Eyeing up a return to the top four, Sligo play their second successive Connacht derby in Division 2B. Ballina, who are chasing their first win, are averaging 26.5 points per game.
ENERGIA MEN’S ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE – DIVISION 2B:
ROUND 5: Saturday, November 6
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
DUNGANNON (6th) v MALAHIDE (10th), Stevenson Park
If things go their way, Dungannon could find themselves in the top four come full-time tomorrow. Their home form has been excellent so far with two bonus point wins, but head coach Andy Hughes will not be underestimating Malahide.
The Dubliners will be in danger of getting cut adrift soon if they do not start turning things around. Leaking 40 points at home to Wanderers was a huge disappointment, especially having been in contention during the first half.
At least they got wingers Mick McGrath and Red Hansen on the scoresheet, and their threat out wide should cause problems for ‘Gannon. However, the Tyrone side look too strong in most other areas.
GALWEGIANS (9th) v BELFAST HARLEQUINS (3rd), Crowley Park
Belfast Harlequins are clearly enjoying their rugby at the minute, even if there have been some drama-filled finishes. Now they will want to right the wrongs of their most recent trip to Galway.
‘Quins were edged out by Corinthians a month ago, paying the price for a poor first half. Galwegians’ positives from their heavy defeat at Dungannon came in the final ten minutes with tries from Adam Lambkin and Ben McGuinness.
If they can continue where they left off and cut down on errors, the Blues have an attack that can punish lapses from Neil Doak’s men. ‘Quins have their Ireland Under-19 call-up, Jack Boal, starting at tighthead.
GREYSTONES (1st) v BLACKROCK COLLEGE (4th), Dr Hickey Park
Stung at home by Harlequins, Blackrock College begin the new month with a short spin down to Greystones. It is as daunting as they come in this division, with ‘Stones the only team in the country with the full 20 points.
‘Stones captain Killian Marmion continues to score heavily, incredibly accumulating 61 points already which is more than three of the other clubs have scored on their own across four rounds.
Watch out too their five-try winger Ferdia Kenny, who has touched down in each game so far. With Colm Gallagher and James Fennelly marked absent, Blackrock move Stephen McLaughlin and Chris Rolland to blindside flanker and full-back respectively.
SLIGO (5th) v BALLINA (7th), Hamilton Park
Picking up another provincial derby victory would be the ideal way to a cap off a week that saw Sligo sign a new three-year sponsorship deal with Porter Ford, the county’s main Ford-franchised car dealership.
Ballina have other ideas, a team desperately unlucky not to have a win on the board yet. They are out to avenge a 19-17 Connacht Senior League defeat from September, Sligo’s Euan Brown landing a last-gasp penalty.
If they can tighten up their defence, Ballina are certainly dangerous when the try-line is within reach. They have scored 16 tries, half of them coming from the combination of centre Calum Quinn (5) and hooker Billy McVann (3).
WANDERERS (2nd) v GALWAY CORINTHIANS (8th), Merrion Road
The second-highest scorers in the division entertain the lowest scoring team. Getting over the whitewash has been a problem for Galway Corinthians, although four tries in the last two rounds is a definite improvement.
Dylan Keane and Mark McDermott have been switching between out-half and full-back, but whoever leads the Corinthians back-line will need the Aaron Broderick-led forwards to front up against a big Wanderers pack.
When Eoin Sheriff’s men get on a roll, as seen in the last three rounds, it is very hard to stop them. Three bonus point successes on the trot, with Martin O’Neill, Conor McQuaid, Eoin O’Shaughnessy and Lucas Culliton earning the plaudits.