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

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

UCC scrum half Andrew O'Mahony is pictured in action against Clontarf during their Energia All-Ireland League campaign in 2021/22 ©INPHO/Tom Maher

Two of the winning teams from the opening round, UCC and City of Armagh, clash in Cork as Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Division 1B continues to deliver some tasty early season ties.


Saturday, October 8

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

BANBRIDGE (8th) v OLD BELVEDERE (4th), Rifle Park

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Banbridge: L; Old Belvedere: W
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Banbridge: Points: James Humphreys 10; Tries: Ryan Emerson, Rob Lyttle, James Humphreys 1 each; Old Belvedere: Points: David Wilkinson 7; Tries: Jayden Beckett, Connor Owende, Kale Thatcher, Jamie McAleese, Ariel Robles 1 each

Preview: Banbridge have lost Rob Lyttle, a try scorer in Navan last Saturday, to the Ulster team. Conor Field and Cameron Millar will fill the wing berths, with Lyttle’s younger brother, Max, promoted to the second row.

Banbridge will have some Ulster talent for their maiden home outing – out-half James Humphreys and number 8 Greg Jones are both down to start. Old Belvedere lost twice to Bann last season, going down 18-13 at Rifle Park before Christmas.

Kiwi signings Jayden Beckett and Kale Thatcher both touched down during Belvedere’s 32-28 success against St. Mary’s during the opening round. Paddy Dowling to set to revert to the second row, while there could be a change at inside centre depending on fitness.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 11, 2021: Banbridge 18 Old Belvedere 13, Rifle Park; Saturday, January 15, 2022: Old Belvedere 22 Banbridge 31, Ollie Campbell Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Old Belvedere to win

BUCCANEERS (7th) v OLD WESLEY (1st), Dubarry Park

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Buccaneers: L; Old Wesley: W
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Buccaneers: Points: Michael Hanley 8; Tries: Josh O’Connor 1; Old Wesley: Points: Ian Cassidy 12; Tries: David Poff, Alex Molloy, Howard Noonan, Reuben Pim, Tommy O’Callaghan 1 each

Preview: Buccaneers entertain Old Wesley in an All-Ireland League clash for the first time in four years. After an impressive cameo up in Armagh, Connacht Academy graduate Shane Jennings will start at full-back for Buccs tomorrow.

Buccs head coach Eddie O’Sullivan, who gives a debut to explosive Tongan-born hooker Steveni Lombard, said: “The step up to Division 1B will test our resolve. We’re lucky to have young, highly-motivated players who have commitment and appetite for hard work so they will continue to improve.”

With only bumps and bruises, Old Wesley are able to retain the same matchday 23 from their opening bonus point victory over Naas. That includes Ian Cassidy, the division’s top scorer with 12 points, and Sam and Reuben Pim, sons of former Old Wesley and Leinster captain Chris Pim.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 20, 2018: Buccaneers 41 Old Wesley 14, Dubarry Park; Saturday, March 23, 2019: Old Wesley 29 Buccaneers 13, Energia Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Old Wesley to win

NAAS (10th) v HIGHFIELD (3rd), Forenaughts

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Naas: L; Highfield: W
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Naas: Points: Ryan Casey 5; Tries: Ryan Casey 1; Highfield: Points: Cian Bohane 10; Tries: Cian Bohane 2

Preview: News of Sean O’Brien’s signing for Naas certainly grabbed the headlines this week. Now it is back down to business as Johne Murphy’s men aim to bounce back from what turned out to be a heavy defeat to familiar foes Old Wesley.

There are quite a few changes, the much-travelled Connor Halpenny back at scrum half and first starts for new signings Mark McDermott and Henry Smith. Young hooker Nato Kiripati, son of Kolo, Peter King and Colm Gorry have been added to the pack.

Captain Dave O’Connell, prop Ian McCarthy and flanker Amhlaoibh Porter are the three changes in personnel for Highfield. Young flanker Porter has plenty of potential, his rugby development including a number of years playing in Christchurch and some game-time with the Crusaders Under-18s.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 16, 2021: Highfield 38 Naas 3, Woodleigh Park; Saturday, March 26, 2022: Naas 27 Highfield 22, Forenaughts

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Naas to win

ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (6th) v MALONE (9th), Templeville Road

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: St. Mary’s College: L; Malone: L
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – St. Mary’s College: Points: Liam Corcoran, Ronan Watters 5 each; Tries: Liam Corcoran, Ronan Watters 1 each; Malone: Points: David McMaster 5; Tries: David McMaster 1

Preview: The corresponding fixture last season will live long in the memory, an incredible 84-point contest that ebbed and flowed throughout. St. Mary’s led 28-7 at half-time, but Malone almost pinched the win and the Dubliners had to fight back for a share of the spoils.

Under new head coach Sean Cronin, Mary’s put in their own second half fight-back last week to earn two bonus points at Old Belvedere. Lock Harry MacDonald and Adam McEvoy are their two changes, the latter pairing up with Conor Hickey at half-back.

Malone have had an influx of youth with more than ten school leavers joining the squad. Looking at this year and beyond, head coach Josh Pentland said: “It’s been great to add so many young players to our squad. They have all exceeded expectations which will only benefit them and the club in the future.”

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 11, 2021: St. Mary’s College 42 Malone 42, Templeville Road; Saturday, January 15, 2022: Malone 17 St. Mary’s College 17, Gibson Park

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

UCC (2nd) v CITY OF ARMAGH (5th), the Mardyke

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: UCC: W; City of Armagh: W
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – UCC: Points: Daniel Squires 11; Tries: Sean Condon, Andrew O’Mahony, Aaron Quirke, Jack O’Sullivan, Rian O’Donoghue 1 each; City of Armagh: Points: Shea O’Brien 7; Tries: Frank Bradshaw-Ryan, Dylan Nelson, James McCormick 1 each

Preview: A first ever All-Ireland League meeting between these clubs. Winning starts for both last week, with UCC now getting to kick off their 150th anniversary celebrations in earnest with their opening home game of the campaign.

Cian Whooley swaps in for Aaron Quirke at out-half, while UCC’s two Ireland Under-19 call-ups, Sean Condon and Sean Edogbo, are both part of the matchday squad. Edogbo is on the bench along with Munster U-19 hooker Danny Sheahan.

City of Armagh are without Ulster duo James McCormick and Frank Bradshaw-Ryan, with the big lock set to make his provincial debut against the Ospreys. Kyle Faloon and Jack Hughes come into the Armagh back-line. Forwards Jack Treanor, Eoin O’Hagan and Barry Finn are promoted from the bench.

Recent League Meetings – N/A

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: UCC to win