Preseason chat may well have placed Clontarf and Suttonians as the two favourites for the coming season in division two but just a little to the north tomorrow afternoon, Skerries and Avoca could yet have a few words to say about that.
Avoca have added some decent quality with Willie Aylmer coming from Fingal, Stephen Brownlow – an All-Ireland schools winner with Wesley – returning to the game and Andy Lewis coming from Bray. Peter Haughton also looks to be a talented youth coming through from Newpark.
Ezra Handelman returns after two seasons with Three Rock to take up his home in the centre of the park. This may be tempered by Stephen Day’s hand injury that will keep him out until January but the side is backed up by ex-Uruguay goalkeeper Sebastian Percivalle, adding some international colour.
It’s something their opponents tomorrow are becoming acquainted to, as Skerries introduce South African Albert van der Merwe – who has already tasted domestic success with The Hills in cricket – and German exchange student Felix Macken who may be a decent talent.
Clontarf will be confident of starting with a win over Naas at home. Suttonians, meanwhile, have two good Neville Cup fixtures in their legs, against Kilkenny and Railway with just their local contingent. Yasir Islam and Mukhtar Ahmed are set to return in due course while Nasir Munir completed his suspension due to the club’s run in the Neville Cup.
Three other sides sit out the weekend with Weston and Trinity’s match postponed while Bray have a weekend off as the league has been reduced to nine teams in the wake of Portrane and St Brendan’s/Phoenix Park’s reseparation and subsequent repositioning in divisions four and five respectively.
Bray’s side may still have an antipodean flavour though the personnel has changed. Phil Davis remains Brett Hinge departs, replaced by Aussie James Hardiman. Belgian Xavier van Gaver arrives for a few months and Kiwi Ian Murphy is also in.
Irishmen Greg Keeley, Stephen Jones and Andy Macken are also involved with the squad which is another that could be involved in the shake-up.
Trinity, for their part, have confirmed High School’s Andrew Gray with a Belfast Harlequins’ player possibly following.
For the students, holding onto Barry Glavey – probably the best player in division two – was key and they look more organised under Ronan Pelow than last time out.
Clontarf vs Naas (2.15pm, Mount Temple)
Skerries vs Avoca (1pm, Skerries CC)
Navan vs Suttonians