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All-Ireland League: Division 2C Previews

All-Ireland League: Division 2C Previews

The final round of All-Ireland League Division 2C fixtures before this month’s break sees the leading three clubs on their travels, as Midleton, Ballina and Bruff head to Thomond, Seapoint and Bangor respectively.

ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE: DIVISION 2C: Saturday, November 10

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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Bangor (4th) v Bruff (3rd), Upritchard Park

Bangor, who have slipped to fourth, will be thankful for having a final game before mid-November break, given they were soundly beaten last week by Tullamore (27-0). Notably, today’s visitors Bruff won 13-9 when they played the midlanders at Spollanstown last month and are chasing a fifth win in a row.

Injuries have hampered Bangor’s selection of late, particularly the losses of young Kiwi scrum half Liam Preston and player-assistant coach Lewis Stevenson. But the pair have been pencilled in to start against the Limerick men and that could make a big difference, particularly in terms of second row Stevenson’s game management and lineout ability.

Unfortunately their back rower Stephen Moore is out for the rest of the season after suffering an ACL injury against City of Derry two weeks ago. It was no surprise to see three forwards score Bruff’s tries against Seapoint last Saturday. It is not all about the set piece platform, though, as the Limerick outfit’s handling skills and eye for a gap have been sharp.

Malahide (7th) v City of Derry (6th), Estuary Road

Malahide have looked much more like their old selves of late. But last week’s excellent away win over previously unbeaten leaders Midleton will count for little unless they follow up with a third victory on the trot this afternoon. City of Derry visit Estuary Road, looking to recapture their earlier form after back-to-back losses.

Two Ulster derbies did not go their way and Derry have to contend with a lengthy injury list, which includes Conall Gill, Paddy Blennerhassett, Richard Baird and Ian Bratton. Depending on Alex McDonnell’s fitness, backs coach Richard McCarter could start at out-half alongside Simon Logue who has shaken off a knock.

The predatory instincts of centre Rory Kavanagh and winger Marcus McAllister earned Malahide’s two crucial intercept tries in Cork. McAllister is picking up pace in the try-scoring stakes with four tries to date, and the Derry defence will have to keep close tabs on him as he chases his fifth score in as many games.

Omagh (5th) v Tullamore (10th), Thomas Mellon Playing Fields

Omagh will be wondering which Tullamore team will turn up – the one that struggled for a win during the opening four rounds, or the one that put 27 unanswered points on Bangor in a terrific performance at home last Saturday. Karl Dunne was central to that vital victory, kicking two penalties and two conversions and supplying the cross-field kick for Tom Gilligan’s 74th-minute try.

The Accies could have been much more comfortable winners at City of Derry. 19-10 was the final scoreline but Phil Marshall’s men spurned four try-scoring opportunities and had difficulties in the scrum. Scott Elliott comes in at out-half for Stuart Ballantine who is following the return-to-play protocols. The pack is unchanged with Kaine Holden continuing as Johnny Sproule’s second row partner.

The Tulliers won the corresponding fixture last season, triumphing 23-19 thanks to Ger Molloy and Lemeki Vaipulu’s first half tries and two Dunne penalties after the break. Omagh gained revenge in February with an 18-11 victory in the midlands, their three tries scored by Luke Hanson, Stewart Allen and Matthew Eccles.

Seapoint (8th) v Ballina (2nd), Kilbogget Park

It is third-from-bottom plays second at Kilbogget Park where Seapoint have claimed their only win so far – 24-7 against Tullamore a fortnight ago. Head coach Eric Miller has made four personnel changes to the team that lost 20-5 at Bruff, three of them in the pack.

Mark McDonald returns at loosehead prop and Zac Jungmann and Cian O’Gorman have been added to the back row, the latter making his first start of the season. The injured Tom O’Reilly makes way for Tom Kelly in midfield, while Dave O’Reilly shifts to the right wing.

Ballina put 35 points on Thomond seven days ago, and for their latest outing, coaches Dave Newman and JP Leonard have handed All-Ireland League debuts to Ireland Under-18 Schools out-half Dylan Prendergast and U-19 international Neal Moylett, who starts on the bench. Hooker Billy McVann is promoted from the bench to start, with Aiden McNulty in at lock.

Thomond (9th) v Midleton (1st), Liam Fitzgerald Park

Korey Brown, the ex-Young Munster winger, is one of two personnel changes to the Thomond team to host leaders Midleton. The Soda Cakes have slipped to four defeats on the bounce and are in serious need of a pick-me-up. Evan Cusack, captaining from out-half, has kept up his talismanic form with 66 points.

Midleton number 10 Stuart Lee stands on 50 points after kicking two penalties in their 14-6 defeat at home to Malahide. It is rare that the Red Devils are held try-less but the north Dubliners’ defence did just that. It ended their Kiwi centre Benji Cottle’s run of four tries in as many games.

For today’s Munster derby in Limerick, Midleton will field a freshened-up team showing five changes. Maurice Daly and Josh Deady line out on the right wing and at inside centre respectively, while Denis Broderick gets the nod in the second row and Charlie Murphy and Rob Carey are drafted into the back row.