12 Dec, 11:30
The Ireland Under-19 team to face Australia Schools at Ravenhill this Saturday afternoon (kick-off 2.30pm) has been announced.
Should Mick Galwey's side begin 2005 in the same vein as they ended last year - losing 19-18 at Belfast Harlequins - they will have already chalked up the same amount of losses (3) that Geoff Moylan's 2003/04 winners managed in their whole campaign.
The Limerick men, though, are sure to be chomping at the bit for the win, following an inactive festive period.
Add in to the pot, the students' last league visit to Thomond - 2002/03's 55-22 loss, as Andrew Thompson collected two tries in a 25-point performance, and the fires are already stoked for an excellent game.
Back then, Shannon clocked up their bonus point by the thirtieth minute, but Saturday's clash should be more akin to the sides' last two meetings at Belfield - 18-16 and 31-29 home wins.
Home advantage should swing it for Galwey's side, handing UCD their first defeat of the season. Nine tries in five games has been a poor return for Shannon, and they might need more than a couple as UCD fly-half Eoghan Hickey is averaging 16 points per game.
Third-placed Clontarf could assume top spot at College Park, if results go their way.
Fourth-from-bottom Dublin University - whose second half haul of four tries saw them unlucky 23-22 losers in Ballymena three weeks ago - entertain 'Tarf in just their second home game this season.
Tony Smeeth's side won their first one, 20-12 over Buccaneers, and but for two draws (24-all v Galwegians, and 20-all v UCD), could be further up the table in their first season.
Having suffered their only loss at Con (19-9) last month, 'Tarf were in buoyant mood in a 32-19 defeat of Garryowen last time out, and have plenty of aces - especially with 11 different players having touched down in the campaign so far.
Former Ireland Under 19 winger Mark Hewitt has bagged two of their twelve tries.
Ballymena have the chance to earn their first away win of the season, as they visit former leaders Garryowen, at Dooradoyle.
Ireland-Under 21 Michael McComish began the season in stunning form, scoring a try-a-game and coach Steph Nel will hope he can again inspire the Eaton Park club.
Garryowen have slipped to fifth overall, losing both of their last two games. Scrum-half Gerry Hurley has top-scored with 44 points so far, for Paul Cunningham's men.
AIB League: Fixtures Saturday, January 15: (kick-off 2.30pm, unless stated)
Dublin University v Clontarf, College Park Garryowen v Ballymena, Dooradoyle Shannon v UCD, Thomond Park
Barnhall v Old Belvedere, Parsontown Highfield v Old Crescent, Woodleigh Park (k.o. 15.00hrs) Malone v Young Munster, Gibson Park St Mary's College v Terenure College, Templeville Road Thomond v Dolphin, Fitzgerald Park UCC v Ballynahinch, The Mardyke Waterpark v DLSP, Ballinakill
Sunday, January 16: (2.30pm)
UL Bohemian v Midleton, Thomond Park
Ards v City of Derry, Hamilton Park Ballina v Banbridge, Heffernan Park Connemara v Bruff, Monastery Field Greystones v Corinthians, Dr Hickey Park Queen's University v Wanderers, Dub Lane Skerries v Clonakilty, Holmpatrick Sunday's Well v Instonians, Musgrave Park Suttonians v Portadown, JJ MacDowell Park