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Ulster Bank League: Division 2A Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 2A Previews

Neil Doak’s high-flying Queen’s side have another Ulster derby to get their teeth into this afternoon, as they pay a visit to Ulster Senior Cup finalists City of Armagh, while the meeting of Munster rivals Highfield and Cashel should also be a cracking contest.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 2A: Saturday, November 25

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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Greystones (10th) v Malone (1st), Dr. Hickey Park, 2pm

Malone’s lead at the top has been cut to a single point following their first defeat of the campaign. It will be interesting to see how they bounce back, as they also suffered a setback last week in losing an Ulster Senior Cup semi-final to City of Armagh.

Young back rower Stuart Doddington could come into the equation after impressing against Armagh. Greystones have been contending in every game so far, but only have one win on the board – 17-13 at home to Galwegians.

‘Stones will have been drilled hard on scrums in advance of today’s encounter, having struggled in that area against Blackrock. Winger Jack Keating grabbed another try against ‘Rock, but the Cregagh Red Sox should have too much for their hosts, with Ulster’s Jack Owens, Joe Dunleavy and Peter Cooper all released for game-time.

City of Armagh (6th) v Queen’s University (3rd), Palace Grounds

The top four has been a tough nut to crack for City of Armagh this season, with three of their recent four defeats coming against fellow promotion-chasing sides. Another one visits the Palace Grounds today in the form of Queen’s, the conquerors of previously unbeaten Malone.

Armagh are buoyed by their qualification for the Ulster Senior Cup final. Ulster Under-19 player Evin Crummie comes in for his first start in a side missing John Faloon, captain Ali Birch and Peter Starrett. Robbie Faloon and James Hanna return to first team duty.

Queen’s terrific 20-11 victory at Malone was the fourth on their travels so far. Ulster Academy hooker Alexander Clarke and scrum half Jonny Stewart are both set to start this afternoon’s Ulster derby, and although Daniel Dass is a welcome addition at number 8, they will miss the sidelined Ritchie McMaster (concussion), Marc Campbell (knee) and Angus Curtis, who is out for several weeks with an ankle injury.

Corinthians (7th) v Blackrock College (9th), Corinthian Park

It has been a positive few weeks for Corinthians with seven points won in the last three rounds, as well as a place in next month’s Connacht Senior Cup final against Sligo. They have moved away from the bottom two but are still only four points clear of Blackrock, today’s visitors.

Ninth-placed ‘Rock have won two of their last four games, both at home to Armagh and Greystones. Their scrum was hugely influential against ‘Stones, so the onus is on front rowers Paul McSweeney, Gavin Bolger and Mark O’Brien to maintain that high standard.

Bob Casey, the former Blackrock, Leinster and Ireland lock, presented the matchday jerseys to the ‘Rock squad on Thursday. Head coach Mick Carroll explained: “The ‘Rock jersey has a huge history and a very bright future. I am trying to remind the players that they must earn the right to wear the jersey, and that someone will always be hungry to take it off them.”

Highfield (2nd) v Cashel (5th), Woodleigh Park

Highfield are back home following two successful trips to Nenagh and Armagh, which have kept them right on Malone’s heels at the summit. They scored nine tries across those two games, including braces from talismanic captain Miah Cronin and USA international Paddy Ryan.

Cashel are back up in the top half of the table thanks to their 10-6 derby triumph over Nenagh, during which full-back Eamon Connolly crossed for the only try. Denis Leamy’s men have already won at Blackrock and Queen’s this season and Highfield would be a prized scalp.

The Corkmen won last season’s corresponding fixture at the canter, scoring four second half tries to run out 31-7 winners, but it should be a lot closer in today’s rematch given the strides Cashel are making under young coach Leamy, who only turns 36 on Monday. 

Nenagh Ormond (4th) v Galwegians (8th), New Ormond Park

Nenagh Ormond head coach Ivan Muldoon and his brother, hooker Conor, come up against their former club when Galwegians travel south to Lisatunny. Muldoon’s charges are on a high after their historic Limerick Charity Cup final win over Garryowen last Friday, with Clayton Stewart’s 76th-minute penalty proving decisive.

Nenagh did lose ground last time out in the league, going down 10-6 to local rivals Cashel, while ‘Wegians, who started the season with a 26-19 victory at Cashel, are winless in the last four rounds. Their best result during that time was a low-scoring derby draw with Corinthians.

Current Nenagh boss Muldoon was Galwegians captain and his sibling Conor started in the front row when they defeated the Tipperary side 14-3 in the All-Ireland Cup almost nine years ago. Nenagh stalwart Derek Corcoran, who remains an important cog in the back-line, featured at full-back that day for the visitors.