Saturday 20 January 2018

New season kicks off for clubs

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Daragh Small

Reigning Division 1B champions Buccaneers begin their campaign in the top tier with a tough game at home against Lansdowne at Dubarry Park tomorrow.

The season kicks off for all of the Connacht clubs tomorrow, where the Athlone outfit host the two-time winners who claimed the Division 1A crown as recently as 2014-15.

Lansdowne finished top in 1A last season with 11 wins from their 18 games before they were shocked by eventual champions Cork Con in the semi-final.

But Buccaneers come into 2017-18 full of confidence after a stellar campaign and the new management team of Darin Claasen and Mike McCarthy will be hoping for the perfect start to their reign.

In Division 2A both Connacht sides have difficult opening assignments, with Galwegians travelling to take on Cashel at Spafield. Corinthians welcome Queen's University to Corinthian Park.

Galwegians have had two treacherous seasons back-to-back and after they were relegated from Division 1A, and followed that up with another last-placed showing in 1B, they will be determined to win first time out.

Their fierce Galway rivals Corinthians finished one place behind Queen's University in mid-table in Division 2A in 2016-17, but will look to put their home advantage to use.

Sligo had a sensational run last season, and they will look to begin their bid for promotion with a win in their first-round clash with Thomond at Liam Fitzgerald Park tomorrow.

Sligo finished second in Division 2C last season but missed out on their chance to reach the fourth tier, and their young side are set to go one step further this season.

Irish Independent

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