College a bit of a thumping on the final day of last season – 35-17 – and will be aiming to give the Dubliners similar treatment at Lakelands Park.

Related Links –

All-Ireland League: Division 2 Round-Up