Energia All-Ireland League: Men’s Division 2B Previews
There have been a number of coaching changes in Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Division 2B, adding another layer of intrigue to some of the first round clashes on Saturday. ENERGIA ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE MEN’S DIVISION 2B – ROUND 1: Saturday, October 1 Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated – BELFAST HARLEQUINS v SLIGO, Deramore Park Belfast Harlequins head coach John Andress has overseen an influx of youth across the summer months, with the new arrivals at Deramore Park including Cameron Doak, younger brother of Ulster starlet Nathan, and Ulster Under-19 captain Zac Solomon. Ahead of the league opener against Sligo, ‘Quins out-half Paul Kerr said: “The boys are looking forward to getting back into the AIL against a physical side. It’s vital we get off to a winning start, playing with tempo and taking our chances.” Following Josh Reeves’ appointment as Brazil’s director of rugby, New Zealander Paddy Pearson is back for another spell as Sligo’s head coach. Euan Brown and Kuba Wojtkowicz stood out in them against Buccaneers in the recent Connacht Senior League decider. DUNGANNON v GALWEGIANS, Stevenson Park Two new head coaches at the helm here as Dungannon entertain a Galwegians team that narrowly avoided relegation last April. Jonny Gillespie is now in charge at Stevenson Park, assisted by Jonny Patton and Jonny Graham. Last week’s 45-19 defeat to Instonians would have knocked ‘Gannon’s confidence a bit, but they did win their previous three Ulster Rugby Premiership games. James McMahon, Andrew McGregor and Matthew Montgomery remain key players. Brendan Guilfoyle heads up Galwegians’ new coaching team which includes Shane O’Brien, who has also ventured west from Malahide, and Connacht back rower Jarrad Butler. “I believe we have everything we need to be in the fight for promotion at the end of the season,” said defence coach Butler. ENNISCORTHY v GREYSTONES, Alcast Park There are two more Division 2B coaching debuts for Laois man Brett Igoe, who has taken the reins at promoted club Enniscorthy, and player coach Danny Kenny who replaces the long-serving Kevin Lewis in the Greystones hot seat. 32-year-old former Connacht prop Stewart Maguire is now on board with ‘Stones as a player/forwards coach. Eoin Marmion, who succeeds his brother Killian as captain, said: “We’d like to rectify what happened last year (in the play-offs) and go up into the league above.” Igoe is in charge of a talented and ambitious Enniscorthy squad, although there are big boots to fill with veteran players Ivan Poole and Ivan Jacob both having retired. Lynchpin number 8 Timmy Morrissey has been appointed captain. GALWAY CORINTHIANS v RAINEY OLD BOYS, Corinthian Park Tipperary native Michael Harding is Galway Corinthians’ head coach for their fourth successive season in Division 2B. Their promotion bid fell short at the semi-final stage last April, but Harding feels they have ‘built a squad that can take us to the next level’. Pat Cunningham has come back from Creggs to assist Harding as forwards coach, their pack led by former Connacht Academy back rower Cian Huxford. Belmullet prop Fiachna Barrett has been gaining experience with Connacht Eagles. Rainey Old Boys are determined to put last season’s relegation behind them. Ex-Ulster lock Tim Barker is now part of their coaching ticket, while young Kiwi full-back Moli Faiva, who has already get amongst the tries, is an exciting signing. MALAHIDE v WANDERERS, Estuary Road A Dublin derby that should be a lot closer than last season’s meetings, which Wanderers won by 30 points on both occasions. Malahide look in better shape this year with Ray Monaghan, their new director of rugby, back at the club. Captain Dan Hayes feels that Monaghan’s ‘vision for Malahide for the next few years will be transformational’. They certainly have a solid coaching base and will benefit doubly from Ben Woods and Dean Moore as player coaches. One of Malahide’s former players, Mick McGrath, could face them this weekend. He helped Wanderers to win the Leinster Senior League Division 2 title. Fergus McFadden is now assisting Eoin Sheriff, looking after the Chaps’ back-line.