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Energia Men’s All-Ireland League: Division 1B Previews

Energia Men’s All-Ireland League: Division 1B Previews

JJ O'Dea, who was in try-scoring form for Old Wesley against St. Mary's, will line out against his former club Navan this weekend ©Ken Richardson/Old Wesley RFC

Three of Saturday’s games in Energia Men’s All-Ireland League Division 1B will be live streamed on YouTube, including the much-anticipated meeting of leaders Highfield and Johne Murphy’s Naas.

ENERGIA MEN’S ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE – DIVISION 1B:

ROUND 3: Saturday, October 16

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

BANBRIDGE (9th) v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (8th), Rifle Park

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Banbridge: LL; St. Mary’s College: LL
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Banbridge: Points: Adam Doherty 15; Tries: Adam Doherty, Robin Sinton 1 each; St. Mary’s College: Points: Conor Dean 15; Tries: Niall Hurley, Conor Corcoran, Richie Halpin, Mark Fogarty 1 each

Preview: After leaking five tries to Shannon, a number of them self-inflicted, second-from-bottom Banbridge are hoping to arrest that trend of being their own worst enemy.

Bann head coach Mark McDowell explained: “We need to do more work on the attacking side, to try to retain control for that little bit longer and therefore increase pressure on the opposition rather than what we’re doing at the moment, which is putting pressure on ourselves.”

St. Mary’s, their round three visitors, were narrow 24-22 winners on their last trip to Rifle Park. A first victory of the current campaign is there for the taking for either side tomorrow.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 16, 2019: St. Mary’s College 16 Banbridge 10, Templeville Road; Saturday, February 22, 2020: Banbridge 22 St. Mary’s College 24, Rifle Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: St. Mary’s College to win

CITY OF ARMAGH (2nd) v SHANNON (4th), Palace Grounds

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: City of Armagh: WW; Shannon: LW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – City of Armagh: Points: Kyle Faloon 25; Tries: Shea O’Brien 2; Shannon: Points: John O’Sullivan 14; Tries: Aran Hehir, Jamie McGarry, Ikem Ugwueru, Jordan Prenderville, Jack O’Donnell, Alan Flannery, Aran Hehir, Daniel Okeke 1 each

Preview: It has been a business-like start from City of Armagh, beating Banbridge by 10 points and Old Belvedere by 14. Home advantage could prove important again when they host Shannon.

Armagh head coach Chris Parker said: “Having such a large and vociferous support really helped the squad last week. We still have areas to improve on and we’ll have to raise our game against an impressive Shannon side.”

Shannon have a potent back-three, with Jamie McGarry, Ikem Ugwueru and Jack O’Donnell all touching down in the first two rounds. Armagh’s pacy centre Shea O’Brien has two tries in two games.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 9, 2019: Shannon 26 City of Armagh 14, Thomond Park back pitch; Saturday, February 29, 2020: City of Armagh 18 Shannon 0, Palace Grounds

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: City of Armagh to win

HIGHFIELD (1st) v NAAS (5th), Woodleigh Park

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Highfield: WW; Naas: LW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Highfield: Points: James Taylor 23; Tries: Miah Cronin, Paul Stack 2 each; Naas: Points: Peter Osborne 31; Tries: Bryan Croke, Peter Osborne 2 each

Preview: Highfield’s first game against Naas in two years will be livestreamed on YouTube. It will give greater exposure to their dynamic back row of Miah Cronin, Ronan O’Sullivan and new signing Ryan Murphy.

One of the Cork club’s other newcomers, out-half James Taylor, will be eager to curb the influence of Naas’ prolific full-back and captain Peter Osborne, who starred with 26 points last week against Malone.

An absent Fionn Higgins is replaced by Sam Cahill on Naas’ left wing tomorrow. Paul Monahan and Leinster-capped prop Adam Coyle got the plaudits for their efforts up front in round two, and the Cobras will need more of the same on Leeside.

Recent League Meeting – Saturday, October 19, 2019: Highfield 38 Naas 20, Woodleigh Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Highfield to win

OLD BELVEDERE (7th) v MALONE (6th), Ollie Campbell Park

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Old Belvedere: WL; Malone: WL
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Old Belvedere: Points: Justin Leonard 19; Tries: Billy O’Hora, Paddy Dowling, James McKeown 1 each; Malone: Points: Rory Campbell 24; Tries: Dave Cave, Claytan Milligan, Aaron Sexton, Sean Lynch, David McMaster, Stewart McKendrick 1 each

Preview: Old Belvedere’s clash with Malone will also be available watch live on the club’s YouTube channel. The teams are only separated by points difference in the table, following an up-and-down first fortnight.

Belvedere freshen up their line-up with four changes in all. Former Trinity and Clontarf winger Ariel Robles, Briain Leonard and forwards Ryan McMahon and Jack Breen are all handed starts.

Malone were not far off winning at ‘Belvo in November 2019, losing out 26-21. They could turn that result around if they can show greater composure this week and get the best out of Ulster’s Aaron Sexton.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 16, 2019: Old Belvedere 26 Malone 21, Ollie Campbell Park; Saturday, February 22, 2020: Malone 21 Old Belvedere 16, Gibson Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Old Belvedere to win

OLD WESLEY (3rd) v NAVAN (10th), Energia Park, 4.30pm

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Old Wesley: WW; Navan: LL
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Old Wesley: Points: Josh Miller 18; Tries: Alastair Hoban, Jack Costigan, Eoin Deegan, James O’Donovan, JJ O’Dea 1 each; Navan: Points: Liam McLoughlin 14; Tries: Sean McEntagart, Evan Dixon, Jack Nelson, Hardus van Eeden 1 each

Preview: Old Wesley had two big winning margins against Navan in 2019/20, but the Meath men – with new Kiwi hooker Jack Nelson impressing – are capable of ensuring this YouTube-live streamed contest is much closer.

Wesley showed their battling qualities to edge out St. Mary’s 20-18, aided by a barnstorming display from Ireland Club XV lock JJ O’Dea, who hails from Navan and first came to prominence in their underage ranks.

It should be an extra special occasion for Old Wesley President Nigel Poff and his Navan counterpart Rosi Meegan, as Nigel’s son David plays in the centre for Wesley, while Rosi’s son Ronan is part of the Navan squad.

Recent League Meetings – Thursday, December 19, 2019: Old Wesley 38 Navan 15, Energia Park; Saturday, February 29, 2020: Navan 5 Old Wesley 33, Balreask Old

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Old Wesley to win