It’s round three of the Leinster League Division 1A this Saturday in Kilkenny and one of the highlights of the season, at least for the past two years has been the meeting of Kilkenny and Enniscorthy.
Kilkenny v Enniscorthy, 3pm Saturday
From their thrilling Towns Cup final in 2015 through the South East League warmup to their two league games last season, right through to the Towns Cup quarter final last year, the bottom line is it’s always a tough game, but a great game to boot.
Enniscorthy stormed the league last year with 12 wins from 14 including a 21-8 win over Kilkenny at Ross Road in October followed by a 10-7 win at Foulkstown in January. They missed out on the Towns Cup for 2016 and almost made it through the Round Robin stages chasing AIL glory for once more.
They’re already two wins from two, disposing of Dundalk (who beat Kilkenny last weekend) on day one before sticking 40 points past Ashbourne at Milltown House last weekend.
For Kilkenny, last weekend was a tricky game. Close in the first half before conditions gave way and Dundalk peeled off in the second half for a 20-0 win. Kilkenny were much better in the opening fixture against Monkstown albeit allowing two late tries, the wet conditions underfoot not really suiting Kilkenny’s play on the day.
Heart would say a win for Kilkenny here but when you look back at the stats, the results, and the overall size of the Wexford men, it would be tough to look past Enniscorthy here. Whatever way the wind blows, it’s sure to be a crunching game.
Saturday also sees Ashbourne and DLSP, both without wins so far, square off at Milltown House; there’s a good looking clash between Gorey and Dundalk in Clonattin while pacesetters Malahide have a tricky home tie against Monkstown at Estuary Road.
For Division 1B and 2A it’s the second round of games.
Carlow v Portarlington, Sunday 3pm
Yesterday we heard from Carlow president Justin Hannon about Carlow’s promotion hopes and club development, but on Sunday afternoon they’ll have a good test in facing Portarlington.
I was at the game last December when Carlow ran riot in a 38-0 shutout, Carlow making up for the opening day loss last season, Portarlington edging out the Oak Park men that day 30-25.
Carlow come into the game in mixed form between the South East League and Leinster League. Last weekend a losing bonus point was all that came back to Carlow as hosts Cill Dara took a three-point win (21-18) at Silken Thomas Park.
For their part, Portarlington claimed a narrow two-point win over 2A newcomers Longford (relegated from 1B last season) at Lea Road. The Laois men will be out to continue their good form, while Carlow will be out to make amends for last weekend and claim a win for their first league home game. Last year, this was the turning point for Carlow too – lose the first game, then hit a streak of four or five wins.
Given their most recent encounter, along with positive showings from Carlow’s backline, it should be a home victory on Sunday.
Also in 2A on Sunday, Railyway Union make the trip up to CPL Park to face Longford, basement side Roscrea welcome Cill Dara while early leaders Edenderry are on the road to Rosetown to face Newbridge.
Portlaoise v Tullow, 3pm Sunday
After a mixed 2015/16, Tullow got off to the best possible start last weekend with a 16-14 win over last season’s Provincial Towns Cup winners Wicklow.
Portlaoise gave Carlow a good run for their money in 1B last season, ultimately peeling away and gaining promotion to 1B while Tullow hung on to avoid the relegation playoff. This season, the men from Black Gates looked good in pre-season, looked good against Wicklow and that momentum may well be enough to get them over the line.
Portlaoise fell to North Kildare last weekend, the second time in the season (factoring in pre-season) after losing out by a try in the Hosie Cup back in August. They have an unbeaten home record spanning last season and there’s no doubt they’ll be looking to keep that going when Tullow arrive on Sunday.
This one will be a tight affair.
Elsewhere in 1B early leaders Clondalkin host Coolmine at Gordon Park Kingswood, North Kildare travel to Mullingar while Wicklow and Suttonians are both chasing wins with the sides meeting at Ashtown Lane.