All-Ireland League Preview.
By James Kirk.
Ballynahinch head back into the top division of club rugby in Ireland this weekend when Dublin outfit Terenure come to Ballymacarn Park for the first fixture in the AIL season. Division 1A promises to be a significant step up for the local outfit and they will hope for more success this time around after their previous 1A stint was marked by three years of firefighting at the lower end of the table followed by a relegation playoff defeat at the hands of Dublin University in May 2016.
Standards have risen across the leagues since than with high levels of coaching and analysis across the board. It took an excellent six game winning streak at the end of last season to gain promotion to Division 1A and there can be no doubt that a significant step up in terms of physicality and fitness will be required to compete with the traditional powerhouses of club rugby in Ireland like champions Cork Constitution and serial semi finalists Lansdowne and Clontarf.
Coach Brian McLaughlin and his team have been working hard over the summer to recruit players while Strength & Conditioning guru Glenn Kyle has been putting the players through a punishing fitness regime to ready them for the challenge ahead. John Donnan will captain the side from lock forward and local lads Aaron Cairns, Zack McCall and James Simpson will be hugely influential as the team tries to blend their Ulster players into the team and build a cohesive unit.
The lack of a local derby should not put off any casual rugby fan as the quality on show will be excellent. Home wins and bonus points away from home will be the formula as they look to avoid a relegation scramble. Expect many ups and downs over the course of the season. Pre-match lunch places are available. All support welcome.
Home fixtures 2019-20
October 5th vs Terenure
October 19th vs UCD
November 9th vs Lansdowne
December 7th vs Young Munster
January 11th vs Clontarf
February 15th vs Cork Constitution
February 22nd vs Dublin University
March 14th vs Garryowen
March 28th vs UCC