The local derby between Dungannon and first-placed Armagh tops the bill in Ulster Bank League Division 2B this weekend, while promoted pair Old Crescent and Wanderers lock horns in Limerick.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 2B: Saturday, October 1
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
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Bective Rangers (5th) v Greystones (2nd), Donnybrook
Dublin opposition again for Greystones who saw off Wanderers’ challenge, 25-16, last week. Out-half Andrew Kealy, back from a long-term injury, showed his class with a superb 20-point kicking haul against the Chaps.
Bective will be brimming with confidence after their seven-try thrashing of Thomond. Dave Murphy’s side certainly have the pace to trouble opposition on Donnybrook’s 4G pitch.
However, Greystones won both of last season’s meetings – 36-8 at home and 23-13 at the Dublin 4 venue – and they should have the edge here again.
City of Derry (9th) v Thomond (10th), Judge’s Road
Not the start that either of these clubs would have wanted. City of Derry look in better shape based on their second half display against Armagh, and this is a ‘must win’ home game for player-coach Richard McCarter and his team-mates.
Bottom side Thomond, who came down from 2A at the end of last season, are playing Derry in a competitive tie for only the fourth time. Their head coach Ger Casey wanted a ‘positive early start’ to the new campaign but it has not come.
One obvious plus is that Thomond are scoring tries – five in their first two outings – and if they can convert more of their attacking pressure into points, they could have Derry in trouble.
Dungannon (3rd) v Armagh (1st), Stevenson Park
A mouth-watering Ulster derby that is sure to draw a big crowd. Armagh make the short trip up the road as table toppers, while third-placed Dungannon are only a point behind – as they were in the final table last season.
With number 8 James McMahon in fine form, the Tyrone men are motoring along nicely, racking up 20 points or more in their victories over MU Barnhall and Skerries to date.
However, Armagh have fond memories of their 35-20 Ulster Premiership win at Stevenson Park on September 10 when they ran in four tries in a terrific 20-minute spell. Former ‘Gannon favourite Ali Birch has hit the ground running as Armagh’s new captain, with full-back Timmy MacNeice also setting high standards.
MU Barnhall (7th) v Skerries (6th), Parsonstown
MU Barnhall and Skerries both lost ground in last Saturday’s heavy rain, the Blue Bulls drawing 16-all with Old Crescent and the Dubliners going down at home to Dungannon (24-13).
Barnhall will have bottled up the frustration of coughing up a 13-point first half lead against Crescent. Darren Hudson got off the mark with an early try, and Sligo man Simon Gillespie is handling the pressure well as them team’s goal-kicker and skipper.
Skerries were 32-8 winners of the clubs’ most recent league clash – in Division 2A back in January 2015. They ran in four tries that night, with big second row Joe Glennon and talismanic captain Ross McAuley among the survivors.
Old Crescent (8th) v Wanderers (4th), Rosbrien
Second-from-bottom Old Crescent showed their battling qualities when coming away from Barnhall with a late draw. Winger Val McDermott, one of their try scorers in Kildare, is proving a player to watch out for in their Brian Tuohy-marshalled back-line.
Wanderers are smarting from a nine-point loss at Greystones. They need to work on their discipline after five first half penalty goals left them playing catch-up at 15-3 down.
Of course, Crescent and Wanderers know each well having both been promoted from 2C last term. Despite finishing a full 19 points behind them in the table, the Dubliners notably did the double on Crescent, winning 25-24 at Rosbrien and 31-24 on home soil.