12 Dec, 14:42
Prop Cian Healy is expected to miss the start of the 2014 RBS 6 Nations after undergoing surgery on his injured ankle on Wednesday.
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated -
Garryowen (3rd) v Young Munster (5th), Dooradoyle, Friday Night Lights, 7:30pm
Although these Limerick rivals remain third and fifth respectively in the table, their form has been far from convincing in recent times.
Both have seen their title aspirations disappear. Young Munster have had a particularly bad time, losing four in a four, while Garryowen had a very disappointing 15-12 away defeat to Old Belvedere last weekend.
Even so, there should be no lack of incentive for this Friday night derby encounter. Young Munster, frustrated to be edged out 10-9 at home by Cork Con last Saturday, will be desperate to end their losing run.
Despite the two teams recent poor form, it should still be a hard fought and close battle. Garryowen are bidding for the double over their great rivals having proved victorious 21-14 when the sides met at Clifford Park in April.
Clontarf (2nd) v Dolphin (4th), Castle Avenue
Intriguing encounter. To all intents and purposes the league looks over with Lansdowne 14 points clear but second placed Clontarf have to keep winning.
Effectively, they must attempt to beat Dolphin with a bonus point before facing Lansdowne next week. But that won't be easy as Dolphin are one of the form teams in the league, their latest 32-17 victory over Shannon moving them up into third place.
In fact, this is a meeting between two of the form sides around just now. Clontarf are on a tremendous run, having demolished UL Bohs 47-7 away last Saturday.
The pity for them was that they started their campaign last September so badly with two defeats. They seem to be scoring tries for fun just now, with wing Mick McGrath in great form, but Dolphin will surely prove their toughest test for some time.
Cork Constitution (6th) v Old Belvedere (8th), Temple Hill
OLD BELVEDERE will be looking to build on their surprise 15-12 home victory over Garryowen last weekend. Crucially, the win has moved them ahead of Shannon again up to third last in the table.
But Andy Dunne's team still face a huge battle if they are to stay clear of relegation problems.
Cork Constitution, by their normal high standards, have not had a great campaign. A series of poor results saw them dropping down the table but they did stop the rot by defeat Young Munster last Saturday.
No doubt, they will keen to secure another victory and take revenge for a 44-13 hammering they received at the hands of Old Belvedere at Anglesea Road last November.
St Mary's College (7th) v Shannon (9th), Templeville Road
SHANNON'S bid to move clear of relegation trouble continues with a tough away fixture against St Mary's College.
It will be interesting to see how they react to last Saturday's 32-17to Dolphin.
Previously, they have established some real momentum with a series of good results. They are sure to find themselves in a tough battle as St Mary's are unlikely to do them any favours.
They may well be keen to make a statement after conceding 35 points against Lansdowne. Despite that defeat, St Mary's remain a very decent side.
So, if Shannon are to get a much needed victory, they are going to have to produce one of their best displays of the season.
UL Bohemians v Lansdowne, Annacotty
LAST against first. Quite clearly, Ul Bohs are going to have to make an enormous improvement to have any chance against a Lansdowne side that seems sure to go on and take the title.
While UL Bohs have been conceding lots of points, 47 against Clontarf last weekend, Lansdowne have been scoring them. They are comfortably the highest scorers in the division.
The problem for the opposition is that Mike Ruddock's outfit is capable of achieving victory through their forwards or backs. Last Saturday, their pack set up the big win against St Mary's.
Presumably, UL Bohs will make a huge effort. They have to given their position, but Lansdowne, successful 36-13 against Ul Bohs at the Aviva Stadium earlier in the season, must be be strongly fancied to secure another bonus point success.