Leinster pair Enniscorthy and Skerries, who have developed a considerable lead over the chasing pack, both end the calendar year with home fixtures in Energia All-Ireland League Division 2C.
ENERGIA ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE DIVISION 2C: Saturday, December 14
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
#EnergiaAILTry Of The Month has returned for the 2019/20 season. The competition is in its third year and entries are now open to tries scored in all divisions of the Men’s and Women’s Energia All-Ireland League. Click here for entry information.
Bruff (6th) v Tullamore (5th), Kilballyowen Park
Bruff and Tullamore are part of a clutch of seven clubs that are separated by just four points as we head towards the Christmas break. The Limerick men have lost three of their last four games, including an 18-13 defeat at Clonmel in round 8.
The Tulliers come hunting for their first away win of the season and they looked sharp in attack when dispatching Midleton 29-17 last Saturday. A second half brace from flanker Stephen Pyke got the job done, moving the Offaly men back into the top half of the table.
Bruff head coach Eoin Cahill will be targeting a strong start as they allowed Clonmel to go 10 points up early on last week. They did the double over Tullamore last season, winning 13-9 at Spollanstown and dominating March’s return fixture to take a comfortable 31-12 verdict.
Enniscorthy (1st) v Bangor (8th), Alcast Park
Losing at Bruff in the second round has been Enniscorthy’s only blip so far, with the Kieran Hurrell and Declan O’Brien-coached side putting together a six-match winning streak since then. Skerries are the only team within touching distance of them.
Back on home turf tomorrow after winning 43-17 at City of Derry, the league leaders restore Ben Kidd to the full-back berth, switch Richard Dunne to the right wing and there is a start too for Paddy Waters in the front row.
Bangor’s last two games have gone right down to the wire, including last Saturday’s morale-boosting 26-25 defeat of Omagh. Niue international Logan Norman produced a man-of-the-match display from full-back, helping to set up Zack Kerr’s match-winning try.
Midleton (10th) v City of Derry (9th), Towns Park
This basement battle has a lot riding on it, particularly from Midleton’s point of view as they look to close up a six-point gap on the two teams above them. It has been five rounds without a win for the east Cork outfit whose scoring average is just under 13 points.
Derry shipped over 40 points to Enniscorthy and they have defensive issues to iron out for this trip to Towns Park. Stephen Corr is a big loss from the back row, but the equally-experienced Richard Baird should be an able deputy in the number 8 role.
Derry boss Paul O’Kane commented: “We had to take the Enniscorthy result on the chin and come back stronger for it. I don’t think we are 40 points worse than Enniscorthy but with the lack of accuracy, we just kept getting caught and rugby can be a cruel sport as regards the score getting inflated pretty quickly.”
Omagh (3rd) v Sunday’s Well (7th), Thomas Mellon Playing Fields
Both of these clubs have bottled up the hurt of a very narrow reversal last week, Omagh being pipped by two points and Sunday’s Well going down by the minimum against Skerries. The Accies have missed out on wins despite scoring 24 points away from home in successive weeks.
Their only change in personnel tomorrow sees Scott Barr step up from the bench to fill the number 14 shirt. He could face off against Robert O’Keeffe who was in impressive try-scoring form last time out, albeit that the ‘Well fell agonisingly short of a comeback victory.
The ‘Well have not won outside of Cork since prevailing 15-12 at Belfast Harlequins in October of last year. Omagh are unbeaten in three clashes with Munster opposition so far this season, including a 13-all draw with Clonmel in the opening round.
Skerries (2nd) v Clonmel (4th), Holmpatrick
Holding firm to record a 13-12 success against the ‘Well, Skerries have now won five on the bounce. Hooker Con Marrey was their man-of-the-match in Cork, grabbing a crucial first half try from a lineout maul and putting in a huge shift in defence.
The recent completion of the Goats’ new 3G pitch is another step in the right direction as they chase automatic promotion. Clonmel have also put themselves in the mix, rising to fourth overall thanks to back-to-back victories over Midleton (21-6) and Bruff (18-13).
Skerries’ lone change for their final home match of 2019 sees Cormac Murphy come in at loosehead prop. David O’Gorman, a former Munster junior representative, is added to Clonmel’s front row as they also field an otherwise unchanged starting XV.