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Ulster Bank League: Division 2C Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 2C Previews

Kilballyowen Park will get the ‘Friday Night Lights’ treatment as Bruff host table toppers Old Crescent in the crunch second leg of their Limerick derby duel. Elsewhere, Kanturk and Navan are both plotting revenge on Midleton and Wanderers respectively in Saturday’s headline games.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 2C: Saturday, December 12

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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Bruff (4th) v Old Crescent (1st), Kilballyowen Park, Friday, 7.45pm

Another tense and tight affair looks likely as Limerick rivals Bruff and Old Crescent meet in a second successive Friday Night Lights clash. Out-half Shane O’Brien’s last-minute drop goal saw Crescent prevail 14-12 in the wind and rain last week.

Eugene McGovern’s side top the table by six points, boasting the division’s most potent attack and the second best defensive record, but if Bruff can make the necessary improvements, their revenge mission could have a happy ending in front of a big home crowd.

Dundalk (10th) v Boyne (8th), Mill Road, Friday, 8pm

Boyne showed their ability to win hard-fought games when winger John McDonnell’s try, 13 minutes from the end, steered them to a 10-8 win at Shamrock Lodge. Their back-line, who looked to have the measure of their Dundalk counterparts, will be hoping for a drier pitch in the rematch.

A win for the visitors could see them move up to seventh in the standings, but bottom side Dundalk are a resilient bunch and a winning start to the second half of the season would be a big boost to their bid to avoid relegation.

Kanturk (7th) v Midleton (5th), Knocknacolan

Midleton will be confident of completing a season’s double over their Cork rivals Kanturk, who succumbed to a 25-0 defeat at Towns Park last Saturday. Prop Kevin Brierley was one of the three try scorers but Fergus Burke’s charges missed out on a bonus point score.

Although Kanturk have lost four of their last five games, they have been playing well in patches and if they can tighten up in defence and make the most of their attacking opportunities, the battle for the derby spoils should be a lot closer this time around.

Navan (6th) v Wanderers (2nd), Balreask Old

After two narrow defeats in November, Wanderers returned to winning ways with a 27-18 defeat of Navan on the Aviva Stadium’s back pitch. Niall O’Donoghue and Ciaran Wade continue to stand out in the back-line, featuring regularly on the scoresheet.

Curbing the pair’s influence will be key for the Navan men as they chase their third victory in five home matches. Three tries was a very good return in tough conditions last week, and with Boyne also visiting Balreask Old next Saturday, Navan player-coach Alan Kingsley knows they simply have to make home advantage count as they try to close the gap on the top five sides.

Tullamore (3rd) v Sligo (9th), Spollanstown

Six wins on the trot have Tullamore motoring along very nicely, and their back-to-back pre-Christmas encounters with second-from-bottom Sligo offer a chance to make up ground on leaders Old Crescent. With a game in hand, the Offaly men are currently nine points off the summit.

It is difficult to see Sligo upsetting the form book, as they attempt to add to their lone victory so far (39-19 against Dundalk on Halloween night). Their meetings with fellow strugglers Dundalk and Boyne in late January/early March are already looking like season-defining fixtures.