Saturday 15 December 2018

Big test for Boyne to start new year


Graeme McQuillan’s return from Australia is a welcome boost for Boyne going into Saturday’s home game against Enniscorthy
Graeme McQuillan’s return from Australia is a welcome boost for Boyne going into Saturday’s home game against Enniscorthy

Marcus Cavaroli

Boyne return to action on Saturday after a five-week break and they will have to hit the ground running as they host title contenders Enniscorthy at Shamrock Lodge (2.30pm).

Graeme Eastwood's charges are in desperate need of points for a different reason as they bid to avoid being dragged into the relegation zone, but they take on an Enniscorthy side who lie second and are seeking their eighth consecutive league win.

The first game in that impressive run was a 36-0 trouncing of Boyne down in Wexford, but Eastwood believes his team will be a different proposition this week as they have home advantage and could be at full strength.

Last time out Boyne were well beaten on their travels, 27-3, by Enniscorthy's neighbours Gorey, but again Eastwood pointed to mitigating factors.

'We had four wins coming up to Christmas, with three bonus points, and should have got something out of the Gorey game as well, but we probably went down there thinking we were entitled to more than we got,' reflected the coach.

'A couple of refereeing decisions went against us that day and the scoreline didn't really reflect the game, but we have to forget about that disappointing result.

'We had one week off after that, but we've been training two or three nights a week for the last three weeks and had 30 guys there the day after St Stephen's Day.

'We're really looking forward to Enniscorthy coming to us. We were without five starters when we went down there, including Eoghan Duffy, and then one got injured in the warm-up and another after 20 minutes.

'Ciaran Smith has an ACC shoulder injury, but we're hoping he'll be back training this Tuesday and we've no other injuries, and we've centre Graeme McQuillan who has come back from Australia.

'So Enniscorthy will see a different side to us, so we can't wait for the game to come around, we will relish it and make it tough for them.'

Boyne occupy sixth position in the Leinster Division 1A table, just one point of the relegation play-off spot currently held by Wicklow, but there are small margins in this league and a win in Gorey would have catapulted the Drogheda men into fourth spot.

Nevertheless, with a trip to Dundalk on Saturday week and a home game against leaders Ashbourne to come after that, Boyne could be in the bottom two by the time they head into their last two league matches - home to DLSP and away to Wicklow.

Still, Eastwood isn't looking that far ahead and remains hopeful that his team can avoid a battle against the drop.

'As a coach I'm taking it one game at a time and Enniscorthy is definitely a game we've targeted, and then we were 20-7 up against Dundalk the last time and in control when we had a red card and they scored three late tries.'

Meanwhile, Boyne have been handed a tricky away assignment against Division 1B title contenders Kilkenny in the Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup first round. The tie will take place on Sunday January 21st with a 2.30pm kick-off.

•Division 3 joint leaders Ardee continue their push for promotion with an away game against Athboy this coming Sunday (2.30pm).

Drogheda Independent