The derby of this weekend’s All Ireland League action takes place at Dubarry Park when an in-form Buccaneers host a struggling Galwegians on Saturday (2.30pm ).
Buccaneers enter the contest as firm favourites, riding high after notching their fourth victory with a 26- 3 win over UL Bohs last time out. Sitting in second place in division 1B, Buccaneers’ only loss this season was away to leaders Clontarf.
It is a turnaround in fortunes for the two Connacht clubs. While Galwegians were well in contention for a top-two spot last season, Buccaneers were the strugglers for long periods until four late wins on the trot ensured a comfortable finish.
This year the tide has turned and it is Galwegians who have failed to make an impression. One solitary win from their opening match against UL Bohemians sees the Galway city side in the uncomfortable place at the bottom of the table - only ahead of last-placed UCC on points difference. Their loss to division one newcomers Bruff at Crowley Park was a low point, and they will certainly have to lift their game if they are to get any points from Buccaneers.
Buccaneers’ new coach, South African Hendre Marnitz is certainly getting the best out of his squad this season, giving young up-and-coming players game time, and with Connacht’s Conor O’Loughlin, Aidan Wynne, Brian Touhy and Shane Monahan possibly available, there is plenty of experience.
Galwegians, too, may have some Connacht players available, but that will depend on Eric Elwood’s Connacht selection for their Edinburgh fixture.
Buccaneers are using the occasion to officially unveil its revamped first pitch with guests including IRFU president Caleb Powell, FAI president Paddy McCaul, Connacht Branch president Jim Foy, Connacht Rugby CEO Gerry Kelly and Connacht coach Eric Elwood.
In division 2 Corinthians will be looking to continue their table ascent when they are away to Dublin University. Currently in sixth place, Corinthians will need to continue their fine form to overcome the students at home. Dublin University are just three points behind, and while lacking the fire-power of their visitors, they boast a determined defence which has conceded fewer points. This should prove a closely-fought encounter, but if Corinthians are to continue their upward form, this is a game they need to win.
In division three Connemara, in desperate need for points, are at home to Suttonians. Both these sides are without a win this season, although the Dublin outfit has picked up two bonus points. Now is the time for Connemara to capitalise on home advantage and strike,