The AIB League resumes this afternoon with a number of mouth-watering ties in Division One. Click here for match previews.
AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION ONE: Saturday, December 3 (all kick-offs 2.30pm, unless stated)
– FIXTURES –
Ballymena v Blackrock College, Eaton Park (2.15pm)
Can Ballymena end their four-game losing streak in the league? They may have to do it the hard way as top scorer Dirkie Strydom is struggling with a calf injury.
Blackrock have won the last three league meetings between the sides, and are going well in eighth place currently.
Previous Meetings: 04/05: Blackrock 33 Ballymena 17; 03/04: Ballymena 8 Blackrock 13; 02/03: Blackrock 22 Ballymena 19; 01/02: Ballymena 20 Blackrock 13; 00/01: –
Top Scorers: Ballymena: Dirkie Strydom 22; Blackrock: Paddy O’Toole 37
AIL Odds: Ballymena 50/01, Blackrock 66/1 (Paddy Power)
Buccaneers v Clontarf, Dubarry Park
Two top flight regulars going toe-to-toe. A very physical encounter can be expected with both sides’ packs particularly strong.
Buccs are coming off the back of last Saturday’s 28-16 AIB Cup Preliminary Round win against Ballymena, but ‘Tarf, with the league’s top try scorer Derek Keane (5) included, will severely test them. The Dubliners are also unbeaten in four league meetings with the Braidmen.
Previous Meetings: 04/05: Clontarf 30 Buccs 10; 03/04: Buccs 12 Clontarf 12; 02/03: Clontarf 32 Buccs 17; 01/02: Buccs 14 Clontarf 19; 00/01: –
Top Scorers: Buccaneers: Tom Cregan 52; Clontarf: Peter O’Brien 37
AIL Odds: Buccaneers 25/1, Clontarf 8/1 (Paddy Power)
Dublin University v County Carlow, College Park
Only the second ever Division One meeting between the sides. Carlow won last year’s encounter, but this is truly an eight-pointer as both Trinity and Carlow are sitting in the bottom three currently.
At least one of them is destined to end their losing streak today unless there is a draw in the capital. Home advantage should see Tony Smeeth’s men pull through.
Previous Meetings: 04/05: Dublin Uni 10 Carlow 20; 03/04: -; 02/03: -; 01/02: -; 00/01: –
Top Scorers: Dublin Uni: Johnny Watt 29; Carlow: Greg Jacob 29
AIL Odds: Dublin Uni 150/1, Carlow 500/1 (Paddy Power)
Dungannon v Shannon, Stevenson Park
A repeat of last year’s 52-8 win for Shannon? Not likely, even if the reigning champions and table toppers are unbeaten so far after four games.
Dungannon are a vastly improved outfit from last season – a number of young players have come through in the pack – and lie fifth before kick-off. Mick Galwey’s visitors should still have too much class despite missing hooker Jerry Flannery, back row Stephen Keogh amongst others to Munster.
Previous Meetings: 04/05: Shannon 52 Dungannon 8; 03/04: Dungannon 8 Shannon 26; 02/03: Shannon 25 Dungannon 18; 01/02: Dungannon 14 Shannon 22; 00/01: –
Top Scorers: Dungannon: Gareth Steenson 51; Shannon: Andrew Thompson 57
AIL Odds: Dungannon 16/1, Shannon 11/8 fav (Paddy Power)
Lansdowne v Cork Constitution, Lansdowne Road
Cork Constitution head to Dublin defending a four-game unbeaten record. Placed second, Brian Walsh’s young side have done exceptionally well so far and they meet a Lansdowne side in the midst of a mini-slump.
Beaten in their last two outings, and having shown just three points in 160 minutes of league rugby, Lansdowne really need a confidence-boosting display. And top scoring fly-half Corey Burt to lead off the scrum.
Previous Meetings: 04/05: Cork Con 22 Lansdowne 11; 03/04: Lansdowne 18 Cork Con 0; 02/03: Cork Con 17 Lansdowne 27; 01/02: Lansdowne 8 Cork Con 8; 00/01: –
Top Scorers: Lansdowne: Corey Burt 41; Cork Con: Conor Quaid 41
AIL Odds: Lansdowne 40/1, Cork Con 3/1 (Paddy Power)
St Mary’s College v Belfast Harlequins, Templeville Road
Sixth-placed Belfast Harlequins meet Mary’s in another interesting encounter. The Ulster’s last visit to Templeville Road resulted in a one-point win back in 2002/03.
‘Quins travel south without scrum half Reece Spee, meaning Michael Finlay will partner number 10 Michael Glancy at half-back.
‘Quins boss Andy Ward is also without rops John Andress (knee) and Chris Tipene (illness) and back row Chris McCarey.
Previous Meetings: 04/05: -; 03/04: Harlequins 24 St Mary’s 9; 02/03: St Mary’s 18 Harlequins 19; 01/02: -; 00/01: Harlequins 15 St Mary’s 22
Top Scorers: St Mary’s: Jonathan Sexton 29; Harlequins: Michael Glancy 44
AIL Odds: St Mary’s 50/1, Harlequins 9/1 (Paddy Power)
UCD v Galwegians, Belfield
Their 20-18 win over Carlow last time out will have given ‘Wegians a good deal of confidence but UCD away are always a tough proposition.
UCD fly-half Eoghan Hickey, who had an impressive outing for Leinster ‘A’ last weekend, is with the Leinster squad in Galway so College will have to do it without the blonde bombshell but they should manage.
Previous Meetings: 04/05: Galwegians 13 UCD 19; 03/04: UCD 15 Galwegians 14; 02/03: Galwegians 20 UCD 6; 01/02: -; 00/01: –
Top Scorers: UCD: Eoghan Hickey 26; Galwegians: John Cleary 12
AIL Odds: UCD 50/1, Galwegians 100/1 (Paddy Power)
UL Bohemians v Garryowen, Thomond Park
Fifth-from-bottom UL Bohs meet second-placed Garryowen in an eagerly-anticipated Limerick derby.
Bohs succeeded in beating Garryowen in the 2002/03 meeting but Paul Cunningham’s visitors to Thomond Park are in flying form and proved it by beating Cork Con in last weekend’s ODM Munster Senior Cup quarter-final.
Previous Meetings: 04/05: -; 03/04: -; 02/03: Garryowen 26 UL Bohs 29; 01/02: -; 00/01: –
Top Scorers: Bohs: Fergal Lawlor 25; Garryowen: Conor Kilroy 19
AIL Odds: UL Bohs 100/1, Garryowen 11/2 (Paddy Power)