18 May, 11:09
IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne has issued a statement following confirmation of Ronan O'Gara's decision to retire from playing professional rugby.
Kick-off 7.30pm unless stated -
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CLONTARF (6th) v LANSDOWNE (1st), Castle Avenue
Ulster Bank League Season's Form - Clontarf: LLWW; Lansdowne: WWWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers - Clontarf: Points: Richie Lane 41; Tries: Martin Garvey, Timmy McCoy 2 each; Lansdowne: Points: Craig Ronaldson 50; Tries: Cian Aherne 6
Preview: Leaders Lansdowne must pick themselves up after the disappointment of losing a big lead against Cork Constitution last weekend. They will not find it easy at Castle Avenue.
Clontarf boss Andy Wood must be given a lot of credit for getting his charges going again following defeats in their opening two games. Their 18-11 away success over Young Munster suggests that they are now in pretty good shape.
They will feel they are in with a definite chance against Lansdowne on the basis that they beat them twice last season, including a 25-13 success at Castle Avenue. Then again, Lansdowne are a must improved side this season.
Mike Ruddock's outfit are still playing some of the best rugby in the competition, with winger Cian Aherne scoring five tries in two games. But they did pass up some other great opportunites against Cork Con and they simply cannot afford to make the same mistakes this time.
Recent League Meetings - Friday, October 28, 2011: Clontarf 25 Lansdowne 13, Castle Avenue; Saturday, April 21, 2012: Lansdowne 27 Clontarf 28, Aviva Stadium main pitch
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win by 1-5 points
CORK CONSTITUTION (4th) v DOLPHIN (3rd), Temple Hill
Ulster Bank League Season's Form - Cork Constitution: WLWW; Dolphin: LWWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers - Cork Constitution: Points: Johnny Holland 16; Tries: Darragh Lyons 3; Dolphin: Points: Barry Keeshan 39; Tries: Harry Fleming, Cian Bohane, Rob O'Herlihy, Christy Condon, James Cronin, Chris Bannon, Eamon Mills 1 each
Preview: Another top class game in prospect between these to great rivals. Any derby match is good but this should be extra special because Cork Constitution and Dolphin are both in the top four.
Three successive wins have left Dolphin in third spot, while Cork Con are just a point adrift in fourth. Normally there might be a tendancy to underestimate Dolphin but there's no chance of that following their 32-14 victory over St. Mary's College.
But Cork Con's 25-22 triumph away to Lansdowne was every bit as impressive, given that they came from 22-8 down.
It is the third time they have won games deep into injury time, so, quite clearly, Brian Walsh's team do not lack self belief.
Out-half Johnny Holland was the hero with his superb goal-kicking and general play. But Dolphin also have a match winner at out-half in Barry Keeshan, so there is not likely to be much in it.
Recent League Meetings - Friday, October 14, 2011: Dolphin 10 Cork Constitution 17, Musgrave Park; Friday, March 2, 2012: Cork Constitution 29 Dolphin 28, Temple Hill
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win by 1-5 points
GARRYOWEN (2nd) v SHANNON (10th), Dooradoyle
Ulster Bank League Season's Form - Garryowen: WWWL; Shannon: LLLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers - Garryowen: Points: Jamie Gavin 53; Tries: Barry O'Mahony 4; Shannon: Points: Rob Guerin 16; Tries: John Shine 2
Preview: This would seem to be a marvellous opportunity for second-placed Garryown to return to winning form after their defeat by UL Bohemians last time out.
Sadly, nothing is going right for Shannon. You might have expected them to prove reasonably competitive against another of the teams down towards the end of the table, Old Belvedere, last Saturday but they were anihiliated 45-13. Quite clearly then, they have massive problems to sort out.
Hopefully, from their point of view, a game against one of their major local rivals is just what they need to get things going after coaching duo Stephen Keogh and Eoin Cahill stepped down.
But it is hard to see. Garryowen, after all, are second from top with three wins out of four while Shannon have lost all of their four games, conceding a massive 160 points.
Recent League Meetings - Friday, March 2, 2012: Shannon 17 Garryowen 29, Thomond Park; Friday, March 9, 2012: Garryowen 20 Shannon 20, Dooradoyle
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Garryowen to win by 6-10 points
ST. MARY'S COLLEGE (9th) v OLD BELVEDERE (8th), Templeville Road
Ulster Bank League Season's Form - St. Mary's College: WLLL; Old Belvedere: LLLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers - St. Mary's College: Points: Ray Crotty 13; Tries: Marcus O'Driscoll, Kevin Croke, Kevin Sheahan, Robbie Hudson 1 each; Old Belvedere: Points: Steve Crosbie 15; Tries: David Mongan, Daniel Riordan, Eddie Devitt 2 each
Preview: Crunch time for St. Mary's College. After losing three in-a-row to lie second from bottom, they simply cannot afford another defeat.
In truth, their chances of retaining the title are already in considerable trouble. To be fair to their new head coach Hugh Hogan, he has not been helped by the injury situation.
At the same time, their 32-14 away defeat to Dolphin was very disappointing and they will be looking for a big improvement. While Old Belvedere are also down near the bottom of the table, they did get a big boost with their runaway 45-13 victory over Shannon.
Okay, Shannon are leaking tries but the win proved that Old Belvedere are quite capable of playing some good running rugby. So, this is quite an interesting match-up.
Recent League Meetings - Friday, November 25, 2011: St. Mary's College 15 Old Belvedere 10, Templeville Road; Saturday, January 28, 2012: Old Belvedere 10 St. Mary's College 27, Anglesea Road
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: St. Mary's College to win by 1-5 points
UL BOHEMIANS (7th) v YOUNG MUNSTER (5th), Thomond Park
Ulster Bank League Season's Form - UL Bohemians: LWLW; Young Munster: WWLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers - UL Bohemians: Points: JJ Hanrahan 27; Tries: Mossy Lawler, Rory White 2 each; Young Munster: Points: Brian Haugh 45; Tries: Mark Doyle 2
Preview: The second of the derby matches in Limerick. Unlike the other one, where Garryowen are expected to win, this game is very hard to call.
UL Bohemians will not be lacking in confidence after inflicting a first defeat on Garryowen. Importantly, they had Munster's JJ Hanrahan back at out-half after missing the defeat by Clontarf.
But the real improvement was the desire shown by their pack. They will obviously need to show that same approach against another of their their local rivals.
Young Munster have to pick themselves up after losing an 11-0 lead at home to Clontarf. No doubt, Mike Prendergast will get them going again for a match which seems sure to be fiercely fought and very close.
Recent League Meeting - Saturday, November 29, 2008: UL Bohemians 24 Young Munster 6, Thomond Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win by 1-5 points