Galwegians return to the top flight of Irish domestic rugby on Saturday, and it could well be a baptism of fire as they host Cork Constitution at Crowley Park (2.30pm ).
It has taken several years for the Galway city club to return to division 1A of the Ulster Bank League, where perennial title chasers, such as Cork Con, Contarf, champions Lansdowne, and Young Munster, have dominated since the league's inception.
Galwegians have enjoyed a terrific run of form in the last two seasons, rising through two divisions to claim last year's 1B trophy. Matt Brown continues as head coach, assisted by Connacht's John Muldoon, and while ambitious, they will be looking for Galwegians to consolidate in the top echelon this year, and escape automatic relegation.
They have lost a number of players, Brian McClearn, Ross Fitzgerald, Ross Shaughnessy, Conor Lowndes Gary O'Brien, Colin Conroy and Matt Dever but have added Ed O'Keeffe, fullback Cormac Brennan, and a news hooker.
After a hammering by Buccaneerss in the Connacht Senior League, a stronger team saw off Conrithians and Sligo comfortably, but it will be difficult to gauge how the Crowley Park outfit will fare in the top flight this season. Cork Con, with their pedigree,
Buccaneers fly the flag in division 1B. Now coached by retired Connacht prop Brett Wilkinson, they have enjoyed a successful local Connacht campaign. Ambitious, they will be looking for promotion this season.
Corinthians have returned to division 2A after a surprise relegation last season. Having been close to promotion the previous year, they fell away in the second half of the season. Their ambitions must be an immediate return to division 1B.