All five clubs in the bottom half of Division 2B are back on home soil this week, as they look to open their win accounts in the Energia Men’s All-Ireland league.
ENERGIA MEN’S ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE – DIVISION 2B:
ROUND 2: Saturday, October 9
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
BALLINA (7th) v BLACKROCK COLLEGE (2nd), Heffernan Park
A late penalty miss from Darragh Whyte denied Ballina an opening win at Galwegians, although their three-try performance augurs well for the rest of the league campaign.
The pairing of Calum Quinn and Ronan Molloy are a real handful in midfield, but it is up front where JP Walsh’s Ballina will have to lay the groundwork against a solid Blackrock pack.
Chris Rolland, Paddy Cowhey and Killian O’Leary form a new back-three for Blackrock this week, with Josh Dixon also added to the back row. They won 23-3 when they made the trip to north Mayo in October 2019.
DUNGANNON (10th) v SLIGO (3rd), Stevenson Park
Dungannon felt they should have been a lot closer on the scoreboard against Greystones, an intercept try from winger Matthew Montgomery their only highlight on a frustrating first day out.
‘Gannon, who are holding the grand reopening on their clubhouse, last hosted Sligo in April 2019. The Connacht club came away with a 25-22 win thanks to Jack Keegan’s reliable boot.
Sligo’s new player-coach Josh Reeves, who enjoyed a winning start against Wanderers, said: “It’s one game at a time. It’s a tough league, there’s not a lot between the teams. If you do get on a winning streak, you’ve just got to really maintain as much consistency as possible.”
GALWAY CORINTHIANS (9th) v BELFAST HARLEQUINS (4th), Corinthian Park
Energia All-Ireland League rugby returns to Cloonacauneen for the first time in 19 months. A dose of home comforts should do the trick for Galway Corinthians after they were held try-less at Blackrock.
Ireland Under-20 international Cathal Forde, who is his second year with the Connacht Academy, has the potential to light up the Galway club’s back-line.
It was a confident start from Neil Doak’s Belfast Harlequins side against Malahide. Former Ulster out-half James McKinney was the player-of-the-match and their Daryl Marshall-led back row shone as a unit.
MALAHIDE (6th) v GREYSTONES (1st), Estuary Road
Malahide are looking to make home advantage count in this eagerly-awaited Leinster derby. Picking up two bonus points up in Belfast was an impressive return for Brendan Guilfoyle’s men.
They have a proud record to protect at Estuary Road, winning their last six league games there since losing 25-10 to Greystones in the 2019/20 season opener.
‘Stones look like they are going to make a similarly fast start this time around. Out-half Killian Marmion has already chalked up 14 points, with Danny Kenny and Ivanhoe Takatai both regularly making yards up front.
WANDERERS (8th) v GALWEGIANS (5th), Merrion Road
Wanderers face Connacht opposition for the second week running. They came home empty-handed from Sligo, despite an encouraging early try from former Lansdowne prop Shane Moynihan.
Young back rower Lucas Culliton, who has played for Connacht Eagles, is another notable addition to the Chaps squad. He continues his family’s link to the club, as his grandfather Gerry and father Ronnie both lined out for Wanderers.
Winger Darragh Kennedy, a former Galway minor footballer, is one to watch in the Galwegians team. He scored his first AIL try in last week’s victory over Ballina, on the back of a try-scoring cameo for the Connacht Development XV against Leinster.