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All-Ireland League: Division 2A Previews

All-Ireland League: Division 2A Previews

Second-placed Cashel have a proud home record to protect when they tackle Nenagh Ormond in tonight’s hotly-anticipated Tipperary derby in Division 2A. Dolphin and Galwegians, who currently fill the bottom two spots, meet in Cork tomorrow with the visitors still chasing their first win.

ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE: DIVISION 2A: Saturday, November 3

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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Cashel (2nd) v Nenagh Ormond (6th), Spafield, tonight, 8pm

This season’s first edition of this enduring Tipperary derby sees Cashel aim for their fifth successive home win over Nenagh Ormond in as many seasons. Nenagh have lost 19-12, 15-3, 13-10 and 10-6 on their last four league visits to Spafield.

Four places and seven points currently separate the sides in the table, with Nenagh’s dramatic late 32-31 victory over Queen’s moving them within reach of the top four. Back rowers Roy Stanley and John Hayes are set to come in as the only two changes in personnel.

Cashel are brimming with confidence after their 43-point demolition of Galwegians, which boosted Kiwi full-back Jonty Rae’s tally to 41 points so far. As ever, the two duelling packs will have a big say, but there is plenty of match-winning spark at half-back where Darragh Lyons and Aidan Barron oppose Alex Ropeti and Nicky Irwin.

Dolphin (9th) v Galwegians (10th), Irish Independent Park

It has been a difficult introduction to the season for both clubs, particularly bottom side Galwegians who have been hampered by injuries and indiscipline. They now have the worst scoring differential (-100) across the five divisions, following their 43-0 home defeat to Cashel.

Brian McClearn’s charges are capable of much better and the 3G surface in Cork should prove to their liking. Tries have also been hard to come by for Dolphin who have relied on captain Daryl Foley’s left boot for 29 of their 51 points to date.

Dolphin did the double on ‘Wegians when they last met two seasons ago in Division 1B, triumphing 27-18 in Cork and earning a 29-23 victory at Crowley Park. If they can get off to a strong start, Foley and his team-mates should take the result here.

Navan (1st) v UL Bohemians (5th), Balreask Old

Will UL Bohemians be the team to stop Navan in their tracks? There were contrasting fortunes for these sides in the play-offs last season, with Bohs relegated from the second tier. Rising from Division 2B, Navan are currently on a six-match winning streak.

UL have shown how dangerous they are on the road with bonus point wins at Galwegians and Blackrock, scoring nine tries and 60 points in the process. After winning three games by 20-point margins, Navan came through their toughest test at Old Crescent thanks to Colm O’Reilly’s late penalty.

Former Navan captain Bryan McKeever made his return from injury in that 20-17 success at Rosbrien, setting an incredible milestone having now played in all five AIL divisions. UL will need big games from Colin Ryan and Harry Fleming in order to curb the influence of Navan’s midfield pair, Evan Dixon and Harry Hester.

Old Crescent (8th) v Highfield (3rd), Rosbrien

Old Crescent are hoping the start of a new month brings an upturn in their fortunes after three successive defeats, the last two by just five and three points respectively. Their back-three will need some minding with Brian Tuohy and Val McDermott already scoring six tries between them.

Third-placed Highfield won their Cork derby against Dolphin last week (29-12), with their own in-form winger Paul Stack matching McDermott’s four-try tally so far. Hooker Dan Healy and lock Dave O’Connell are due to come in as the two personnel changes tomorrow.

Tim Ryan’s men are returning to the scene of their 29-24 Munster Senior Cup second round win over Crescent in mid-September. They outscored the Limerick side by five tries to three that day, but needed an injury-time touchdown from replacement Eddie Earle to progress.

Queen’s University (4th) v Blackrock College (7th), Dub Lane

Fourth-placed Queen’s University have scored a whopping 22 tries in the opening four rounds, but narrow defeats to Old Crescent and Nenagh could come back to haunt them. Blackrock College have the same won two-lost two record, with their losses of the heavier variety.

‘Rock boss Mick Carroll has made four personnel changes to the side that went down 33-7 to UL Bohemians. Matt Dwan and Paddy Cowhey are paired together at centre with Ben Mahon moved to out-half, while Joe Byrne and Leo Vignon rejoin the tight five. Gary Fenn switches to number 8.

Some of the Queen’s backs have been in superb scoring form with scrum half Conor McAuley aiming for his fifth try in as many league games. Michael Orr, the ex-Portadown player, and Mark Keane, who won three Ireland Under-20 caps, have both touched down twice in their last two outings.