10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations match in February, while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
Out-half Dave Delaney kicked 20 points as champions Shannon moved back up to third in the Division One table on the back of a 25-12 victory over bottom side County Carlow.
AIB LEAGUE: Saturday, March 25
SHANNON 25 COUNTY CARLOW 12, Thomond Park
Scorers: Shannon: Try: Pat O'Connor; Con: Dave Delaney; Pens: Delaney 6
Carlow: Pens: Greg Jacob 4
Champions Shannon moved up to third in the Division One, but failed to impress in beating Carlow at Thomond Park.
Having lost to arch rivals Garryowen last time out, it was vitally important that Mick Galwey's outfit got back to winning ways, and they did, but not in an ideal manner. Admittedly, the wet conditions did not help, but the result hung in the balance for Shannon right up until two minutes from the end.
Leading 18-12, it took a try from Irish Colleges international Pat O'Connor to finally put some daylight between the sides. League veteran Andrew Thompson laid the platform for the only try of the afternoon, making an excellent incision in the Carlow midfield and winger O'Connor was in the right place at the right time to take the pass and score at the corner.
Out-half Dave Delaney converted to complete a 20-point personal haul. Delaney edged what was effectively a penalty competition between himself and Carlow centre Greg Jacob for the first 77 minutes. Jacob kicked two penalties on 20 and 36 minutes to see Carlow, who are yet to win a league game this season, go in at the break with a surprise 6-3 lead.
Jacob added two more after the break, but Delaney eclipsed him, stroking over pitch-perfect penalties on 42, 60, 67, 69 and 77 minutes to fire Shannon six points clear. O'Connor's try then killed off the midlanders' brave but try-less challenge.
DUBLIN UNIVERSITY 7 BALLYMENA 22, College Park
Scorers: Dublin Uni: Try: Philip Howard; Con: Mark O'Neill
Ballymena: Tries: Paul Shields, Dirkie Strydom, Penalty try; Cons: Strydom 2; Pen: Strydom
Dublin University's relegation woes deepened at College Park as Ballymena scored a three-try win.
The Braidmen had only a point to spare - 23-22 - when the sides met last season, but early tries from hooker Paul Shields and Dirkie Strydom, who lined out at outside centre, had Steph Nel's men 12-0 to the good at the break.
Dublin University winger Philip Howard scrambled over for a try, converted by replacement out-half Mark O'Neill, in the second half, but Strydom converted a subsequent penalty try award and a 30-metre penalty kick to end the second-from-bottom students' hopes of a revival.
DUNGANNON 18 UL BOHEMIANS 42, Stevenson Park
Scorers: Dungannon: Tries: Tyrone Howe 2; Con: Gareth Steenson; Pens: Steenson 2
UL Bohs: Tries: Aidan O'Gorman 2, Colman Finn, Anthony Hartigan, Cathal Garvey; Cons: Ben Martin 2, Fergal Lawlor 2; Pens: Martin 2; Drop: Lawlor
UL Bohemians ran in four second-half tries at Stevenson Park to continue their push for a play-off spot.
Bohs have closed the gap on fourth-placed Cork Constitution, whose game was postponed, to two points with just two games remaining. The Limerick men led 14-8 at half time courtesy of an Aidan O'Gorman try, two Ben Martin penalties and a Fergal Lawlor drop goal. Soon-to-be-retired winger Tyrone Howe grabbed an early try for 'Gannon.
Howe struck again with an intercept effort after the restart, but touchdowns from O'Gorman, captain Colman Finn, Anthony Hartigan and Cathal Garvey saw Bohs romp clear.
BLACKROCK COLLEGE 11 UCD 13, Stradbrook
Scorers: Blackrock: Try: Alan Henry; Pens: Paddy O'Toole, Henry
UCD: Try: Stephen Grissing; Con: Eoghan Hickey; Pens: Hickey 2