Instonians certainly caught the eye with their bonus point-winning start last week. Last season’s beaten promotion play-off finalists Skerries, albeit with a number of new players on board, will provide a stern test for them this Saturday.
ENERGIA ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE MEN’S DIVISION 2C – ROUND 2:
Saturday, October 8
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
BANGOR (3rd) v BALLINA (7th), Upritchard Park
While Bangor got the result they wanted, it was a mixed bag of a performance against Sunday’s Well. The power of the scrummaging and the goal-kicking of full-back Rhys Larmour – he finished with 15 points – were the obvious positives.
Ballina outscored Skerries by three tries to two but coughed up too many penalties in a 29-21 home defeat. Still, the performance gives new director of rugby Joe McDonnell, and coaches Mickey Murphy and Aiden McNulty, a good starting point.
These clubs last played each other during the 2018/19 season, the Mayo side doing the double with a 14-12 home win followed by a 45-28 victory at Upritchard Park. However, the Seasiders should exact some revenge tomorrow.
MIDLETON (9th) v SUNDAY’S WELL (8th), Towns Park
It is Cork derby time in Division 2C as Midleton and Sunday’s Well both look to rebound from losing on the road last week. It was one win apiece last season, Midleton’s forward power providing decisive in a 14-6 triumph at Towns Park a year ago.
South African number 8 JB du Toit looks a very good addition for the Red Devils. His head-to-head battle with Sunday’s Well captain Conor O’Brien could be influential in terms of swaying the outcome.
The ‘Well’s player coach Denis Hurley, who started at outside centre against Bangor, will be targeting improvements in defence and discipline, especially with a place-kicker of the calibre of Midleton’s Stuart Lee in opposition.
OMAGH ACADEMICALS (6th) v CLONMEL (2nd), Thomas Mellon Playing Fields
After playing very well during the middle hour of their opening match against Bruff, Omagh left the result behind them. A dose of home comforts should lift their overall performance, and a strong start will be key.
Clonmel had a number of All-Ireland League debutants last week and local youngster Ross Slattery grasped his opportunity to impress. His half-back partnership with Czech international Albert Fronek will be one to watch.
Diarmuid Brannock, the former Leinster Under-18 Clubs lock, has joined Clonmel from Lansdowne. The Accies have promoted some homegrown talent into their senior squad, including Josh Kyle, Reece Braden and Jamie Matthews.
SKERRIES (4th) v INSTONIANS (1st), Holmpatrick
Skerries were not getting too carried away with their win in Ballina, especially with a number of new players still bedding into the squad. The scrum was a big positive, their new tighthead from Cork, Tom O’Donovan, making an early impact.
Table toppers after the first round, Instonians also have their feet planted firmly on the ground. Watch out for their well-drilled lineout maul with former Ulster Under-19 hooker Neil Saulters hoping to add to his brace of tries from the Tullamore game.
Looking forward to playing on the Goats’ 3G pitch, Inst director of rugby Clem Boyd said: “We’re just focused on what’s in front of us. Our first three away games are on artificial surfaces. We have trained on these artificial pitches and they suit our style of play.”
TULLAMORE (10th) v BRUFF (5th), Spollanstown
Tullamore went toe-to-toe with Instonians during the first half and were disappointed to be held scoreless after the break. Young wingers Sean McCabe (2) and Liam Farrell were quick to open their try accounts for the new season.
Top of the agenda for the Tulliers is curbing the influence of scrum half Paul Collins, who scored all 20 of Bruff’s points at home to Omagh. Kiwi centre Warren Loulanting could emerge as an important signing for the Limerick men.
Bruff lost the corresponding fixture in late January, going down 28-7 at Spollanstown. Since then they have won games at Clonmel and Skerries, but Tullamore are on a six-match unbeaten home run stretching back to last November.