EXCITEMENT continues to mount in rugby circles as the new season looms just around the corner.The release of the fixture lists enables coaches to take their planning a stage further while diehard supporters can make advanced arrangements for their weekends away.
After the usual block of First Trust Ulster League fixtures,the more important AIL business gets under way on September 29 and while Rainey are confident of again challenging for honours,they know that no opposition can be taken lightly and are well aware that they face a tricky opener at home to Nenagh Ormond.They have yet to beat the North Tipperary men who have somehow managed to dent Rainey hopes year after year.
This is followed by a trip to North Down to meet Ards who conjured up a series of remarkable results at the tail of last season to condemn famous old Dublin club Wanderers to junior rugby and preserve their senior status by coming from behind to beat Galway juniors Monivea in a play-off.
While eight of Rainey’s fifteen AIL games are away from home,they face less travelling than they did last season when every one of their away fixtures took them across the border.Their longest journeys,to Cork and Connemara,are both in the autumn.Three of the four new teams in Division 2B come north towards the end of the campaign.
North Dublin seasiders Skerries return to senior rugby after a six year absence,having dominated the Junior scene in Leinster last season.
Limerick side Thomond,beaten by Highfield in a play-off,and West Cork representatives Clonakilty are Rainey’s last two opponents.Both these sides,like yo-yo club Instonians who play the Old Boys at Shaw’s Bridge in December,were demoted from Division 2A.
Rainey warm up for the Ulster League with the annual Lee Memorial match with Clogher Valley at Hatrick Park next Saturday,18 August.The following week they travel to Queen’s.
In September they meet City of Derry, Dungannon,Belfast Harlequins and Malone.The fixtures booklet should be available to members next week.