Halfway point for Accies.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Halfway point for Accies. thumbnail Stewart McCain and Omagh Accies have reached the halfway stage in the All Ireland League 2C season.

OMAGH Accies reach the half way point in their first season back in the AIL ranks when they welcome Malahide to Thomas Mellon Playing Fields in Saturday in an eagerly awaited fixture following last season's narrow loss to the Fingal County side at the same venue.

The Accies lost 17-26 on that occasion, but were guilty of showing the visitors too much respect, and while they are indeed a well drilled side, Omagh will feel they are eminently beatable.

The home side ran out of time after a spirited second half comeback that gave them momentum in their following qualifying games against Ballina, Clonmel and the playoff versus Boyne.

Nicknamed 'The Lions', Malahide have had a very successful few years storming up through the Leinster Junior ranks and boasting fine facilities at Estuary Road, and with a heavy recruitment campaign that has netted them the services of ex-Ireland prop Mike Ross as scrum coach/player and several others with AIL experience, they were among the favourites going into this season.

Head coach Rick Evans has been in place since 2010 and has seen his side take a mid-table position with four wins and losses, with all the losses notably coming on their travels against Sligo, Thomond, Midelton and Seapoint.

They did turn a few heads however with a massive 55-7 home win against the previously relegated Bective Rangers side to open the campaign.

One key area on Saturday will be the breakdown and battle of the two back rows. The Malahide trio impressed last time out with their collective work and tackling, though the home trio of Adam Longwell, James Catterson and Matthew Clyde have impressed this year, complement each other very well and are growing as a unit.

They will need to be at their best for this one.

Omagh coach Phil Marshall will know about the visitors' free flowing game, with offloading in the tackle a feature of their performance against the Accies previously and with dangerous backs such as Marcus McAllister and Marc Hewitt posing a threat from anywhere on the pitch.

Conal Keane remains a kicker of some pedigree and the Tyrone side will ben keen to deny him any opportunities on Saturday.

With a lengthy injury list coupled by unavailability, Marshall will be glad to have no further injury worries for this clash and will have Richard Harpur available for selection, though this may be a week too early for Neil Brown to return.

"I won't place too much emphasis about Malahide and their travels. They won here last year. That's all we have to remember", he noted, before adding, "this will be the halfway point in the season and if we could be in the top four after these back to back matches I will be delighted".

Kick off on Saturday is at 2.30pm.


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