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All-Ireland League: Division 2A Previews

All-Ireland League: Division 2A Previews

Cork bragging rights are on the line tonight when Highfield and Dolphin go head-to-head at Woodleigh Park, while new leaders Navan are on the road to Old Crescent, two team that know each other well from their battles in Division 2B last season.

ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE: DIVISION 2A: Saturday, October 27

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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Highfield (3rd) v Dolphin (9th), Woodleigh Park, tonight, 8pm

It will have been gnawing at Highfield that their last two league outings at Woodleigh Park have led to defeats, going down to City of Armagh in last April’s promotion play-offs and Queen’s University, most recently, in an 84-point thriller.

Dolphin returned to winning ways with a 26-21 success at home to Old Crescent, a much-needed result for Robbie Doyle’s young side. The added bite and atmosphere of a local derby are sure to see them raise their game that bit more.

However, Highfield are unlikely to give much away as they target their first home win of the league campaign. Luke Kingston switches to full-back with David O’Sullivan and Gavin O’Leary handed starts in the back-line, while USA international Paddy Ryan and Colm O’Sullivan fill front row berths and Kevin O’Leary gets the nod at blindside flanker.

Blackrock College (5th) v UL Bohemians (6th), Stradbrook

Having enjoyed two wins together in their first All-Ireland League double header last month, the Blackrock College Men’s and Women’s teams are hoping for similar outcomes when they host their UL Bohemians counterparts at Stradbrook (2.30pm and 5pm).

Number 8 Job Langbroek is back to full fitness and will captain ‘Rock for the first time this season. The other four changes see John Gallagher and Ben Mahon selected at full-back and inside centre respectively, with Conan Dunne and Gary Fenn added to the tight five.

Adrian Enright, who lines out on the left wing, is one of four changes made by UL Bohs boss Christy Neilan following their one-point loss to Nenagh Ormond. Prop Ian O’Connor and flankers James Ryan and Niall O’Shea complete the alterations.

Galwegians (10th) v Cashel (4th), Crowley Park

Ireland Under-19 international Hugh Lane will feature on the right wing for Galwegians, having gained valuable experience with Connacht Eagles during the Celtic Cup. Two more Eagles swoop back into the starting XV – centre Adi Donovan and prop Ryan Lomas.

Rory Gaffney continues at out-half in the place of the injured Morgan Codyre as winless ‘Wegians look to lift their spirits after a 35-point hammering by Queen’s. Cashel, on the other hand, are nicely positioned in fourth thanks to two wins and three bonus points.

The Tipperary men are on a revenge mission after their play-off hopes were dashed by a crushing 50-15 defeat in Glenina last April. Tommy Anglim will don the number 7 shirt in the only change in personnel. Ed Leamy, brother of Cashel head coach Denis, moves to the blindside berth.

Nenagh Ormond (8th) v Queen’s University (2nd), New Ormond Park

These clubs produced two hugely entertaining encounters last season, both won by the away side with Nenagh triumphing 37-31 at the Dub and Queen’s winning in similar style in Lisatunny (35-30). Those attending tomorrow’s rematch are guaranteed to see some tries.

Queen’s have reeled off 14 tries and 88 points in their last two matches, causing havoc for defenders. Nenagh’s conditioning will be thoroughly tested by the students’ exuberant attack which is marshalled by half-backs Ritchie McMaster and Conor McAuley.

John Healy, who almost captained Nenagh to promotion last season, comes into the side this week on the blindside. Another experienced campaigner back at the coalface is centre Willie Coffey, the second and final change in personnel. His inclusion sees Peter Coman switch to full-back. 

Old Crescent (7th) v Navan (1st), Rosbrien

The two promoted clubs from Division 2B go head-to-head, eager to find out who has made the better progress since last season. Old Crescent, who were stung 26-21 by Dolphin last time out, make four changes in personnel, including Larry Hanly’s return at centre and Argentinian newcomer Nahuel Dovalo’s selection at number 8.

Navan stand out as the only unbeaten team left in the division, and unsurprisingly, head coach Ray Moloney, himself a former Old Crescent player, is set to field an unchanged line-up. They saw off Blackrock by 20 points with strong-carry centre Riaan van der Vyver and scrum half Brian Haugh (44 points so far) wielding plenty of influence.

Crescent’s director of rugby Eugene McGovern told Irish Rugby TV: “We found the physicality (in the division) is a massive thing for us to come to terms with. We’re slowly but surely getting there, learning as we go. Navan are a really well-coached team and it’s going to be a big challenge for us.”