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Energia Community Series: Men’s Conference 2 Previews

Energia Community Series: Men’s Conference 2 Previews

Colin Ryan touches down for UL Bohemians during their opening Energia Community Series win at home to Dolphin last Saturday ©UL Bohemian RFC

There are some exciting match-ups across the second-tier Conferences as the Energia Men’s Community Series reaches the third round. We preview the games in Leinster, Munster and Ulster.

ENERGIA COMMUNITY SERIES – THIRD ROUND: Saturday, October 10

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

LEINSTER CONFERENCE 2

Blackrock College (7th) v Navan (6th), Stradbrook

Match cancelled – 0-0. Both teams are awarded two points.

Greystones (3rd) v Wanderers (1st), Dr. Hickey Park

Greystones were satisfied with their performance against MU Barnhall but frustrated with the concession of two late tries. The 25-18 defeat moved them down to third in the table, with their best moments at Parsonstown seeing young winger Nick Quirk touch down twice at the end of pacy attacks.

Wanderers make the familiar trip to the Co. Wicklow coastline following a second well-crafted win over Tullamore (39-0). Rob Mullan, Geoff Mullan, Cian Doddy, Mikey Russell and Martin O’Neill shared out the tries, and the Chaps are excited to welcome back Kevin Dolan, Conor McQuaid, Cathal Martin and Conor Fenlon for their first Community Series appearances tomorrow.

The sides’ two Division 2B meetings last season were cracking contests, a Killian Marmion-inspired Greystones pipping Wanderers 31-29 at headquarters before Wanderers won February’s rematch 19-3 at Dr. Hickey Park, stringing together tries from Kieran Stokes, McQuaid and Aaron O’Callaghan.

Malahide (4th) v Tullamore (8th), Estuary Road

It is destination Dublin again for Tullamore this week, sevens days on from being well-beaten by Wanderers. Results may prove beyond them in the Energia Community Series, but Darin Claasen’s young guns will learn a lot from tackling teams from the higher divisions.

Malahide’s Jack Foley, who was playing Under-18 rugby just last year, made his mark from the left wing with two tries in Enniscorthy. 29-15 with a bonus point to boot was a business-like start from Brendan Guilfoyle’s men, who had John Shine and Mick McGrath in influential form.

Malahide and Tullamore have recent history in Division 2C, with a 76th minute penalty from Tulliers out-half Karl Dunne driving them to a 16-12 home win in December 2018. A few weeks later, flanker Shine scored one of the tries as Mals gained revenge with a 13-12 triumph.

Skerries (5th) v MU Barnhall (2nd), Holmpatrick

If facing a team two divisions above them wasn’t hard enough, Skerries go into this third round encounter without any Leinster Conference 2 experience. The Goats’ two games so far have suffered Covid-19 cancellations so this is a belated Community Series debut for them.

MU Barnhall got up and running last Saturday with a gritty 25-18 comeback victory over Greystones, storming home with their pack deciding the result right at the death. Second row Cathal Duff powered over for two late tries in as many minutes.

There will be live streams of this Division 2C-2A match-up on Skerries’ Facebook page and Barnhall’s new YouTube channel. There was an avalanche of tries and points when Barnhall last visited Holmpatrick in the league, winning 49-44 in Division 2B in September 2018.

Enniscorthy – Bye

MUNSTER CONFERENCE 2

Bruff (2nd) v Midleton (7th), Kilballyowen Park

Narrowly beaten by Clonmel on the road, Bruff return home to entertain bottom side Midleton. The Limerick club were hampered considerably by injuries the last day, but Kieran Bennett, with his second try of the competition, and Andrew O’Byrne, who has scored 27 points so far, continued their impressive form.

Midleton had a very tough time dealing with Nenagh Ormond’s pack last week, a five-try blitz just before half-time putting the result beyond doubt. They did battle on and register three tries of their own, with dogged displays from Stuart Lee, Bryan Moore and Luke Obersby, the former Munster Under-18 Schools lock.

Challenging for promotion from Division 2C in 2018/19, Bruff overcame Midleton 38-28 in a memorable play-off semi-final. It was a 10-try thriller at Towns Park where early scores from Cian Clifford, David O’Grady and Liam Treacy set the visitors on their way.

Nenagh Ormond (1st) v UL Bohemians (4th), New Ormond Park

Nenagh Ormond hold a four-point lead at the top of the table, a deserved reward for last Saturday’s ruthless 55-19 dismissal of Midleton. Nicky Irwin, who had promising youngster Conor McMahon alongside him at half-back, starred again with a slick solo try and some telling breaks.

However, this is their toughest test yet in the Community Series with UL Bohemians beating them twice in the league last season and also only a few weeks back in the Munster Senior Cup. They were tight enough verdicts in Division 2A last term, the Red Robins prevailing by 21-18 and 10-0 margins.

Last month’s cup tie finished in a convincing 31-12 success for Bohs on their all-weather home pitch. Along with a scrum-driven penalty try, UL had tries from Jamie McNamara, Joey Conway and Niall O’Shea, while string-pulling out-half Harry Byrne kicked nine points.

Sunday’s Well (6th) v Clonmel (5th), Irish Independent Park

Match cancelled – 0-0. Both teams are awarded two points.

Dolphin – Bye

ULSTER CONFERENCE 2

Bangor (4th) v Ballymena (6th), Upritchard Park

Taking on Division 2A outfit Ballymena in round three, Bangor are hoping to back up last week’s five-point victory over Omagh. They got plenty of reward from their strong scrummaging display with props Phil Whyte and James Leary earning the plaudits.

“We’ve got a great tight-knit group of boys and just getting back together as a collective has been massive for us,” said Bangor director of rugby Tom Rock, who has the cultured left boot of Ulster Academy product Mark Best to call on in his back-line.

If Ballymena go with the same team that was due to face Belfast Harlequins before a Covid-19 cancellation, Glenn Baillie and Ali Burke are set to return at scrum half and number 8 respectively. Andrew Ferguson and Phil Campbell show their versatility with positional switches in the pack.

City of Derry (3rd) v Belfast Harlequins (1st), Craig Thompson Stadium

Match cancelled – 0-0. Both teams are awarded two points.

Omagh Academicals (5th) v Dungannon (2nd), Thomas Mellon Playing Fields

Second row Jamie Sproule was singled out for ‘an outstanding performance’ by new Omagh head coach Glenn Kyle following their 17-12 defeat at Bangor. A lockdown situation prior to the game meant the Accies had little in the way of training behind them, so they should improve this week.

Kyle told the club website:

Our lineout functioned very well but Bangor did a lot of damage to us at scrum time. Our open play was really good, we had a lot of really good moves that came off and we were really happy with a lot of things that we did.”

Dungannon were very efficient in dispatching Ballymena 40-19 on the opening day. Their clash with City of Derry was cancelled, so a ‘Gannon back-line containing Jordan McIlwaine, Matthew Montgomery and Mark Faloon should be full of running tomorrow.

Energia Men’s Community Series – Fixtures/Results/Tables