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Ulster Bank League: Division 2C Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 2C Previews

Either Navan or Sligo will be crowned Division 2C champions at Balreask Old tomorrow. The Meath men are looking to complete an historic week for the club, while second-placed Sligo are chasing silverware just a year on from nearly dropping down to the junior ranks.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 2C: Saturday, April 15

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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Bruff (5th) v Boyne (9th), Kilballyowen Park

Bruff will look at the table and think of what might have been. The top four is frustratingly out of reach – just six points – and they are paying for an early season slump that included five defeats in six games.

Visitors Boyne would gladly swap places with them, the Drogheda outfit are still fighting off automatic relegation. Even if they avoid the drop this weekend, their senior status will rest on winning an April 29 play-off at home to the Round Robin runners-up.

Boyne’s counter attack caused Rainey a good deal of problems in last week’s agonising 18-17 loss and they showed huge work-rate in both defence and attack. More of the same and their trip down to Limerick could be a rewarding one.

Kanturk (10th) v Midleton (7th), Knocknacolan

One of the biggest games in Kanturk’s recent history as they look to lift themselves off the bottom rung on the final day. Home advantage, a Cork derby and everything on the line for Ben Martin’s proud squad.

Brothers Sean and Conor Cremin combined for all of the ‘Turks’ points in their 19-13 reversal at Seapoint last Saturday. Midleton are 10 points ahead of their county rivals, lying seventh overall.

The Red Devils have lost their last three games, two of which saw them pocket bonus points, and they would love to finish the campaign as they began it – they were comprehensive 30-9 winners when Kanturk visited them in mid-September.

Navan (1st) v Sligo (2nd), Balreask Old

This is the match of the day and probably the entire season in Division 2C. The fixture planners could not have scripted it any better as leaders Navan, armed with a three-point lead, host the only other team left standing in the title race.

Sligo will arrive at Balreask Old in buoyant mood after 10 wins in-a-row, a stunning turnaround from last April when Ross Mannion’s men had to win a play-off against Enniscorthy in order to to stay in the Ulster Bank League.

Navan’s Under-20s showed the seniors how to do it when they won the Fraser McMullen Cup for the first time last Sunday. An historic first league promotion beckons for Alan Kingsley’s side who are captained by former Ireland Youths and Lansdowne number 8 Bryan McKeever.

Rainey Old Boys (3rd) v Bangor (8th), Hatrick Park

Rainey Old Boys will be disappointed they are not challenging for league honours tomorrow, but a third place finish and a promotion play-off trip to either Sligo or Navan (April 22) will extend their season by at least another week.

Considering the pitfalls along the way and a crippling injury list, Bangor have done really well to book their place in Division 2C for next season. Their recent 29-28 win at Midleton proved crucial for last year’s Round Robin winners.

Rainey have Bernard Mullan back from injury and Ulster Academy prop Tommy O’Hagan should be available, while Bangor, whose head coach Jason Morgan has signed a two-year contract extension, are already looking to build towards an improved 2017/18 campaign. 

Tullamore (4th) v Seapoint (6th), Spollanstown

Fourth-placed Tullamore cannot catch Rainey above them after going down 30-9 at Sligo. The Offaly men will be on their travels in next week’s play-offs, visiting Division 2B’s second-from-bottom side – either Skerries, City of Derry or Bective.

The fact that Seapoint are secure in sixth spot is testament to their turnaround in fortunes over the latter part of the season, as Eric Miller’s young guns embarked on an excellent run of five victories in six rounds.

When these sides met in September’s opening round, Tullamore lost their grip on a 14-point lead as, either side of Leon Martin’s dismissal, Ben Dyer’s maul try and a late pushover effort saw Seapoint prevail 22-18 on home soil.