There will be a northerly invasion of 'Pirates' on Saturday when Buccaneers take on Ballynahinch in the Division 1A promotion/relegation play-off at Ballymacarn Park (kick-off 2.30pm).
The Buccaneers squad greatly appreciated the support at Terenure College recently, particularly by the Women's team. Now for this most important game of the season, the Athlone club are urging supporters to get mobilised!
Supporters' buses have been organised for the trip to the scenic County Down foothills for this battle of battles, and those intending to travel by bus need to give their names to club administrator Geraldine. Text her at 0861732711 or email email@example.com as early as possible to book.
Adult fare will not exceed €15 for the trip, which departs Dubarry Park at 9.15am on Saturday. That should give sufficient time for a 'pit stop' en-route and also ensure that supporters arrive early to be part of the big pre-match build-up.
With so much at stake, a full-blooded encounter is anticipated. Both teams finished their respective campaigns strongly with 'Hinch securing three bonus point victories that helped them avoid automatic relegation from the top flight.
Meanwhile, Buccs were also firing on all cylinders when winning six games in a row to overhaul both Corinthians and UL Bohemians in the run-in and thus earn the play-off spot.
Ballynahinch are doughty battlers, particularly on their own elevated grounds on the slopes of Slieve Croob. You can almost surely bet on it being breezy at this exposed venue.
Derek Suffern's side gained promotion last season but struggled to get any real momentum until that late sequence of victories staved off relegation.
The 'Hinch pack is bulky and thrives on mauling play. Loosehead prop Kyle McCall is a key operator here as is the seasoned Chris Stevenson.
Lock Ken Morton and number 8 Michael Graham are their chief lineout targets, while the work on the ground of flanker Paul Pritchard in turning over possession must be negated by the visiting Pirates.
Full-back Rodger McBurney is a strong runner, while winger David McIlwaine also has a penchant for scoring tries. Livewire scrum half Aaron Cairns chases everything so is an all-round danger.
Harry McAleese is likely to be his half-back partner although Richie Lobb will vie for this position. Stuart Morrow skippers the side but the centre is an injury worry for the hosts.
Meanwhile, Buccaneers should be able to select from a full strength squad as the talismanic Kolo Kiripati and dynamic Luke Satchwell look like being fit for this most important game of a long season.
James Tormey too should be fully recovered from the injury sustained at Terenure College. With Daniel Qualter, Conor Kindregan and Mata Fifita in the frame, head coach Tony Dolan has strength and experience to select from in this section of the pack where Evan Galvin, Sam McCormack, Ruairi Byrne, Josh O'Rourke and possibly Cian Romaine could also be involved.
Martin Staunton will surely return to form a competitive and able front row with Garreth Halligan and Diarmuid Higgins.Jacob Walshe and Bryan Teape are also promising options here.
Scrum half Mark Dolan is another player sure to return. He was rested as a precaution against Terenure and his endeavours throughout the season earned him the Connacht Senior Club Player of the Year award last weekend.
His half-back partner Jack Carty was another winner at the province's annual awards event, being named the Connacht Academy Player of the Year.
This talented duo know each other inside out and can be the fulcrum to a Buccaneers victory on Saturday if they dictate the tempo and territory of the game.
Conor Finn has been in exemplary form of late in the centre alongside canny captain Alex Hayman.
Callum Boland, Shane Layden, Billy Henshaw and Eoghan O'Reilly will all ask questions of 'Hinch when in possession, while Ger O'Connor (who acquitted himself well in recent outings) and Tiernan O'Halloran are others who could be unleashed in an attack-minded back-line.
Players from ten different Ulster Bank League clubs have been named in the Ireland Club International side by Head Coach Paul Cunningham for Friday's fixture against French Federale, in Stade Jules Ladoumègue (Paris).
The Ulster Bank League resumed last weekend with last year's champions Lansdowne hosting current table toppers UCD. Check out the best of the action from an exciting Division 1A encounter on the Aviva Stadium's back pitch.
Ireland's U-18 School and U-18 Club players were part of a three day camp over the Christmas period and received specialist training and advice workshops as they continue their development path. We spoke to Team Manager John McKinney, Caoches Noel McNamara and Mark Butler and IRFU High Performance Manager Colin McEntee about the structure of the three days and the season ahead for the players.
The IRFU High Performance Unit, under Colin McEntee, and Ireland scrum coach Greg Feek brought together coaches from all four provinces and Ireland representative teams to share ideas and look at recent trends in scrummaging. We spoke to Colin and Greg on the day.
Watch the IRFU/Ulster Bank 'Your Club, Your Country' Grand Draw which took place at Irish Rugby headquarters. The winning tickets were drawn by IRFU President Martin O'Sullivan and Lionel Mahon of Ulster Bank, with Aidan Connaughton of Grant Thornton overseeing the draw. The full list of winners is available here - http://www.irishrugby.ie/news/36203.php.
Table toppers Clontarf entertained Galwegians in Ulster Bank League Division 1A, hosting the game on their new 4G pitch which was officially opened on the day by Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt and IRFU President Martin O'Sullivan.
With the Ulster Bank League resuming this week, we take a look back at a cracking Division 1A contest from the last round when Old Belvedere got the better of defending champions Lansdowne at Anglesea Road.
There was huge excitement surrounding the Aviva Irish Schools Rugby Festival last Sunday as 32 boys and girls teams got to play at the home of Irish Rugby. We hear from IRFU National Age-Grade Manager Hendrik Kruger, Shane Culleton from St. MacDara's, Ireland Women's star Jenny Murphy and some of the players involved on the day.
We take a look back at one of the best games from the opening four rounds of Ulster Bank League Division 1A - Galwegians' memorable 41-20 defeat of reigning champions Lansdowne at Crowley Park last Saturday.
Highlights of Lansdowne's 24-10 Friday Night Lights victory over Terenure College on the Aviva Stadium's back pitch, as Mike Ruddock's men maintain their unbeaten start to the Ulster Bank League season.
Galwegians head coach Matt Brown talks about his side's return to Division 1A of the Ulster Bank League, while New Zealander Josh Hrstich, captain of Garryowen, looks forward to their campaign - including this Friday's derby clash with Young Munster.
The Ulster Bank League kicks off on Friday night and fans can tune in from around the world for IrishRugby.ie's live stream of the Division 1A opener between UCD and Clontarf at the Belfield Bowl (kick-off 7.30pm). We hear from captains Stephen Murphy and Ben Reilly.
Ireland Women's internationals Nora Stapleton and Niamh Briggs talk to Irish Rugby TV about the IRFU's new Long Term Player Development Model for Women's rugby. For more on Women's LTPD, please visit www.irishrugby.ie/womensltpd.
The launch of the IRFU Long Term Player Development programme for Women's rugby is an important milestone in the game. Michael McGeehin of Coaching Ireland and Louis Magee, former IRFU President, speak about the programme.
The Irish Rugby Football Union will help clubs make the most of the upcoming Rugby World Cup with a number of initiatives designed to make clubs 'THE' place to support the men in green during England 2015.
MU Barnhall RFC hosted their first ever Special Needs Tag Rugby Blitz last weekend. Great fun was had by the players and coaches from the Barnhall Buffaloes, Salmo Eagles, Westmanstown Taggers, Terenure Tigers and Mullingar Lions as they showed that rugby is a sport for all.