The second round in Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Division 2B is headlined by a mouth-watering Galway city derby, while Wanderers and Enniscorthy get the opportunity to play on the Aviva Stadium’s main pitch.
ENERGIA ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE MEN’S DIVISION 2B – ROUND 2:
Saturday, October 8
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
GALWEGIANS (10th) v GALWAY CORINTHIANS (4th), Crowley Park
Galwegians hit a roadblock in the second half at Dungannon, conceding three unanswered tries. There is nothing like a local derby to right the wrongs of a defeat, especially with it also being new head coach Brendan Guilfoyle’s first home league game.
Galway Corinthians lost their season opener in the Connacht Senior League to ‘Wegians, going down 12-7. Peter Rainsford scored late on from his own chip through, in response to the Blues’ two tries from MJ Duffy and second row Niall Murphy.
Corinthians will have learned a lot from last week’s tight victory over Rainey Old Boys, with new head coach Michael Harding explaining: “We are down about twelve from last year’s squad. There are a lot of young guys, 19 and 20-year-olds and some good AIL club guys that have come into the squad this season.”
GREYSTONES (3rd) v DUNGANNON (1st), Dr Hickey Park
Two of the victorious teams from the opening round meet by the County Wicklow coastline. Two tries from speedster Ferdia Kenny bookended Greystones’ bonus point win at Enniscorthy, with ex-Old Wesley hooker Robert Byrne featuring up front.
Dungannon lost both of their matches against ‘Stones last season, 34-8 away and 19-7 at home, but they got the Jonny Gillespie era off to an encouraging start last Saturday. Debutant full-back Ben McCaughey scored 13 points in a 33-7 takedown of Galwegians.
A player at the other end of his career is Dungannon’s evergreen prop Glenn Sinnamon. He is set to make his 250th AIL appearance tomorrow – a massive milestone achievement. He made his debut against Lansdowne in April 2003 as a 19-year-old.
RAINEY OLD BOYS (6th) v BELFAST HARLEQUINS (2nd), Hatrick Park
Rainey Old Boys returned home with two bonus points from their first round trip to Galway. It was a dynamic performance, particularly from a pack that contains captain Tommy O’Hagan, the three McCusker brothers and two-try number 8 Connor Smyth.
The forward battle will be worth the admission price alone as Belfast Harlequins have some heavy hitters. Their scrum went very well against Sligo, youngsters Zac Solomon and Cameron Doak making an impression with former Ulster and Connacht prop Paddy McAllister backing up from the bench.
Rainey won the clubs’ Ulster Rugby Premiership clash last month, prevailing 36-26 at Deramore Park. They do look a team that has plenty of tries in them, and home advantage points to the Magherafelt side repeating that result.
SLIGO (9th) v MALAHIDE (5th), Hamilton Park
Injuries will impact Sligo’s selection for round two, following their frustrating, try-less outing against Belfast Harlequins. Centre Jack Keegan (broken ribs) is definitely out, with other changes anticipated by head coach Paddy Pearson.
Malahide make the trip to Strandhill on a high after out-half Dave O’Halloran’s last-minute heroics to beat a highly-fancied Wanderers. Whether they can back up that result could reveal a lot about the Dubliners’ prospects for the season.
The presence of player coaches Dean Moore and Ben Woods on the pitch, along with former Terenure College forward Marc Kelly, gives Mals plenty of experience. A clutch of Old Belvedere players have also transferred across, including Harry Benner, a try scorer last week.
WANDERERS (7th) v ENNISCORTHY (8th), Aviva Stadium main pitch
This Leinster derby marks Wanderers’ traditional early-season runout at Irish Rugby HQ. From being promoted as Division 2C champions to playing on the Aviva Stadium’s main pitch, it has certainly been a whirlwind few months for Enniscorthy.
Greystones proved too strong for them last week, but there was enough in ‘Scorthy’s second half display to suggest they will find their feet in this division. Dublin University’s Seb Pim and Grant Palmer, an Ireland Under-19 call-up, are two of their new signings.
However, Eoin Sheriff’s Wanderers should have too much in the tank for them tomorrow. Creating more attacking chances for the likes of Mick McGrath, Jamie Murphy and Val McDermott – all newcomers to the club – will be vital.