Nenagh Ormond pictured in action against Sunday's Well recently.
Nenagh Ormond - joint-top of division 2A in the Ulster Bank League - face a brace of crucial away trips which are sure to test their league title credentials; on Friday, February 10th Nenagh Ormond are away to Galway Corinthians RFC (8pm) while eight days later the North Tipperary outfit face Banbridge in Down’s Rifle Park.
Right now Highfield, Nenagh Ormond and Malone are locked on 36 points apiece at the summit of the division while Queen’s University (33 points) and Banbridge (32) are also within striking distance with just seven games to play.
Nenagh Ormond recently clung on for a narrow victory over Sunday’s Well at New Ormond Park (10-7). And, that contest represented a searing test of the Nenagh tram - Sunday’s Well threw everything at them and appeared to have the home side in trouble, but Ormond, in a display of raw grit, stuck at it and walked away with four precious points despite playing 20 minutes of the second half with 14 men. Indeed, this gut check could stand to Nenagh Ormond during the coming weeks.
Conversely Cashel RFC find themselves second from bottom in the division, but enjoy a wonderful opportunity during the next fortnight to propel themselves up the table - on Saturday, February 11th Cashel RFC host Banbridge (2.30pm) and are also at home a week later against Belfast Harlequins. Win both of those games and Cashel RFC will go a long way to assuaging relegation fears.
With the Ulster Bank League then taking a break until Saturday, March 4th making a move now may well pay a big dividend for both Tipperary clubs.
The focus of rugby supporters, of course, will be on Nenagh Ormond who are a solid candidate to earn promotion from division 2A.
Nenagh won the Munster Junior Cup five times (1931, 1935, 1948, 2000 & 2004), division two of the Munster Junior League in 1999, division one of the Munster Junior League in 2005, the All-Ireland League round-robin series in 2005 and graduated to become a senior club thereafter. Nenagh Ormond’s greatest-ever triumph materialized when the club claimed the division 2B crown in 2014.
The alma mater of Donnacha Ryan, Trevor Hogan, Barry Everitt and John Muldoon is guided by an ambitious committee (featuring club president Seánie McCullough) while Ivan Muldoon (brother of John) is the head coach of the senior side working alongside Ray Hogan, Derek Corcoran, Dan Fogarty and John Long on the Ormond management team.
The team is captained by 23-year-old second row Kevin O’Flaherty while featuring New Zealander Clayton Stewart at out-half, Conor Muldoon at hooker and an excellent partnership in midfield with William O’Connor and Derek Corcoran who in terrific form this season. And, the Nenagh Ormond back row, of course, features Lemeki Viapulu.
The town of Nenagh is immensely proud of this team’s exploits. Hopefully, this group of players can now maintain their form and their place in the promotion picture. Watch this space.
Ulster Bank League Division 2A
Friday, February 10th
Galway Corinthians RFC v Nenagh Ormond
in Corinthian Park, Galway @ 8pm
Saturday, February 11th
Cashel RFC v Banbridge
in Spafield, Cashel @ 2.30pm
Saturday, February 18th
Banbridge v Nenagh Ormond
in Rifle Park @ 2.30pm
Cashel RFC v Belfast Harlequins
in Spafield, Cashel @ 2.30pm