Boyne RFC hoping to get off to winning start against Richmond
EVEN A 74-9 pasting at the hands of NUIM Barnhall in their last home match hasn't stifled optimism in the Boyne camp ahead of their AIL opener against Richmond on Saturday next.
The game marks the competitive bow for new coach Mike Walls and he'll be keen to get off to a winning start, especially as Boyne have home advantage against one of the promoted clubs.
Their results in the Leinster Senior Shield have been poor as Walls adjusts to life in his role and juggles what is a pretty small squad.
Three major players from last year's panel – Bryan Croke, Ciaran Smith and Nico Vorster – have departed the club, while two other key men – Niall Kerbey and Brian Howell – are nursing injuries which could see them miss the start of the campaign.
The return to the club of forwards Dermot O'Neill and Conor Walsh and winger Conor McGann softens the blow somewhat, however, and Walls insists it's a realistic goal to match the achievements of predecessor Craig McGrath who led Boyne to a fifth-place finish last time.
'We've had three tough enough games and haven't had the results we were after, but the performances have been getting better, lads have been coming back and we're nearly back to full strength,' he said in the build-up to the Shamrock Lodge clash.
'I suppose the result against Barnhall was not expected – we were hoping to do a little bit better – but it did show us where we are.
'They got promoted out of our league, are quite a strong side and really punished us when they got the opportunity which was something we took out of the game.
'It's tough playing Munster teams and when we have them at home it's important we take the opportunity. Last year we had a very strong home record and I want our ground to be a difficult place to come to.
'Definitely it's a win-able game, but they will be confident after winning promotion and they'll be very strong, particularly up front, and we certainly won't be taking them lightly.'
As for setting goals for the team, Walls is setting the bar high, even though he's well aware that a couple of early defeats could force a rethink.
'The games come in batches of two, so we've done short-term planning rather than long-term goal-setting, but overall we want to improve and that's what we're about in terms of training,' said Walls.