Malone have ‘three cup finals’ in bid to avoid drop

Malone coach Wilbur Leacock admits his side face three cup finals in a bid to preserve their Division 1B All Ireland League status.

By Ciaran Donaghy
Friday, 25th March 2022, 5:10 pm
Updated Friday, 25th March 2022, 5:12 pm

With the bottom two in the table set for a home and and away playoff with one side being relegated, Malone are currently ninth, two points behind Ulster rivals Banbridge and have a three-point cushion over basement club Navan.

Malone welcome Old Belvedere to Gibson Park, the Dubliners are seventh and could still be dragged into the relegation dogfight.

“If we want to assure ourselves of avoiding the relegation playoff these are must-win games, starting against Old Belvedere,” said Leacock.

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Malone coach Wilbur Leacock.

“We didn’t put in a great performance in the first game (against them) but there is not a lot between the teams. We spoke to the boys about it and we must step up as it is a must win game.

“We’re still alive at this stage and we need to win a few games, and if we do that hopefully we stay out of that relegation playoff.”

Leacock has been trying to install an attacking brand of rugby into Malone and the good weather and firmer pitches should aid his cause.

“A bit of sunshine lifts everybody and the forecast is good, and hopefully we can play a bit of running rugby,” he said.

“And hopefully that will be enough to get us across the line and get us a win.”

Adam McNamee and Aaron Sexton are both released, No8 Teigan Erasmus returned from injury against Queen’s in the cup and comes into the squad while Harry Andrews is also back after a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

McNamee returns after being part of the Ireland U20’s grand slam winning squad.

“Adam has been brilliant for us this year, he has developed into a lineout leader in the team and always brings a performance on a Saturday,” Leacock said.

Banbridge travel to playoff-chasing St Mary’s.

After reaching the Senior Cup semi-final last weekend Armagh will be hoping to keep momentum going as they make the trip to Limerick for a clash with Shannon.

Chris Parker’s team can still mathematically make the promotion playoffs but would need to win all three remaining games and hope other results go their way.

Ballynahinch face a Division 1A playoff against UCC to stay in the top flight.

Lock Cormac Izuchukwu has been released by Ulster for the home game with Dublin University.