Divison 2B has three new teams with Clonakilty and Instonians dropping down and Skerries entering the fray but who will be challenging for honours?
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 2B: Saturday, September 29
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated
Clonakilty v Armagh, The Vale
A new season in a new division for Clonakilty but they have been here before and won it back in 2006 so they know what it takes.
Armagh had a good season last time out with seven wins and finishing in 6th place and can have ambitions to aim for honours this time.
A tough test then for both teams that will allow them to set out their stalls for the season head.
Connemara v Boyne, Monastery Field
Last season was a real turn around for Connemara, having finished bottom of the pile the one before. Seven wins and three try bonuses saw them finish 8th. Can they improve again this season?
Boyne were one of the newcomers last time and finished just below their hosts in 9th place.
Last season this was a 49 point game with Boyne winning out 27 – 22 so another cracking game is in prospect.
Instonians v Skerries, Shaw’s Bridge
Like Clon, Inst have been here before and gained promotion before so they know the challenge ahead this season.
That challenge starts in a big way on Saturday as newcomers Skerries will be itching to win their first game in the league following promotion from Leinster.
It should be an interesting game for both players and coaches to measure their worth for the season ahead.
NUIM Barnhall v Naas, Parsonstown
The Leixlip/Maynooth club are still sore with themselves for letting their promotion shot slip at the tail end of last season. The ambition is there again this year and they should be strong contenders.
An opening day clash with Kildare rivals Naas should prove interesting.
Naas are a hard team to judge – they can pull off some cracking wins against big sides but can then let things slip when they really should win. Consistency will be their aim this season.
Rainey OB v Nenagh Ormond, Hatrick Park
A late surge from Rainey wasn’t enough to get into promotion contention last season but, like NUIM Barnhall, they are early season favourites to be in the mix this year.
Nenagh Ormond, long flying the flag in Tipperary, were outshone by their Cashel rivals last season but can still mount a challenge and are always hard to beat. Should be a tough encounter at Hatrick Park.
Sligo v Navan, Hamilton Park
Five wins was not the return that Sligo hoped for last season but can they match their performances to their ambitions?
Navan finished down the table in 12th place and that will rankle with the club. Expect them to perform better this season.
With Knocknarea looming overhead and the wind blowing in from Strandhill, this ground can be a challenging one!
Sunday’s Well v Thomond, Musgrave Park
The Well managed to avoid the relegation playoffs last season, but only just. They will need to improve on their five wins if they are to stay out of trouble this season.
Thomond dropped down last season losing out to Highfield in the playoff.
Two sides that struggle to make a mark but can one of them prove a surprise package this year?
Suttonians v Ards, JJ McDowell Park
Both sides finished in the lower half of the table last season and indeed Ards had to win a playoff against Ulster Bank Junior Cup finalists Monivea to avoid relegation.
Both sides will need to up their game this season if they are to avoid a similar struggle so Saturday offers a chance to kick things off well.