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

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

Enniscorthy are on the road to Malahide, aiming to end their losing start to the Division 2B campaign ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

The early season pacesetters, Galway Corinthians and Greystones, meet in the main event at the end of the first block of matches in Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Division 2B.


Saturday, October 15

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

BELFAST HARLEQUINS (3rd) v GALWEGIANS (10th), Deramore Park

Two teams at opposite ends of the table with nine points separating them. It was a deflating derby day for Galwegians, who lost 58-21 to Galway Corinthians. Their first league point remains frustratingly out of reach.

It is a big ask for the Blues to turn things around against Belfast Harlequins, albeit that their two losses to ‘Quins last season were not by much – 16-14 at home and then an 18-8 reversal at Deramore Park.

“We’ve had tricky encounters against Galwegians in the past,” said Harlequins winger James McConnell. “We’re under no illusions with how tough it will be. We will play our brand of rugby and hope that’s enough to get us over the line.”

DUNGANNON (5th) v WANDERERS (4th), Stevenson Park

Captain James McMahon’s injury-enforced absence is a setback for Dungannon heading into their second home game. Matthew Watt and David Leyburn come into the back row as part of a reshuffled pack.

There are also starts for James Gamble and Joel Stewart in the tight five, with John Russell taking over from Jack Weir at scrum half. ‘Gannon, who ran Greystones close last week, are just a point behind fourth-placed Wanderers.

Eoin Sheriff’s Wanderers side enjoyed the wide expanses of the Aviva Stadium’s main pitch. Former UCD winger Jamie Murphy’s 70-metre weaving run for the clinching try against Enniscorthy sums up how dangerous they can be from deep.

GALWAY CORINTHIANS (1st) v GREYSTONES (2nd), Corinthian Park

Only scoring difference separates Galway Corinthians from Greystones as the division is treated to its first top of the table clash of the season. Confidence is high in the Corinthians camp following their 10-try dismissal of city rivals Galwegians.

Full-back Finn McNulty, younger brother of Connacht’s Oran, and Connacht Academy hooker Eoin de Buitléar both scored hat-tricks in a free-scoring Galway derby. “The work-rate of our backs was off the charts, and our pack were good going forward,” said Corinthians boss Michael Harding.

Greystones beat Corinthians in last April’s promotion play-offs thanks to Killian Marmion’s late try. ‘Stones will need no reminding that they lost to the Galway outfit during the regular season, going down 33-21. Danny Kenny’s side expect their sternest test yet.

MALAHIDE (6th) v ENNISCORTHY (9th), Estuary Road

Malahide were promoted to Division 2B via the play-offs in 2019, and Enniscorthy achieved the same feat just last April. So this should be an intriguing contest as Enniscorthy face their third Leinster derby in as many rounds.

Declan O’Brien’s men look to be improving with each game, and their experience of playing at Irish Rugby HQ should certainly stand to them. Their lineout, under pressure at times, is an area that they can fix up.

Like Enniscorthy, Malahide have also played Wanderers but edged their way to an opening win. Captain Dan Hayes’ late try gave them a losing bonus point in Sligo, showing their battling qualities when the game looked beyond them.

SLIGO (7th) v RAINEY OLD BOYS (8th), Hamilton Park

A second successive home match for Sligo and a big test for their forwards as the Rainey eight certainly pack a punch. Daire Byrne drops to the bench with Ross Hickey coming in at number 8 and Donnacha Byrne switching to the blindside.

There are a couple of notable changes behind Sligo’s scrum, with Hubert Gilvarry reverting to half-back, Brendan Cunningham now positioned at full-back, and vice-captain Cal Goddard, a try scorer against Malahide, shifting across to the right wing.

There was a lot to admire about Rainey’s performance against Harlequins, which included Connor Smyth’s third try of the campaign and a fine performance from Ireland Under-19 call-up Mark Lee. The results should come for Ian McKinley’s charges.