Nenagh Ormond Director of Rugby John Long.

Ormond hoping for better fortune in 2022

By Shane Brophy

New Year, fresh outlook! That is what Nenagh Ormond will be hoping for as their All-Ireland League division 2A campaign resumes next Saturday as they head into the second half of the season in a relegation battle.

Nenagh are four points adrift at the bottom of the table, in the only automatic relegation spot. They are four points behind second from bottom Rainey Old Boys who sit in the relegation/promotion playoff spot with the division 2B teams, and getting there has to be the initial aim for Ormond in the short term.

So, the pressure is on not to fall too further adrift when they welcome Dolphin to Lisatunny next Saturday, a side that handed Nenagh a 42-12 defeat in their most recent league clash before Christmas.

“Players know it is serious know and that we have to hit the ground running on Saturday,” said John Long, Nenagh Ormond’s Director of Rugby.

However, just as had been the case in the first half of the season, Covid has been an issue within the squad with players going down with the virus, or being classed as a close contact and missing training and/or matches.

“The bad performances are down to not having the same team week in week out, either at training or at matches. It’s just really hard to work,” Long added.

“For the last two to three seasons there has been a big transition with guys going out and guys coming in, and that is hard enough to deal with without the likes of Covid and a bad run of injuries.”

It has meant some of the younger players such as Conor McMahon, James Meagher, Peter Rainsford and Scott Pearson being fast-tracked into the side, and against Old Crescent last month, seven of the starting team had played under 19 rugby inside the last two years which shows just how inexperienced Nenagh are in coping with third-tier rugby.

“Looking back on it all, from the get-go we were on the back foot,” Long added.

“We had a few injuries coming into pre-season and then lost guys in the opening games. Every injury we got seemed to be a serious injury and there were three or four games on the trot we lost two guys per game to injury.

“In everyone of our games we were affected with Covid. For the AIL games, never had the same starting team two weeks in a row, particularly in the key positions while two players have had to come out of retirement.

“We are a very small club. We don’t have the depth that other teams have, such as the Limerick city clubs, even some other town clubs that have colleges to pull from. We have been punching above our weight for a long time but something like this causes massive issues for us.”

However, Ormond will be hoping that the return of John Healy, Nicky Irwin, Jake O’Kelly and captain John O’Flaherty from injury can spark them into life and a win over Dolphin on Saturday could certainly kick-start Nenagh’s season into life and get them out of the relegation zone over the next three months.