GARRYOWEN’S hopes of avoiding relegation from Division 1A of the All-Ireland League reach a critical point this Saturday when the ‘light blues’ face Dolphin at Musgrave Park.
Basement side Garryowen slipped five points behind second-from-bottom Ballynahinch in the battle to avoid the drop to 1B when suffering a 20-point defeat to title-chasing Clontarf at Dooradoyle on Saturday last.
There are now just three rounds of regular season fixtures to go in 1A. While Garryowen’s scoring difference is vastly inferior to Ballynahinch’s, the ‘light blues’ are in effect six points adrift of the Ulster side. The team finishing bottom of 1A at the end of the regular season faces automatic relegation to 1B at the end of the season, while the side finishing second-from-bottom must rely on winning a relegation play-off in order to guarantee their survival.
Ballynahinch also visit Cork this Saturday when they face Bateman Cup finalists Cork Con at Temple Hill.
Garryowen forwards coach, Paul Neville said: “We have to go to Cork to play Dolphin this weekend. We then have Mary’s away and finally Belvedere at home.
“We just have to keep the heads down, keep working hard and try and dig ourselves out of it. We have to dust ourselves down after the defeat against Clontarf and get going again as quickly as we can. It is not easy physically. Mentally we need to get them right too.
“But we were 14 points behind ‘Hinch at one stage this season. We were all square going into today’s fixture and are now five points behind again.
“There are still three games left. We need to win next weekend. All we can do is control the controllables. We need to look after ourselves.
“Dolphin’s form this season has been a bit inconsistent. But again you can’t go on form. It is a very unpredictable league. We have to make sure we are up for the challenge physically and mentally, more to the point, and that we get a result next week.”
Elsewhere in Division 1A, Young Munster will be looking to bounce back from their disappointing defeat away to Ballynahinch when hosting St Mary’s College at Clifford Park.
There is also a full programme of fixtures in Division 1B of the League. Both UL-Bohemian and Shannon will be looking to return to winning ways after suffering weekend defeats. While UL-Bohs host Dungannon on the back pitch at Thomond Park, Shannon are on the road to Deramore Park to face Belfast Harlequins.
Richmond will play a re-arranged fixture in Division 2B when hosting Instonians at Richmond Park.