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AIB League: Division One Previews

AIB League: Division One Previews

It’s week three of a four-week block of matches in AIB League Division One. Five sides will be putting their unbeaten records at risk around the country.

Blackrock player-coach Dave Dillon

It’s week three of a four-week block of matches in AIB League Division One. Five sides will be putting their unbeaten records at risk around the country.

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AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION ONE: Saturday, October 29 (2.30pm)

Ballymena v Cork Constitution, Eaton Park

Steph Nel’s beleaguered Ballymena have to win sooner rather than later, but with Cork Con riding high, a home win may not be on the cards.

Dirkie Strydom and Adam Larkin help out in the backs and prop Simon Shaw has bagged two tries in two games, but the Ulster side are just not getting the breaks and Con look too good at present.

Previous Meetings: 04/05: Cork Con 30 Ballymena 20; 03/04: Ballymena 6 Cork Con 8; 02/03: Cork Con 5 Ballymena 29; 01/02: Cork Con 16 Ballymena 10; 00/01: Cork Con 23 Ballymena 11

League Positions: Ballymena (15th), Cork Con (2nd)

Top Scorers: Ballymena: Simon Shaw 10; Cork Con: Conor Quaid 29

AIL Odds: Ballymena 33/1, Cork Con 3/1 (Paddy Power)

Belfast Harlequins v UCD, Deramore Park

Harlequins have a proud record against UCD – three wins in three league outings – and should have enough in reserve to pick up a first home win in Division One for new coach Andy Ward.

Ireland Under-21 Mark Kettyle returns from injury at full-back for ‘Quins while the students are again without inspirational fly half Eoghan Hickey, who is on the Leinster bench for Sunday’s Heineken Cup tie in Glasgow.

Previous Meetings: 04/05: UCD 17 Harlequins 22; 03/04: Harlequins 24 UCD 23; 02/03: Harlequins 52 UCD 29; 01/02: -; 00/01:

League Positions: Harlequins (10th), UCD (8th)

Top Scorers: Harlequins: Michael Glancy 28; UCD: Eoghan Hickey 11

AIL Odds: Harlequins 9/1, UCD 33/1 (Paddy Power)

Buccaneers v Lansdowne, Dubarry Park

Buccaneers have had the edge on Lansdowne in recent meetings, including last season’s 17-16 win at headquarters.

Tom Cregan has been in accurate form for the Pirates and Geoff Moylan’s side could be about to put a run together after beating Ballymena last week. Lansdowne though are one of the top flight’s form sides at the moment – Kiwi fly half Corey Burt tops the scoring charts after his 20-point haul against UCD last Sunday.

Too close to call but home advantage should swing it for Buccs.

Previous Meetings: 04/05: Lansdowne 16 Buccs 17; 03/04: Buccs 32 Lansdowne 14; 02/03: Buccs 8 Lansdowne 3; 01/02: Lansdowne 20 Buccs 0; 00/01:

League Positions: Buccs (9th), Lansdowen (4th)

Top Scorers: Buccs: Tom Cregan 34; Lansdowne: Corey Burt 38

AIL Odds: Buccs 16/1, Lansdowne 22/1 (Paddy Power)

Dublin University v Shannon, College Park

Shannon’s first ever visit to College Park looks like a stonewall away win.

Mick Galwey’s side are showing enough form, although last week’s win against Galwegians was patchy, to deserve their top ranking at present. Donnacha Ryan has been showing well in the second row for the champions and league veteran Andrew Thompson is marshalling his troops at number 10.

Luck deserted Trinity against Blackrock last week – Paddy O’Toole kicked a last-gasp penalty for a 21-19 ‘Rock win – but they will need a large slice of it here if they are to nab the points or a bonus point.

Previous Meetings: 04/05: Shannon 25 Dublin Uni 18; 03/04: -; 02/03: -; 01/02: -; 00/01:

League Positions: Dublin Uni (12th), Shannon (1st)

Top Scorers: Dublin Uni: Johnny Watt 24; Shannon: Andrew Thompson 28

AIL Odds: Dublin Uni 150/1, Shannon 7/4 fav (Paddy Power)

Dungannon v Clontarf, Stevenson Park

Pipped 29-28 last week by UL Bohs, Clontarf face into a difficult away trip to Dungannon.

The Tyrone side have not taken their Ulster Senior League form into the AIB League, maybe that will come. ‘Tarf will be hopeful of repeating 2001/2002’s 28-0 victory at Stevenson Park with their young backline currently on song. Left winger Derek Keane is Division One’s top try scorer with four.

But ‘Gannon are a defensively tight unit and with Gareth Steenson at fly half, they should win.

Previous Meetings: 04/05: Clontarf 32 Dungannon 19; 03/04: Dungannon 15 Clontarf 8; 02/03: Clontarf 23 Dungannon 13; 01/02: Dungannon 0 Clontarf 28; 00/01:

League Positions: Dungannon (11th), Clontarf (6th)

Top Scorers: Dungannon: Gareth Steenson 24; Clontarf: Peter O’Brien 22

AIL Odds: Dungannon: 20/1, Clontarf 9/1 (Paddy Power)

Galwegians v Garryowen, Crowley Park

In their last two league meetings, Garryowen have put 25+ points on ‘Wegians, and with the Galway side’s new coach Paul Young under pressure after two straight defeats, today’s visitors look set for another big victory.

‘Wegians are yet to score a try and are living off the boot of John Cleary, while Garryowen have had scorers from 1 to 15. Centre Kevin Hartigan has touched down twice in two games.

Previous Meetings: 04/05: Garryowen 33 Galwegians 11; 03/04: Galwegians 8 Garryowen 27; 02/03: Garryowen 6 Galwegians 20; 01/02: Galwegians 22 Garryowen 12; 00/01: Garryowen 23 Galwegians 22

League Positions: Galwegians (13th), Garryowen (3rd)

Top Scorers: Galwegians: John Cleary 12; Garryowen: Conan Doyle 15

AIL Odds: Galwegians 125/1, Garryowen 11/2 (Paddy Power)

St Mary’s College v County Carlow, Templeville Road

Two of the top flight’s bottom three sides clash at Templeville Road – a certain six-pointer for the season ahead.

Both have been struggling to score tries of late, but St Mary’s superior backline should see them win out.

Previous Meetings: 04/05: -; 03/04: Carlow 36 St Mary’s 6; 02/03: Carlow 10 St Mary’s 22; 01/02: St Mary’s 19 Carlow 8; 00/01:

League Positions: St Mary’s (16th), Carlow (14th)

Top Scorers: St Mary’s: Jonathan Sexton 6; Carlow: Greg Jacob 18

AIL Odds: St Mary’s 50/1, Carlow 500/1 (Paddy Power)

UL Bohemians v Blackrock College, Annacotty

Surely not a repeat of the sides’ 2002/03 meeting when ‘Rock ran riot in a 51-19 victory? Bohs are going well at the minute on their return to Division One, holding their own in fact.

With home advantage, they should more than hold their own against the Dubliners, especially with Martin McPhail, Ben Martin and Fergal Lawlor showing solid form in the backs.

Previous Meetings: 04/05: -; 03/04: -; 02/03: Blackrock 51 UL Bohs 19; 01/02: -; 00/01: –

League Positions: UL Bohs (7th), Blackrock (5th)

Top Scorers: UL Bohs Fergal Lawlor 20; Blackrock: Paddy O’Toole 16

AIL Odds: UL Bohs 66/1, Blackrock 25/1 (Paddy Power)