The Aviva Stadium’s main pitch will welcome back domestic club rugby to its hallowed turf when Wanderers entertain Dungannon in Energia Men’s All-Ireland League Division 2B.
ENERGIA MEN’S ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE – DIVISION 2B:
ROUND 3: Saturday, October 16
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
Belfast Harlequins (4th) v Ballina (6th), Deramore Park
Ballina are only a point outside of the top four despite their winless start. Blackrock was one that got away, but their attack is performing well with centre Calum Quinn already on four tries.
Belfast Harlequins left themselves with too much to do against Galway Corinthians, taking home a losing bonus point. With John Andress coaching and Paddy McAllister still on the field, it is no surprise that their scrummaging is a strong point.
Ballina will want to get a result to honour the sad passing of club legend Kay Heffernan, whose late husband Ivan was immortalised with the renaming of the club grounds as Heffernan Park.
Galwegians (9th) v Blackrock College (2nd), Crowley Park
Both Galwegians and Blackrock College will have been doing plenty of defensive drills this week after conceding a combined 82 points and 14 tries during round two.
It is early days for ‘Wegians’ new management, with head coach Ja Naughton saying: “I’m delighted to have Morgan Codyre and Anto Ryan on board with me. They are eager and are bringing some new fresh ideas to the group.”
Blackrock produced a much-improved second half, outscoring Ballina 22-10. Putting together a full 80-minute performance is the main target for James Blaney’s men, who have had three tries so far from captain Brian Colclough.
Greystones (1st) v Galway Corinthians (8th), Dr Hickey Park
The Greystones train has quickly picked up pace, their half-century against Malahide taking them to 84 points and 13 tries scored already. They hold a three-point lead at the summit.
‘Stones captain Killian Marmion has 32 points to his name, including three tries. He should have a good battle with Corinthians out-half Dylan Keane, who kicked them to victory against Belfast Harlequins.
Cian Huxford, who is back from a spell at Garryowen, and skipper Aaron Broderick are two key forwards for the Galway club. They won 20-17 on their last visit to Dr Hickey Park in February 2020.
Sligo (7th) v Malahide (10th), Hamilton Park
A dose of home comforts for Sligo after a second half to forget against Dungannon. Coughing up 26 points without reply was a bitter pill for Josh Reeves’ side to swallow.
Their skilful Scottish out-half Euan Brown has shown his accuracy with 50:22 kicks, and that could be a feature again when bottom-placed Malahide come calling.
Things have just not clicked yet for Brendan Guilfoyle’s Mals, who won 16-15 in Strandhill 21 months ago. No need to panic, though, as a condensed table means they are only three points behind third-placed Wanderers.
Wanderers (3rd) v Dungannon (5th), Aviva Stadium main pitch
Wanderers will give Dungannon the full Aviva Stadium experience when the teams take to the main pitch. They both warmed up for this headquarters battle with confidence-boosting wins.
Eoin Sheriff’s side ran in eight tries against Galwegians, the best of them coming from lock Mark O’Reilly who broke three tackles to run in a fine individual score.
Dungannon lost 29-24 to Wanderers in a cracking contest two years ago. Centre Sam Russell was in match-winning form against Sligo last Saturday, but the Dubliners’ back-line may prove too hot to handle.