Promotion-hunting Sligo and Bruff both visit the capital on a busy day in Ulster Bank League Division 2C, with the table-topping Yeats men looking to maintain their unbeaten run against second-from-bottom Seapoint.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 2C: Saturday, November 25
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
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Malahide (6th) v Bruff (4th), Estuary Road, 2pm
There is no doubt that Malahide’s best performances so far since coming up from the junior ranks have been at home, and they will be looking for another scalp at Estuary Road when Bruff pitch up this afternoon.
Both sides picked up losing bonus points last time out, with the Limerick men still in the top four and three points better off than Malahide. That could all change today, especially if Malahide wingers Dave Mongan and Marcus McAllister continue to sniff out tries.
However, after the opening seven rounds, Bruff boast the best defensive record in the league. Converting scoring chances into points has been a problem for Eoin Cahill’s men and they will need to be at their clinical best in order to bounce back from two narrow losses.
Seapoint (9th) v Sligo (1st), Kilbogget Park, 2pm
The league leaders visit Seapoint, and the south Dubliners need to make sure they come out of this game relatively unscathed with a crucial December double header with eighth-placed Tullamore on the horizon, as well as an early January rematch with bottom side Bective.
Eric Miller’s young guns were 29-8 losers at Bective last time out, and a repeat performance would see Sligo coast to victory. The unbeaten Yeats men defeated Galwegians 21-12 last week to qualify for the Connacht Senior Cup final (against Corinthians on December 16).
Ross Mannion’s dynamic side put 40 points on Tullamore the previous week, with props Kuba Wojtkowicz and Shane McGuinness getting in on the scoring act. Livewire scrum half Ryan Feehily is on the hunt for his fourth try in three games.
Bangor (3rd) v Bective Rangers (10th), Upritchard Park
It is a testing run-in to Christmas for Bangor who host Bective today, a team that is on a high after a big win over Seapoint, before tackling table toppers Sligo in the back-to-back fixtures which could make or break the Seasiders’ season.
It was a case of two points won rather than lost when Bangor drew 6-all with Omagh last time out. Changes this week see Lewis Bret move to out-half with Gareth Wright coming in at scrum half. Ross McCloskey moves to full-back with Chris Jordan returning from injury on the left wing.
November has been an encouraging month for Bective with five points pocketed against Tullamore and Seapoint. The challenge for them now is to win against teams in the top half of the table, something which coaches Nigel Osborne and Fergal Campion feel is well within their capabilities.
Midleton (7th) v Tullamore (8th), Towns Park
Midleton play the second of two successive home games in Division 2C, hoping to continue where they left off against Malahide where 13 unanswered second half points guided them to a 21-17 victory – the Red Devils’ first ‘W’ since the opening round of the season.
Captain Rob Smyth and strong-carrying back rower Michael ‘Yorkie’ Cronin have been two of Midleton’s standout performers in recent rounds. Tullamore make the trip on the back of a 40-22 reversal to Sligo, but they are tough competitors on the road with an average of 20.5 points scored in away matches so far.
The Offaly men did the double on Midleton last season, winning 14-10 at Spollanstown in early December and triumphing 25-7 in the return leg in east Cork. Second half tries from Kevin Browne, Darragh Lowry and Brian Gilligan did the damage in the second match.
Thomond (2nd) v Omagh (5th), Liam Fitzgerald Park
Omagh head south to Limerick for the second time this season, aiming for a repeat of their first round victory over Bruff. Phil Marshall’s men won by a single point that day and would gladly take a similar result against second-placed Thomond.
The Soda Cakes are gunning for their fourth straight win after claiming the derby spoils against Bruff thanks to centre Ger Finucane’s first half try. Limiting the opportunities for Finucane, nine-try winger Darragh O’Neill and promising out-half Evan Cusack is a must for the Accies.
Injuries have impacted Marshall’s selection with Jamie Sproule, who will be out for three months with a fractured fibula, Johnny Sproule (chest) and hooker Richard Hemphill all missing up front, while winger Neil Brown is out with a torn calf. Mervyn Edgar and Andrew Ferguson replace the Sproules in the second row, with Scott Elliott returning from injury and Yonga Taleni starting at inside centre.