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

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

Malahide's Daniel Hayes takes on the Blackrock defence during the sides' 10-try thriller at Estuary Road before the Christmas break ©INPHO/Ben Brady

The clash of Galwegians and Sligo doubles up as a Connacht Senior Cup quarter-final, as Energia All-Ireland League Division 2B returns for its first round of the New Year.

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

ROUND 10: Saturday, January 15

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

GALWEGIANS (10th) v SLIGO (6th), Crowley Park, 2pm

Important All-Ireland League points and a place in the Connacht Senior Cup’s last-four are both up for grabs, following an agreement between the two clubs and the Connacht Branch.

Eight successive losses have Galwegians bottom of the pile, with only one try scored in the last three rounds. They will look to captain Kieran Downey and Brian McSweeney to provide inspiration up front.

Sligo won the reserve fixture before Christmas, triumphing 29-8 on home turf with tries from Ryan Feehily, Guilherme Coghetto, Josh Reeves and Stefano Giantorno (2). Victory in Glenina could move them as high as second.

BALLINA (8th) v GALWAY CORINTHIANS (2nd), Heffernan Park

The second Connacht derby of the day as Ballina, who frustratingly missed out on last week’s Bateman Cup semi-final appearance due to Covid-19, look to turn the tables on high-flying Galway Corinthians.

Corinthians were in Connacht Senior Cup action last week – losing 31-7 away to Buccaneers  – but should be back closer to full strength as they attempt to follow up on last month’s 42-5 defeat of the Moy men. Bradley Nealon was Ballina’s only scorer.

JP Cooney’s Tribesmen are on a five-match winning run in the league, driven on by Cathal Forde, skipper Aaron Broderick and Ireland Under-20 hopeful Matthew Devine.

BELFAST HARLEQUINS (3rd) v DUNGANNON (7th), Deramore Park

Belfast Harlequins are gunning for a hat-trick of wins over Dungannon, following a pre-Christmas 26-6 success at Stevenson Park and last week’s 24-14 defeat of the Tyrone outfit in the Ulster Senior Cup.

‘Quins have also strengthened their coaching team with the addition of former Ulster and Ireland lock Dan Tuohy, who is looking after the lineout while assisting John Andress, the defence and breakdown coach.

Fortunes can change pretty quickly in the All-Ireland League, and ‘Gannon, whose last win was in early November. could do with a New Year fillip. They will need big performances tomorrow from Andrew McGregor, John Russell and Stephen Todd.

BLACKROCK COLLEGE (5th) v MALAHIDE (9th), Stradbrook

Anyone in attendance at Stradbrook should be in for a treat as these teams served up a tremendous 10-try encounter before the Christmas break. Malahide came from 16 points behind to draw 34-all.

Determined to pull clear of relegation trouble, Mals boss Brendan Guilfoyle told the Fingal Independent: “With three or four players coming back (from injury) for the next block of four games, we are going to push really hard to get our season back on track.”

Mid-table Blackrock will aim to not leave the door open for Malahide if they get off to a similarly strong start tomorrow. First half tries from Peter Quirke, Matthew Cosgrove and Colm Gallagher should have set them up for win number five.

GREYSTONES (1st) v WANDERERS (4th), Dr. Hickey Park

The Greystones players have had this fixture on their minds for a number of weeks after Wanderers ended the leaders’ eight-match winning streak, in a game that doubled up as the Leinster Senior League Shield decider.

‘Stones are still a full 10 points clear at the summit, and experienced campaigners like Andrew Kealy, captain Killian Marmion and Danny Kenny will have the team primed for a revenge mission against the Chaps.

Wanderers will be looking to get out of the traps quickly again, after early tries from Brian Vaughan and Geoff Mullan set the tone at Merrion Road. Their line speed and aggressive defending were also key factors in the result.