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Division One Semi-Final Preview: Cork Constitution v Clontarf

Division One Semi-Final Preview: Cork Constitution v Clontarf

Clontarf, perennial play-off challengers and the only Leinster team left in the hunt this season, face a difficult trip to Cork Constitution in Saturday’s semi-final, with the Leesiders unbeaten in their last 19 AIB League matches at Temple Hill.

AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION ONE SEMI-FINAL: Saturday, May 3

CORK CONSTITUTION v CLONTARF, Temple Hill, 2.30pm
Referee: Alain Rolland (Leinster)

Previous AIB League Meetings: 12 (Cork Constitution won 8, Clontarf won 4); At Temple Hill: 4 (Cork Constitution won 4, Clontarf won 0)

This Season: Saturday, February 16, 2008 – Clontarf 7 Cork Constitution 36, Castle Avenue

Recent AIB League Form: Cork Constitution (most recent games on left hand side): WWWWW
Clontarf: WLWWL

Cork Constitution – Notes: * Cork Constitution finished first in the Division One table this season, with a record of played 15, won 13, drawn 1 and lost 1; They had a points differential of +194
* The story at home in Division One so far this season is played 7, won 6 and drawn 1. This weekend they are playing their 52nd AIB League fixture at home to a Leinster club and are seeking their 41st victory
* They first played AIB League rugby against Clontarf in January 1998 and won 11-3 away in Dublin 3. They played eight league games – four at home – against Leinster clubs this season and won all of them
* In fact, Cork Con have won their last 14 Division One encounters with Leinster clubs and their last 19 games at home to them. Their last league defeat at home to a Leinster club (Lansdowne) was on December 12, 2002, five-and-a-half years ago
* They are unbeaten in their last 19 AIB League games at Temple Hill – they have won their last seven matches in Division One this season. Have previously played Clontarf in the league eight times in Dublin and on four occasions in Cork
* This is the eleventh season of the Division One play-offs. Cork Con have made it to six previous semi-finals (Saturday’s game is their fourth semi-final in the last five seasons), and they have won all five semi-finals at Temple Hill
* Winger Cronan Healy has just joined current head coach Brian Walsh as the top AIB League try scorer at the club with 33 touchdowns
* Over 15 Division One rounds this season, they were the club that (a) scored the most tries (41) and conceded the least tries (11), (b) conceded the least points (133), and (c) won the most games (13) and lost the least games (1)

Top Points Scorers In 2007/08 AIB League: Jeremy Manning 86 points, Richie Lane 81 points

Top Try Scorers In 2007/08 AIB League: Richie Lane 10 tries, Tom Gleeson and Cronan Healy 6 tries each

Clontarf – Notes: * Clontarf finished fourth in the Division One table this season, with a record of played 15, won 10 and lost 5; They had a points differential of +52
* The story on the road in Division One so far this season is played 7, won 5 and lost 2 (no defeat outside Dublin). This weekend they are playing their 31st AIB League fixture away in Munster and they are seeking their 11th victory
* They have won their last three Division One games away in Munster. Have not avoided defeat on their four previous league visits to Temple Hill
* They are on a hat-trick of AIB League defeats by Cork Con. Have spent the last eleven seasons in Division One
* They have played in five previous Division One semi-finals – have won two of their three home semi-finals but have yet to win a semi on the road
* Have previously met Saturday’s opponents in a Division One semi-final – they beat Cork Con 26-6 at Castle Avenue in May 2006. They finished as the top Leinster club in the top flight this season and in five of the previous six years
* This weekend’s clashes mark the fifth time in all (and the third consecutive season) that one Leinster club and three Munster clubs have it through to the Division One play-offs
* Peter O’Brien, who is in the Clontarf squad, scored a try for Cork Con against ‘Tarf in the AIB League during the 2004/05 season

Top Points Scorers In 2007/08 AIB League: Ian Keatley 79 points, Daragh O’Shea 48 points

Top Try Scorers In 2007/08 AIB League: Derek Keane 5 tries, Daragh O’Shea and Max Rantz-McDonald 4 tries each

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win by more than 7 points

– AIB League statistics supplied by Des Daly