Preview: Bank of Ireland Tom D’Arcy Cup second round
February 25, 2022 5:00 pm Site Editor
The Bank of Ireland Tom D’Arcy Cup second round will conclude on Saturday with five matches down for decision.
Last weekend, Tullamore and Tullow earned away wins at Portlaoise and Skerries, respectively, as the only two matches to survive the weather.
However, Skerries have been given a walkover based on an appeal around an unintentional breach of rules by Tullow.
In addition, Edenderry have had to concede to Athy due to an insufficient number of players.
County Carlow v Wicklow – Oak Park (12pm)
County Carlow play an expansive game that has been made more difficult by players coming in and out, due to other sports, leading to a struggle for consistency during the season.
Still, they won the South East Plate before Christmas and the squad is coming together to have a better understanding of each other and the overall game plan.
Captain Aaron Bolger was full-back on the Carlow minor team last year and he has played for South-East alongside Jody Doyle-Hutton.
Tighthead Paddy Rogers was another to play for the region, and with the Leinster U-18s last year.
Further, six of the U-17 squad have played for this year’s South-East team, namely Noah Cope, Tadgh Ronan, Jack Doyle, Brian Broderick, Cillian Moore and Cian Cashman, while Ewan Morrissey and James McGuirke also trained with the squad.
The majority of the Wicklow team has been playing together since the mini section, bonding to become close friends on and off the pitch.
They did really well in the first-half of the season, qualifying for the Leinster Premier League and winning the South-East League final, beating Tullow 14-12 in a pulsating match.
It is backboned by a strong pack of forwards, starting with a formidable front row squad of props Zak Callery, Jimmy O’Donnell and Kieran Hunter and hookers Liam Nicholson and Jack Nestor.
Michael Byrne and Jake Law provide a powerful engine room, while captain Niki Moelders won an Ireland Clubs cap against Italy in November.
The back division is marshalled by out-half Tom Hodgkinson, given momentum by Oisin Beirne and Darragh O’Murchu and a touch of class by Leinster U-19 Noah Sheridan.
Naas v Enniscorthy – Forenaughts (KO 12.30pm)
Naas come into this as the current holders from beating Navan in the pre-Covid 2019 final.
Head coach John Sheehan can call on six players who have represented Leinster in full-back Andrew Osborne, Leinster U-19 lock James O’Loughlin, centre Charlie Sheridan, wing Jack Sheridan, out-half Ethan Travers and Sean Tipper.
The versatile James Cosgrave captains from just about anywhere in the pack in a plan of action that favours a high-tempo expansive outlook.
It has been a difficult season for Enniscorthy, Covid’s impact stretching out the GAA season to hamper the first two months of rugby.
They have had enough good displays and results to build confidence as the players started to gel before Christmas.
Leinster U-19 second row James Doyle is the fulcrum of the forward pack as long as he can drop down from the AIL to help out. His brother Joe returned in November and has bedded in well in the centre.
Captain Ciaran Doyle and No 8 Lawrence Power have had a terrific season, the latter scoring at will as someone around whom the game plan revolves.
Sam Geraghty, Dylan Cooper and Ryan Gowler have been to the fore in the forwards too, while James Kaylita has moved from nine to 10 for a backline in which Oisin Cooney and Killian Doyle have provided threat.
Gorey v Dundalk – Clonnatin (KO 1.30pm)
Gorey have just six players in their final year of the youth ranks, with the remaining 26 available for the next year or even two.
Head coach Allan Cooper has been tasked with preparing the team. He has used the senior team’s training methods, calls, plays and structures, based around strong defence and a quick-striking attack.
Senior players Ryan Gibney, Eoin Walsh and Fergal Bolger have given a huge amount of their time and experience to this end and their support is very much appreciated.
The team is captained by flanker Joel Shanks, ably supported by prop Shay Guilfoyle.
Scrum-half Neil Byrne and back-five forward Tom Stokes have been playing with the South-East in the Shane Horgan Cup
The first half of the season was a real learning curve, reaching the semi-final of the South-East Cup, while gaining valuable experience in the Premier Division of the Leinster League.
Dundalk make no apologies for playing through their strength, which is a big, bruising, skilled pack, led out at prop by captain Jamie Rafferty.
The progress of key forwards in lock Fionn Duffy, a standout, hooker Lawrence Jones and No 8 Eoghan Staunton has come from how they have worked hard on both their physical and technical development.
When the time is right, out-half Conall O’Callaghan marshals a backline that has ambition in attack, playing through strong ball carriers in centres Deshawn Ighodaro and Luke Andrews-Walsh.
The Louth club has worked hard in implementing an attacking style in which their forwards draw in defenders in order to unleash genuine speed on the outside.
Wexford v Longford – Park Lane (1pm)
Wexford Wanderers have committed to a skilful, quick game in which their more explosive players are used to create momentum.
They are not inclined to step away from a more physical approach, realising there are different ways to win games.
Last July, Kaylem Codd, Luke O’Connor and Grant Palmer were named in the Leinster U-18 Club squad which went on to be crowned interprovincial kings.
In October, Grant Palmer was selected to start for the Ireland U-18 Clubs against Italy.
Out the back, Conor Fahy was selected for the U-17 South-East squad this season, captaining the region on more than one occasion.
Longford coach Danny McHugh has a mature squad of 28 to select from in which there are just seven U-17s.
In addition, it contains two sets of identical twins in the Boyles and the O’Rourkes to go beside captain Cormac Casey, at full-back, and pack leader Dan Rogan, a wing forward.
The squad trains and plays on the club’s new 4G pitch which encourages a fast-paced, expansive style of play.
This is not to be mistaken as a complete move away from the ingrained traditions of the club as one willing and able to stand its ground when the conditions demand.
Cill Dara v Mullingar – Silken Thomas Park (KO 12.30pm)
Perseverance through adversity has been Cill Dara’s motto all season.
The nine older players leftover from last season’s U-18s have taken on the leadership roles.
Despite a limited squad size, they have five on the North Midlands development squad in Ola McCullough, Oisin Bannon, Sam Ryan, Thomas Dunne and Eoin Clarke.
Clarke was involved in last summer’s Leinster Rugby U-18 Clubs squad and he has undertaken the captaincy with Bannon and Karl Downey stepping into great effect when needed.
The father and son coaching ticket of Paul and Calum McGrath has recently been assisted by Annabelle Finnegan, whose son Colin wears the number 10 shirt.
The team is slowly growing with the introduction of some novice players, who are on a quick learning curve, thanks to the guidance of the coaches and the other seasoned players.
Mullingar had the chance to see how their plan worked against Kilkenny in the first round.
They would have learned little the win in which centre Darragh McCormack struck for four tries and No 8 Jack Sweeney pounded out a hat-trick.
Hooker Matthew Bruton, second row Eddie Glass and flanker Ross Ashmore were always around the ball once play moved away from the set-piece.
Half-backs Dan O’Connor and David Williams were given a Rolls Royce ride through the game and were able to oil an attack in which centre Dylan Briody and wing Jack Ford caught the eye.