Having again endured massive player turnover in the off-season, Con now have Frenchmen Renaud Sergere and Paul Perez on hand to light up their back play. The duo have arrived at Con via junior second division side Kinsale, making their names in Munster rugby circles during a productive season-long spell with the seaside outfit.
Both were involved in Con’s 43-6 win over Dolphin in round one last weekend, centre Sergere notching an intercept try and an opportunist drop goal while full-back Perez came off the bench to claim a try.
Garryowen also impressed seeing off Thomond 42-7 at Dooradoyle as flanker Anthony Kavanagh, two-try Cian O’Shea and English-born Munster Academy centre Corey Hircock all showed scintillating early season form. Temple Hill holds no fears for the light blues, who dumped Con out there last season en route to winning the title, as well as successfully raiding the Ballintemple venue in the Ulster Bank League.
But Con snuck out of Dooradoyle with a 21-20 win last time the sides met in April, so Garryowen will feel they owe the Leesiders one today. Elsewhere, Old Crescent won’t relish their trip to play Division 2A new boys Cashel, who are on a giant-killing buzz after disposing of last year’s beaten finalists Bruff 13-7. Much of that was down to back row Ed Leamy and Pat O’Connor’s goal-kicking accuracy, while Crescent had an impressive victory (11-8) at Cork Charity Cup finalists Highfield.
Given Cashel were only undone by two late Highfield tries in their 24-23 Charity Cup loss earlier this month, it’s reasonable to expect another tightly-fought, attritional encounter when Crescent come to Spafield.
Sunday’s Well have the unenviable task of attempting to put the shackles on UL Bohemian at Musgrave Park. Bohs have flown out of the blocks this year but had to work hard for a six-point win at Nenagh Ormond in the previous round, while the ‘Well are coming off the back of a comfortable win over Clonakilty, inspired by Shane O’Riordan’s 22-point haul.
Few will give a side three divisions below Bohs in the Ulster Bank League a prayer, and shutting down the Limerick men’s scrum-half Cathal Sheridan — if he plays after his involvement with Munster A on Thursday night — will be top of their agenda. Young Munster will find out who their quarter-final opponents are after Midleton and Shannon meet in a rescheduled tie at Towns Park. Last weekend’s tie was postponed due to the death of former Shannon president Darragh Little. Midleton will be keen to test themselves against a top side once more after a disrupted early season campaign, a heavy reverse to Dolphin in the Cork Charity Cup semi-final their sole competitive outing so far. Shannon — for whom big signing from Dolphin, Eric Moloney, will be keen to impress in midfield — should nonetheless have too much in the tank.