Irish rugby statistician Des Daly takes a look at the rivalries in Limerick club rugby, as two of the Treaty city's finest - Young Munster and Old Crescent - prepare to clash in AIB League Division Two this Sunday.
There are seven senior rugby clubs in the Limerick region, six in the city and one (Bruff) in the county. During the 1996/97, 1997/98, 2000/01 and 2002/03 seasons as many as four Limerick clubs participated in Division One.
This season there are three Limerick City clubs in the top flight and three in Division Two.
The six city clubs are evenly distributed across the river Shannon with three on the northside - Shannon, UL Bohemians and Thomond - and three on the southside - Garryowen, Young Munster and Old Crescent.
All three southside senior clubs, like the three northside ones, exist cheek by jowl beside each other. Shannon and UL Bohs ground share at Thomond Park where the latter are actually the senior tenants of the Munster Branch. Thomond are to be found 400 metres further north at Liam Fitzgerald Park.
As one travels west out of the city on the southside, Greenfields (now named Tom Clifford Park in memory of the 1950 Lion) is where the home of Young Munster is located. Within spitting distance from there, as the crow flies, the Old Crescent ground at Rosbrien can be reached while Garryowen are situated at Dooradoyle further down the road near the Crescent Shopping Centre.
Limerick clubs have dominated Division One of the league since its inception in 1990/91. Shannon, in fact, have won the Division One title in eight of the 16 seasons, and this term they are attempting to win four titles in-a-row for the second time in their history.
Garryowen, like Shannon, have been omnipresent in Division One and have won the title on two occasions (1991/92 and 1993/94), and been runners-up four times.
Garryowen and Shannon also share the record as regards 'top four' finishes - both clubs have ten top four finishes to their credit since the 1990/91 campaign.
...Young Munster, captained by Ger Clohessy, celebrate their league title win back in 1993...
Young Munster were champions back in 1992/93 and spent eleven seasons in the top flight before they were relegated to Division Two at the end of the 2001/02 season.
Old Crescent are presently in their 15th season in the league. They have mostly been a Division Two club ( champions in 1995/96) but have competed in Division One for three seasons, once for two consecutive campaigns.
Bohemian FC arrived into Division Four in 1993/94, the season the league was extended to include all 46 senior clubs in the land. Bohs won Division Four in 1994/95 and amalgamated with the University of Limerick for the 1999/2000 season. A calculated move - it did not take them long to move up through the grades. They were Division Two champions in 2004/05 and have been in the top third of Division One since then.
Thomond arrived into the AIB League seven seasons back. They were promoted to senior status after finishing second in the 1998/99 champion junior clubs' Inter-Provincial Round Robin. They won further promotion in successive seasons and are now playing in the second tier for the sixth season.
Bruff won the Round Robin at the end of the 2003/04 season and have finished eleventh and fourth respectively in Division Three since they were promoted into senior ranks.
This season three Limerick local derbies in both Division One and Division Two have been scheduled. Already, on November 4, Garryowen travelled across the river and beat Shannon 19-11. Old Crescent also beat Thomond 20-10 on the opening day of the season and two weeks later, Young Munster and Thomond drew 24-24 at Clifford Park.
...Ireland scrum half Eoin Reddan, one of Old Crescent's most famous players in recent years, is pictured above during the 2002/03 AIB League Division Two final against Dolphin...
This Sunday, Old Crescent make the short trip up the road to face Young Munster in the last Limerick Division Two derby this season.
Over the years of Limerick derbies in the AIB League, Garryowen and Shannon have lost more games than they have won at home to the other Limerick clubs. UL Bohs have lost only once at home - 28-12 to Garryowen last December.
Garryowen just pip Shannon as regards success away from home in Limerick while Old Crescent have enjoyed only 25% success on the road in their own city. Overall, Shannon and UL Bohs both share a 64% success rate in terms of their total AIB League games played in the Treaty city. However, Shannon have played twice as many matches in Limerick compared to their Thomond Park co-tenants - 35 to 15.
And what about the time Limerick's two leading clubs arrived at Lansdowne Road to contest the Division One final. That game was played on Saturday, April 25, 1998 with Shannon the victors by 15-9.