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Dungannon aiming to stake promotion claim

By Jonathon Bradley

Dungannon begin life in All-Ireland League 2A today when they welcome Nenagh Ormond to Stevenson Park.

The County Tyrone side were relegated from AIL 1B last season having won just two games but, with two automatic promotion spots on offer, they will be hoping to bounce back at the first time of asking.

Ex-Ulster hooker Nigel Brady has replaced former Irish captain Paddy Johns as head coach and has presided over a win and two defeats in the Ulster Senior League to begin his tenure.

Last weekend's 42-5 reverse at Banbridge came after a red card for hooker Karl Egan while some key men were also absent from the line-up.

Captain James Bates returns to the side today but the visitors from Tipperary will offer a considerable threat after they were promoted from AIL 2B last season without losing a game.

Fresh from that comprehensive result last week, Banbridge host Cashel at Rifle Park for what promises to be a close encounter after the sides finished within two points of each other last year.

The first Ulster derby of the season in 2A comes when City of Derry travel to Hatrick Park for a tussle with Rainey Old Boys.

Mark Nichol's men finished third last season and will be among those fancied for promotion this year.

The final Ulster side in 2A action is Queen's University who, after a strong campaign last time out, face promoted Thomond at Liam Fitzgerald Park.

League restructuring means that two teams will be relegated automatically from 2B, with third from bottom facing a play-off.

The top four will remain in 2B while the teams who finish between fifth and 13th will form part of the new AIL 2C.

The season kicks off with Armagh travelling to newly-relegated Old Crescent and Ards visiting Sligo.

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