Sunday 17 December 2017

De La Salle lay early markers under Werahiko

Leinster captain Caelan Doris, goes through the tackles of Ulster's Ben Finlay and Jonathon Stewart as he scores his team's second try in their 12-9 victory in the U18 Schools Interprovincial Championship
Leinster captain Caelan Doris, goes through the tackles of Ulster's Ben Finlay and Jonathon Stewart as he scores his team's second try in their 12-9 victory in the U18 Schools Interprovincial Championship

Dermot O'Mahony

It's dangerous to read too much into pre-season action, but the first couple of Spencer Cup results for De La Salle Palmerston suggest that the Kilternan club is primed for a battle at the top rather a struggle against relegation when Division 1A of the Leinster League begins tomorrow week.

On Saturday they beat Ashbourne 32-20 at home in Kirwan Park, and bearing in mind that the Meath club finished strongly last season to pick up an All-Ireland Junior Cup spot it's a result that certainly caught the eye for the side newly relegated from the AIL.

Recently returned head coach Phil Werahiko, who led DLSP to Division 1 of the AIL in his previous tenure at the club, has his charges in good early season fettle as they are heading Group 1 of the Spencer Cup.

Monkstown have won Group 2 following a pair of wins against Suttonians and Malahide. The latter pair faced each other at Red Arches Road in Baldoyle, Suttonians' new alternate venue, with the visitors securing a 33-27 win courtesy of a late try.

Clondalkin finished fourth in Division 1A last term and they have won their opening two games in the Hosie Cup, although they were made to fight all the way at Silken Thomas Park on Sunday by their hosts Cill Dara as they snared a 12-3 victory.

Three Division 1A teams are competing in the South East J1 League, and last season's runners up and Bank of Ireland Towns Cup winners Enniscorthy have continued where they left off as they disposed of New Ross 61-5 on Sunday, having beaten Kilkenny 35-17 in their opener a couple of weeks earlier.

Gorey were promoted along with Division 1B champions Kilkenny and they beat Tullow 59-5 on Sunday, which along with their previous win against Wexford Wanderers will give them great confidence ahead of their debut in the top flight.

While there are no Division 1A teams in the Midland J1 League, Mullingar and Longford will be looking forward to productive campaigns in Division 1B; Mullingar's only game to date resulted in a 42-14 victory against Roscrea, while Longford will be more buoyed by their win at home against Monkstown in a friendly last weekend than their earlier success over Birr.

There are still a number of fixtures in the Hosie Cup and South East J1 League down for decision this weekend, with the derby between Portlaoise and Portarlington at Togher this evening probably the pick of them.

While all these pre-Leinster League local area games give teams vital preparation, it is not until the white hot heat of battle arrives from next week onwards that contenders will begin to emerge and accurate assessments and informed predictions can be made.

Irish Independent

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