Domestic Club Rugby preview Sat 27th September 2014. By George Millar

9 minutes, 52 seconds Read

Competitive club rugby this weekend includes the Ulster Bank All Ireland League and the 1st round of the Millar McCall Wylie Junior Cup with
defending champions Ballynahinch seconds once again the team to beat. Three finals and the two wins in the last four seasons is a refelection of their dominance of the competition with the final to be staged at the new Kingspan stadium on Tuesday the 16th December 2014. After two opening roundsof the AIL, Div 1A and Div 1B Ulster clubs Ballynahinch, Ballymena, Malone and Belfast Harlequins have had mixed fortunes. Ballynahinch recorded an impressive 13 – 8 home win over last seasons runners up Old Belvedere after their opening day defeat at Terenure College. Ballymena and Galwegians confirmed their favourites tag for promotion winning both their matches. Malone suffered a narrow 29 – 25 defeat away to Galway Corinthians after a promising opening day win over Buccaneers. Belfast Harlequins lost 22 – 14 at Deramore in the Ulster derby after losing narrowly away to UL Bohemians 22 – 19. In fact Quins were the only team not to pick up a league point from the ten games in the two Divisions such was the closeness of the scorelines. The availability of Ulster players will be crucial for these top four Ulster teams if they are to compete for the playoff and promotion places in the face of player release to the clubs in the other three provinces.
In Div 1A Ballynahinch make the long journey to Cork to take on Cork Constitution who remain winless. With several changes anticipated due to the unavailability of Ulster players Stewart McCloskey and Rhaidri Murphy along with forward Jonny Madden. Coach Derek Suffern will have Ulster under 20 starlet Sam Arnold and the returning Michael Graham available for selection. Injuries continue to rule out Rodger McBurney and Chris Quinn. Two club players, prop Jonny Simpson and wing forward Paul Pritchard have been the outstanding players for Hinch in their two matches to date.

Div 1A. Kick off 2.30pm
Cork Constitution v Ballynahinch
Landsdowne v Clontarf
Old Belvedere v St Mary’s College
Terenure College v Young Munster
UCD v Dolphin

In Div 1B we have a Belfast derby with Malone hosting Belfast Harlequins at Gibson Park. Malone coach Jacque Benade will face a selection dilemma with seven Ulster under 19/20 players including Dane Fitzpatrick, Ross Todd, Rory Campbell, Michael Cartmill, Josh Bingham and Ciaran Joyce making themselves available for selection. Ulster under 20 star Adam Liddell is ruled out through injury. A win is crucial for the Cregagh Road side if they harbour ambitions of promotion. Quins need to starting picking up league points after two defeats. Coach Adam Larkin will have Ulster under 20 players Angelo Marcia, Josh Fullerton and Caleb Montgomery available for selection along with Ulster prop Ricky Lutton returning from injury. Frankie Taggart along with Ulster number 8 Sean Reidy and Oliver Loughead are expected to start in the back row with Mark McGrath and Evan Strang included. Injuries continue to limit player availability, that includes Rory Scholes, Matthew Rainey, Callum Leckey, Jas Andress, Mark Keyttle, Mark Wylie, Kenny McCombe, and Willy Stewart with Daryl Marshall unavailable. Both wingers Mark Glover and Matthew Holmes have been in good form. Difficult game to call with a large crowd expected to attend. Ballymena welcome Dublin Uni to Eaton Park. With the students having lost their opening two matches by one score the promotion ambitions of the Braid squad will be tested by a talented and physical team who gave ten debuts in their opening AIL game. Ballymena will have to do without the services of their Ulster trio of Mike McComish, Clive Ross and Ricky Andrew’s. Out half Ritchie McMaster remains out due to injury. Ulster under 20 Captain Michael Lagan is expected to start on the bench with forwards Willy McKay and James Gallagher added to the squad.

Div 1B. Kick off 2.30pm
Ballymena v Dublin Uni
Galwegians v UL Bohemians
Garryowen v Galway Corinthians
Malone v Belfast Harlequins
Shannon v Buccaneers

In Div 2A there were opening day wins for Banbridge and Rainey with Dungannon, City of Derry and Queens losing. With so much at stake in this division this season every point is crucial with promotion and a top ten placing the goals of the Ulster sides to remain in Div 2A. We have an intriguing Ulster derby at the Dub where Queens welcome Banbridge. The Bann side secured a vital opening day win with a b/p over Cashel 38 -28. The stars in this win were their threequarters of Adam Doherty, Adam Ervine and Jonny Porter who scored all four tries. Former Bann under 19 halfback Aaron Kennedy continues to impress contributing 18 pts from seven kicks. This win was based on a solid forward platform. The County Down side will not be overawed by the talent available to student coach Bob Young with eleven players returning from the Ulster under 19/20 squads. A disappointing loss at Thomond exposed the physicality required to compete at this level in the AIL for several of the students. Captain Ryan Clarke will look to the returning Nigel Simpson and Lorcan Dow along with Daryl Morton to give his side the physical presence to compete with a well organised Bann forward unit. Again this fixture should attract a large crowd with the talent on show by the students. Rainey make the journey to Dublin to play Seapoint. Coach Richard Boyd was delighted with his sides narrow win over the experienced City of Derry side last Sat. With a squad that contained ten players aged under 21 years there are few changes this week with the returning Angus Warwicker replacing the injured Timmy Woods in the back row. Centre Jody McMurray continues to Captain the team. Ulster under 19 players Andrew Shaw and Rory Squires returned to training this week. Rainey have been boosted by the news that promising Limavady Grammar School back rower Sam Mackey has joined the progressive Magherfelt club. City of Derry face a confident NUIM Barnhall side at Judges Road. The Kildare side recorded an emphatic 35 – 8 opening day win over relegated Blackrock College. Both these sides were in the promotion mix last season and expect another fiercely contested match. This is a match the North West side cannot afford to lose. Dungannon make the the first of two trips down South in consecutive weekends. First up is a diffcult assignment at Old Wesley who have strengthened their playing squad as they push for promotion this season. The Tyrone side face a difficult AIL campaign in this league.

