Division 2A of the Ulster Bank League gets underway this weekend and with the move to five divisions of ten teams next season, there is a lot to play for in the months ahead. The action kicks off under the floodlights at Holmpatrick.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 2A: Saturday, September 20
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
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Skerries v Old Wesley, Holmpatrick, Friday, September 19, 8pm
A Dublin derby under the floodlights at Holmpatrick sees a Skerries side on the rise host an Old Wesley team keen to improve on last season.
The north County Dublin club have gone from the Qualifying League to Division 2B and now Division 2A in successive seasons. Can they sustain this momentum?
The visitors finished ninth last season with an even split of seven wins and losses and a single draw. Friday night will be the first chance to set out the stall. Expect a raucous home crowd and a cracking game.
Banbridge v Cashel, Rifle Park
The first Ulster Bank League game on the brand new pitch at Rifle Park promises to be a good one. The two clubs finished within two points of each other last season with visitors Cashel in seventh spot nd theirs hosts in eighth.
Last season’s game went the way of the Tipperary club and we can expect ‘Bann’ to be out for revenge and a season setting opener for the new pitch.
Bective Rangers v Seapoint, Donnybrook
Another new pitch, this time a next generation one at Donnybrook, will be unveiled for this league clash on Saturday.
Again, only two points separated the clubs at the end of last season with Bective in 11th position and Seapoint just below them in 12th.
The corresponding fixture last year was an exciting 25-24 win for Seapoint. A similar high-scoring game would mark a great start for the new facility.
Dungannon v Nenagh Ormond, Stevenson Park
It has been a hard fall for Dungannon. Not too many season ago they had Paddy Jackson knocking over points for them.
They will be targeting a return to that kind of form this season having been relegated with just two wins in Division 1B last season.
The visitors pose a real test, however, as they went unbeaten in Division 2B to gain promotion. An interesting ‘spirit level’ of a game for both clubs and more adventures for Nenagh mascot Basil!
Naas v UCC, Forenaughts
Contrasting fortunes for these two clubs last season with Naas finishing in 12th place, while the Cork students ended up in fourth.
Interestingly, Naas won this fixture in September of last year on a 24-28 margin. UCC will aim for a better start this season and could again be challenging for the top four come April.
NUIM Barnhall v Blackrock College, Parsonstown
NUIM Barnhall did not rest on their promotion laurels last season when finishing a creditable sixth. The aim must be to challenge for the top four this time around.
Blackrock are another club, like Dungannon, that have fallen through the ranks in recent seasons. They need to steady the ship this term and Saturday could be a ‘bellwether’ game for them.
Rainey Old Boys v City of Derry, Hatrick Park
A cracking Ulster derby is in prospect at Hatrick Park on Saturday. Rainey finished 10th in the division last season while City of Derry will have promotion in their sights having claimed third spot last time out.
In the week when the draw was made for the Ulster Bank All-Ireland Junior Cup, it is interesting to note that both clubs are former winners of that competition.
Thomond v Queen’s University, Liam Fitzgerald Park
Thomond were a bit of a surprise package last season but they earned their promotion the hard way having finshed third on points difference and then gone to a play-off.
Queen’s finished fifth last season and will want to kick on from there. Thomond will give them a warm welcome on Saturday afternoon and could surprise again.