This season's AIB Cup competition gets underway on Saturday with two first round matches taking place - Connemara will host Barnhall at Monastery Field while College Park is the venue for the Leinster derby between Dublin University and County Carlow.
Both fixtures have been brought forward from the original date of Saturday, September 27, when the remainder of the first round matches will take place.
The picturesque setting of Monastery Field, the Clifden home of Connemara RFC, will be the venue for the opening game of the AIB Cup, which is in its fourth year.
There will be some added bite to the clash of Connemara and Barnhall as both sides are competing in Division Three of the AIB League this term.
Barnhall were relegated from Division Two last March, finishing bottom of the table, while Connemara won three of their last four games to finish in fifth place in Division Three.
Barnhall have been the busier of the two in the transfer market with Jamie Kavanagh (Portlaoise), William Reynolds (North Kildare) and South African Hendrik Crafford joining the club, along with three French players.
The County Kildare outfit have suffered three defeats in the pool stages of this season's Leinster Senior League Cup. Last Saturday at Parsonstown, they went down by 50-7 to Lansdowne and in previous weeks they were second best to both Greystones and UCD.
With Benjamin Bester from South Africa their only new recruit, Connemara have largely kept the squad from last season.
They have little form coming into Saturday's game with three straight defeats in the Connacht Senior League. They lost 29-11 at home to Buccaneers last weekend.
The Galway men lost 17-14 away to Wanderers in the first round of last season's AIB Cup. That same day Barnhall were beaten 20-13 by hosts Corinthians.
Neither side has ever reached the second round of the competition. The prize for Saturday's winners is a second round trip to either Nenagh Ormond or Lansdowne on November 1.
Meanwhile, with home advantage, Dublin University will be expected to progress past County Carlow in the capital this weekend.
Trinity have the divisional edge on the visitors, as a Division Two side. They have also made a promising start to the new campaign. reaching the quarter-finals of the Leinster Senior League Cup thanks to two wins in three outings.
Tries from prop Tristan Goodbody and flanker and captain Shane Young helped them beat Navan 14-0 in their final pool game of the competition last week.
Division Three challengers Carlow opened their season with a 27-11 win over Skerries in the Leinster Senior League Cup. In recent weeks, there have been reversals to Wanderers and Terenure College. Last Saturday they lost 20-6 to Terenure at Oak Park.
Carlow were pipped 16-13 by Midleton in the first round of last season's AIB Cup. Twelve months ago, Trinity scored a notable 23-17 opening round success over Sunday's Well before falling to Clonakilty (19-3) in the second round.
Whoever wins at College Park on Saturday will face a trip to either Naas or Ballynahinch in the second round in November.
2008/09 AIB CUP - FIRST ROUND:
Saturday, September 20 -
Connemara v Barnhall, Monastery Field, kick-off 4pm
Dublin University v County Carlow, College Park, kick-off 5pm
The Ireland Under-18 and Under-19 squads had a busy Easter period with seven matches played in Ashbourne, Cardiff, Llanelli, Caerphilly and Bordeaux. Check out some of the tries scored. Full match reports are available on www.irishrugby.ie.
Speaking to RTE Radio rugby correspondent Michael Corcoran, Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt was asked about prioritising players playing in Ireland when it comes to national selection over those who are based overseas.
In an interview broadcast on RTE Radio 1's 'Sunday Sport' programme, Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt discussed the challenges and opportunities presented by the summer tour to the USA and Japan, and also looked ahead to next month's Rugby World Cup Pool Draw.
Speaking about working with the provinces and monitoring players' progress, Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt told RTE Radio 1: "For us, having the best quality of performance within the provinces, getting some really good coaching from the provincial coaches, which we know is happening at the moment, that's the foundation that we need because in the end we get the players in a match week pretty much."
In an interview with RTE Radio rugby correspondent Michael Corcoran, Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt confirmed that Girvan Dempsey, Felix Jones and Ronan O'Gara will be incorporated into the coaching group for the upcoming summer tour to the USA and Japan.
IRFU National Talent Development Manager Hendrik Kruger says the Easter age-grade internationals give the Ireland Under-18 and Under-19 players 'the chance to represent their country and experience international rugby' and are 'the highlight of their season'.
The Ireland Under-18 Clubs & Schools team (sponsored by PwC) played the England U-18 Counties side in the first of two matches at Ashbourne RFC this week. Check out the highlights from Wednesday's entertaining clash.
Four of our stadiums through the eyes of four Irish sporting legends. O'Driscoll on Aviva Stadium, Brogan on Croke Park, Matthews on Kingspan Stadium and O'Connell on Thomond Park. The world is invited #Ireland2023.
Irish Rugby TV caught up with flanker Sean O'Brien to get his reaction following Ireland's hard-earned 13-9 victory over RBS 6 Nations champions England. He singled out man-of-the-match Peter O'Mahony for special praise.
Peter O'Mahony reflects on what went wrong for Ireland in Cardiff and tells Irish Rugby TV that he is focusing on the squad and their work this week ahead of the final Six Nations game against England.
The Ireland squad paid a visit to Monaghan last week and held an open training session in Monaghan RFC. We spoke to Andrew Trimble after the session which was attended by over 2,000 cheering supporters.