Div 2A. kick off 2.30pm
Nenagh Ormond v Thomond. Played Friday 26th Sept with a 7.30pm kick off.
Blackrock College v Skerries
Cashel RFC v Naas
City of Derry v NUIM Barnhall
Old Wesley v Dungannon
Queens Uni v Banbridge
Seapoint v Rainey OB
UCC v Bective Rangers

In Div 2B Armagh will look to build on their impressive 13 – 7 win at Old Crescent when Navan RFC are the visitors to the Palace grounds. There is strength in depth in the playing squad available to coach Andy Hughesthis season. Despite the loss of out half Richard Reaney to Ballynahinch replacement outhalf Andy McGowan has ably filled this key position for the Orchard County side. Ulster’s other representative in this league Ards conceded ten tries in a 60 – 5 defeat at Sligo. A loss that does not augur well for the season. Visitors Bruff will present a stern challenge at Hamilton Park.

Div 2B. Kick off 2.30pm
Greystones v Wanderers
Ards v Bruff. This game has now been postponed due to the death of a playing member at Bruff.
Armagh v Navan RFC
DLSP v Richmond
Highfield v Old Crescent
Kanturk v Boyne
Midleton v Sligo
Sundays Well v Tullamore

In the Millar McCall Wylie Junior Cup Ulster’s four representatives in the All Ireland Junior Cup, Clogher Valley, CIYMS, Portadown and Bangor have received a bye. Due to an administrative error Grosvenor cannot enter the Junior Cup. Historically Queens seconds haven’t entered the Junior Cup due to the late return of Students. I understand this decision will be reviewed in light of the player pool now available at Queens. Current holders Ballynahinch seconds will be expected to progress at the expense of Lisburn when they travel to Blaris. Such is the strength in depth of the playing squad at Ballymacarn, seconds coaches Chris Parker and Neil Hinds will be able to field a strong side captained by the experienced James McBriar. Lisburn coach Mark Crothers has assembled an exciting young squad that will not be undaunted by the visit of the Cup holders. Academy host undefeated Instonians at Roughfort. There can be only one winner with the ease the Shaws bridge side have been sweeping aside their opponents this season. Ards seconds welcome a confident Carrick fergus 1st xv who surprised Coleraine 9 – 6 at Sandel Lodge in their opening league game in Q 2. Head coach Warren McClean along with assistant coaches Jonny Cullen and Neil Hanna are developing a squad that could be surprise contenders for league and Cup honours this season. Definetely one team to watch. Armagh seconds welcome Junior Cup finalists Ballyclare who have ambitions to revisit the Kingspan stadium again this season. Armagh have strength in depth and could pose problems at the Palace grounds for the County Antrim side. Ballyclare are expected to field the same side who were trounced 43 – 13 by CIYMS at Belmont last Sat. Expect a reaction from Chris Campbell’s side. Banbridge seconds like a number of the Senior clubs have expanded their playing squads this season. With home advantage Bann would be expected to progress at the expense of student side UUC. Belfast Harlequins seconds entertain Rainey OB seconds at Deramore Park. This match should tell us alot about the respective playing strengths in both clubs. City of Derry seconds welcome a Cooke side boosted by a 36 -26 win over Donaghadee last Sat. Expect a Cooke side under the guidance of player coach Colin Atkinson to progress to the second round. Coleraine have the experience in their playing squad to defeat Ballymena seconds at Sandel lodge. Expect another vociferous crowd to get behind the home side in this much anticipated cup tie. Ballymena have strength in depth and would be expected to progress to the second round. There is a North Down derby at Donaldson Park where Home side Donaghadee welcome neighbours Holywood. With the return of player coach Paul Mckenzie and Captain Nigel Barker to add experience to the Dee backline along with the robust Paul Hamilton at No 8 the Towns Cup finalists would be expected to progress at the expense of Laurence Kelly’s Kerr Park team. Holywood Captain Rory Eves is a player who can lead an upset. Dromore are strengthened by new second row Robert Greer from Ballynahinch. He will form a new second row partnership with the returning Gareth Fitzpatrick. In the absence of the injured Lee Steenson, Chris Jenks and Ryan Cobb with continue their partnership at 9 and 10. Randalstown have been decimated by injuries following their hard earned 23 – 8 win over Enniskillen last Sat. Malone seconds remain undefeated this season and will present a stern challenge for the ambitions of Enniskillen 1st xv at Gibson Park on Sat. In the final game the inform Omagh side host struggling Ballymoney at Mellon Park. With two impressive league wins over Holywood and Grosvenor, coach Phil Marshall makes a number of changes with Mark Millar replacing Jamie Sproule in the second row. Dean Porter returns to the back row in place of Andrew Ferguson and Yonga Taleni replaces Alan Heaney in the centre. Despite a disappointing start to the season, Ballymoney coach Jason Taggart is capable of upsetting the form book and plotting the downfall of this Omagh team.
In the Qualifying league we have a number of fixtures in Q 3 and 4.

Qualifying Three

Limavady v Newry
Lurgan v Ophir
Qualifying Four
BHSFP v Letterkenny.

Similar Posts