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All-Ireland League: Division 2A Previews

All-Ireland League: Division 2A Previews

Navan full-back Paddy Fox is pictured on his way to the try-line against Dolphin at Balreask Old last Saturday ©Navan RFC

Cashel and Navan are both on the road today in Division 2A’s final round, pressing for every point in the battle for a home semi-final. Elsewhere, Blackrock College and Queen’s University will warm up for their Easter Saturday play-offs with trips to Glenina and Rosbrien respectively.

ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE: DIVISION 2A: Saturday, April 13

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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Galwegians (10th) v Blackrock College (9th), Crowley Park, 1pm

An unusual scenario for both clubs with the result not affecting either’s league position on the last day. Galwegians already know they will be playing Division 2B rugby next season, while second-from-bottom Blackrock cannot catch Nenagh Ormond above them and are planning for next week’s play-offs.

‘Rock already know they will host Sligo in next Saturday’s promotion/relegation play-off semi-final. Win that and it will be either Greystones or Rainey Old Boys in the decider. They have to quickly put the disappointment of last week’s 23-all draw with Nenagh behind them and use this trip west to their benefit.

‘Wegians will be glad to see the back of the 2018/19 season, they had some very cruel luck with injuries and the bounce of the ball just did not go their way. Even last week against UL Bohemians, having fought valiantly through three yellow cards, they missed out on a match-winning penalty try from a last-minute collapsed maul.

Dolphin (7th) v Cashel (2nd), Irish Independent Park

Cashel need a result on the modified 3G pitch in Cork, otherwise Navan might pip them for home advantage in the promotion play-offs. Leading the Meath men by three points, Denis Leamy’s charges can wrap up a second-place finish against a Dolphin team that are clear of relegation trouble but licking the wounds.

The hosts were on the end of a 83-7 drubbing at Navan, James Vaughan scoring their only try when they were already 50 points in arrears. Dolphin had big issues at scrum time and it is an area Cashel will surely target, especially with their opening try in the 33-12 victory over Old Crescent coming from a set piece shove.

Injuries picked up by captain James Ryan and Tommy Anglim were a cause for concern, especially with fellow back rowers Ed Leamy and Michael Casey already sidelined with knocks. Jonty Rae and Darragh Lyons showed their class again in the penultimate round, scoring 18 points between them.

Highfield (1st) v UL Bohemians (5th), Woodleigh Park

It will be a momentous occasion as Highfield get to parade the Division 2A silverware in front of their own supporters. Tim Ryan’s men will wear special jerseys today bearing the name and logo of Marymount University Hospital & Hospice as a big fundraising effort by the club. Click here to make a donation.

The table-topping Corkmen will want to end the league season on a winning note after last week’s 24-17 reversal at the hands of Queen’s University. That result ended UL Bohemians’ hopes of catching Queen’s in fourth place, with the Red Robins noticeably struggling in the points-for column (335) compared to Queen’s (489).

Winger Oige Scannell and forwards Pauric Nesbitt and Ian Condell are Bohs’ three personnel changes for this Munster derby. It is four switches for Highfield who are set to start Luke Kingston at full-back after his Cara Cup trip with Munster ‘A’.  Shane O’Riordan, Michael Dillane and captain Fintan O’Sullivan also come in.

Nenagh Ormond (8th) v Navan (3rd), New Ormond Park

Navan head south to Lisatunny in their bid to overhaul Cashel, knowing that a win on a road may not be enough to book a home semi-final. They were in merciless mood against Dolphin, their 13-try haul including a hat-trick from number 8 Bryan ‘Big Mac’ McKeever to mark his 100th senior appearance for the club.

Navan’s player coach Ray Moloney is one of six personnel changes for the round 18 game, partnering Colm O’Reilly at half-back with Sean McEntagart and James McInerney also rejoining the back-line. Front rowers Brian McGovern and Shane Faulkner and flanker Ronan Meegan have earned starts up front.

With the divisional status secured after a tricky season, Nenagh have done well in the last two rounds with a win and a draw. Their 22-year-old captain John Healy has stood out in leading by deed. Dermot Dunne is handing the coaching reins back to returning head coach Ivan Muldoon in the summer.

Old Crescent (6th) v Queen’s University (4th), Rosbrien

Old Crescent have changed a third of their team for the final round visit of top-four finishers Queen’s. Guaranteed to finish sixth overall, a closing victory would see the Limerick club make it an even nine wins and nine losses, a year on from their runaway Division 2B title success.

Larry Hanly returns at outside centre with Shane Mullally reverting to the right wing and Cathal Monaghan now stationed at scrum half. Cathal O’Reilly and back rowers Karl Madden and Jack O’Neill are fresh in to a forward pack which includes versatile Tongan Tevita Toia in the second row.

For promotion-hunting Queen’s, Conor McAuley returns from injury to partner Robbie Johnston at half-back. David Swann and Andrew Weir are drafted into the front row, centre Conor Shiels and lock James Longwell are both promoted from the bench, and back rower Curtis Pollock, last year’s Dalriada School captain, is also expected to get some game-time after recent bench duty.