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Energia Men’s All-Ireland League: Division 2A Previews

Energia Men’s All-Ireland League: Division 2A Previews

MU Barnhall are joint-top of the Division 2A table, level on points with Queen's University ©Christine Taylor/MU Barnhall RFC

In the match of the round in Energia Men’s All-Ireland League Division 2A, Brian Scott’s Dolphin head to Belfast to face fellow unbeaten team, table-topping Queen’s University.

ENERGIA MEN’S ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE – DIVISION 2A:

ROUND 3: Saturday, October 16

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

UL Bohemians (10th) v Cashel (7th), UL Arena, tonight, 8pm

It has been a slow start for Tommy O’Donnell’s UL Bohemians, who have only scored one try in two games. Their scrum is boosted by the presence of South African Connor Botha, the former Sharks Under-21 hooker.

It has been a stop-start couple of weeks for Cashel, whose derby clash with Nenagh Ormond was a Covid-19 cancellation. Full-back Stephen McMahon is their top scorer with nine points.

Another close encounter is anticipated, with UL Bohs winning 28-24 when the teams last met in the league in January 2020. Jamie McNamara’s intercept try secured the spoils for Bohs.

Ballymena (5th) v Old Crescent (9th), Eaton Park

Having climbed into the top half of the table, Ballymena are eager to make it back-to-back home wins. However, they will have to do it without last week’s player-of-the-match, Tim Small, who is unavailable.

Ross McKay deputises for him at out-half, while Chris Cundell and Pierce Crowe return at tighthead prop and inside centre respectively. In-form hooker James McCormick is chasing his sixth try.

It is Ulster opposition again for Old Crescent after last week’s 40-21 home defeat to Queen’s University. Elusive winger Jack O’Mahony is hoping to score for the third game running.

Buccaneers (4th) v Nenagh Ormond (8th), Dubarry Park

After last week’s cancellation, Nenagh Ormond are back in action with a tricky trip to fourth-placed Buccaneers. As well as league points, the John McCormack Memorial Cup is also on the line.

Buccs cannot afford a repeat of their poor start in the Ballymena game. The positives certainly outweigh the negatives, though, with young players like Ruaidhri Fallon, Declan Adamson and James Kelly impressing.

Nenagh are always a tough nut to crack up front, where brothers John and Kevin O’Flaherty combine at lock and Conor Muldoon is part of the front row ranks. Fionn McGibney and Nicky Irwin bring experiences from higher divisions at half-back.

Queen’s University (1st) v Dolphin (3rd), Dub Lane

An intriguing clash here as leaders Queen’s University host a Dolphin side rejuvenated under a new coaching team. This is a first trip outside of Munster for Brian Scott’s charges, who have only conceded 19 points so far.

Queen’s have knifed through for some excellent tries so far. They have some great finishers out wide, but the pack possesses star quality too in captain David Whitten, Conor McMenamin and Gary Dillon.

As expected, ex-Munster prop Scott has Dolphin’s scrum and maul performing well. They showed their running threat against Rainey, and scrum half Daryl Foley, who is on 31 points after two rounds, is a fine kicker.

Rainey Old Boys (6th) v MU Barnhall (2nd), Hatrick Park

Having gone down heavily to Dolphin, Rainey Old Boys are fired up to put their best foot forward against second-placed MU Barnhall, whom they beat 23-15 in the corresponding fixture in 2020.

Rainey’s director of rugby Brian Smyth commented: “We have a few injuries but we’re certainly expecting a big response from the boys, especially after last week’s loss and poor performance in the final quarter against Dolphin.”

Barnhall have a spread of nine different try scorers, led by winger Conor Lacey who touched down twice during the opening two rounds. The front rowers, including Gareth Murray who has over 180 AIL appearances, are also getting in on the act.