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All-Ireland League: Division 2B Previews

All-Ireland League: Division 2B Previews

The front-running trio of MU Barnhall, Greystones and Sunday’s Well are all targeting their third win on the trot, while Skerries, Corinthians and Rainey Old Boys are hoping to break their duck before the first break in the Division 2B schedule.


Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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Corinthians (9th) v Sunday’s Well (3rd), Corinthian Park, 1pm

An earlier kick-off for Corinthians given that Connacht start at the Sportsground at 3pm. The Galway city club are justly proud of one of their own, 20-year-old Academy back Colm de Buitléar, who is poised to make his senior debut off the bench for the province.

It should act as inspiration to JP Cooney’s young Corinthians squad who have had a disappointing return of two defeats and only two tries scored so far. Sunday’s Well, the only Munster club in the division, have won two tight tussles to lie third overall.

Coaches Peter Scott and Anthony Horgan has knitted together a ‘Well team with plenty of potential, founded on a strong set piece and defence and some individual brilliance. Captain Cyprien Jouve reverts from the back row to outside centre today, with Eoin Geary returning at out-half alongside Peter Arigho.

Dungannon (7th) v Belfast Harlequins (6th), Stevenson Park

Defensive fixes are needed by Dungannon after leaking some costly tries in the first two rounds. They could be two from two now, but two late concessions saw them go down 33-25 to Sligo last Saturday. An Ulster derby should sharpen minds.

‘Gannon head coach Andy Hughes is boosted by the return this week of Conor McGeough, Andrew McPhillips and Richard McGregor, although winger Jordan McIlwaine (AC joint) is out for up to three weeks, and number 8 Jonah Mau’u is recovering from a head injury. Guilhem Lopez is set to move to the base of the scrum to cover for him.

Losing at home to Sunday’s Well was a setback for Harlequins, especially as their scrum gave away a crucial penalty try. ‘Quins have already beaten Dungannon 24-12 in Ulster this season and will definitely need to put away more of their chances – they are averaging just 13.5 points per game at present.

Greystones (2nd) v Rainey Old Boys (10th), Hatrick Park

Unforced errors really killed off Rainey Old Boys’ hopes of victory at home to Wanderers last Saturday. A second defeat leaves them bottom of the table and their former Ulster lock Tim Barker misses the trip to Greystones with a hamstring injury.

Returning South African hooker George Fritz will get up to speed and Rainey could really do with him recapturing his best form. Barker’s absence will see Michael McCusker, a try scorer in the Wanderers game, move into the second row to partner his brother John.

Greystones have gotten off to a cracking start and captain Andrew Kealy is bang in form with the boot, kicking 18 points against Corinthians – including a wind-assisted 60-metre penalty. Centres Con Callan and Ryan O’Loughlin return for the starting XV as ‘Stones aim to mark the 30th anniversary of their famous stand – it was opened by then-IRFU President Tom Kiernan on October 15, 1988 – with a winning performance.

MU Barnhall (1st) v Sligo (5th), Parsonstown

A third victory on the bounce would really cement MU Barmhall as one of the chief challengers for promotion. Tighthead Bryan de Carvalho and lock Nathan Veltom have been bumped up from the bench to start against Sligo, who bring in Jack Keegan on the left wing for his seasonal debut.

The Blue Bulls have been scoring for fun with their try tally currently standing at 14, of which speedy winger Conor Lacey has scored four and flanker Paul Nalty (3) and full-back Eoghain Quinn (2) are not far behind. 

Sligo need to stop Barnhall in their tracks and play the game on their terms, using their big ball carriers like Jason Havea, Rob Holian and Mata Fifita to wear the hosts down and keep it tight. Because if it becomes a tit-for-tat score-fest, the Kildare men will be obvious favourites.

Wanderers (4th) v Skerries (8th), Merrion Road

Spare a thought for Skerries who scored 44 points and six tries last week but still ended up on the losing side. Free-scoring MU Barnhall pipped them by five points in an absolute belter of a game. Defensive issues aside, the Goats’ attack is ticking along nicely with the division’s second best scoring return.

They will line up today with Lorcan Jones and Ross Dempsey in a midfield missing the talismanic figure of Mikey Sherlock. Kevin McGrath shifts to full-back with Eoghan Carron, who impressed off the bench against Barnhall with a late try to claim two bonus points, starting at scrum half.

Closing tries from Tom Walsh and Marty Ryan got the job done for Wanderers away to Rainey (26-12). Their confidence visibly grew through that second half performance. A first league run-out of the season at Merrion Road should see them make further progress. Full-back Evan Palmer and loosehead Ronan O’Mara come in as the two changes in personnel.