UL-BOHEMIAN are looking to make their mark on their return to Division 1A of the Ulster Bank All-Ireland League. Rugby Correspondent, Colm Kinsella, assesses their prospects for the season
COACHING TEAM: Chairman of Rugby: Jason Enright; Director of Rugby: Mossie Lawler, Head Coach: Colm Tucker; Forwards Coach: Gary Flanagan; Backs Coach: Barry Murphy; Team Manager: Michael Murphy
LAST YEAR: Winners of 1B
FORM: Claimed the Limerick Charity Cup for the first time in five seasons with a deserved final win over Young Munster. Have also advanced to the semi-final stage of the ODM Munster Senior Cup.
PLAYERS IN: Alex Simpson (Richmond), Tom Burke (Thomond), Niall O’Brien (Clonmel)
PLAYERS OUT: Aidan McNulty (Old Crescent), Darragh Cantillon (Young Munster), Tom Goggin (Young Munster), Ed Torrie (Lansdowne).
MAIN MAN: Sean Henry - The 24-year-old has made five appearances for the Munster senior side to date and while he would like to figure in Rob Penney’s match-day plans through the season, the Sligo native is likely to get plenty of opportunities to impress in the red of UL-Bohs’ through the season. An accomplished scrummager, Henry also boasts an impressive work-rate around the field.
ONE TO WATCH: Darren Moroney - Munster Academy member Moroney won a Schools Senior Cup medal with Castletroy College in 2008. Equally at home on the wing and fullback, Moroney made his British & Irish Cup debut for the Munster ‘A’ side as a replacement against Neath in November 2011. An exciting talent with ball in hand and good finisher, Moroney is likely to get plenty of opportunities in a backline which is set to boast plenty of experience in the likes of Martin McPhail, Mossie Lawler and Ben Martin.
FIXTURES: St Mary’s College v UL-Bohemian, Templeville Road, Saturday, September 29, 2.30pm; UL-Bohemian v Cork Constitution, Thomond Park, Saturday, October 6, 2.30pm; Clontarf v UL-Bohemian, Castle Avenue, Saturday, October 27, 2.30pm; UL-Bohemian v Garryowen, Thomond Park, Friday, November 2, 7.30pm; UL-Bohemian v Young Munster, Thomond Park, Friday, November 9, 7.30pm
VERDICT: On current form, UL-Bohs’ appear well equipped to cope with their return to the AILs top flight. The Annacotty club’s impressive showings in both the Limerick Charity Cup - which they won- and the Munster Senior Cup - where they have advanced to the semi-final - augurs well. However, their opening fixtures are challenging, a home tie against Cork Con’ sandwiched between away fixtures against the League’s top two sides from last season, St Mary’s College and Clontaf.
The availability of their Munster contracted contingent, including Sean Henry, Dave Foley, JJ Hanrahan and Cathal Sheridan, during the course of the season would provide a significant boost to their prospects of doing well. Mossie Lawler, who has taken over as the club’s Director of Rugby, will bolster an already impressive backline. UL-Bohs’ earned their place in the top flight after impressively winning Division 1B last season. The club hasn’t lost as many players during the past summer as was the case in previous closed season. The side has a settled look about it, boasting a good mix of experience and youth. The Red Robins look a good bet to consolidate their position in this top flight this season and could well mount a decent challenge for top honours this season.