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AIB League: Division One Previews

AIB League: Division One Previews

Read on for previews of Saturday’s eight AIB League Division One matches and the latest team news from around the country’s top clubs.

AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION ONE: Saturday, October 25

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

BALLYMENA (14th) v UL BOHEMIANS (6th), Eaton Park

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Ballymena began the season impressively, with new out-half Ian Humphreys driving them to a 21-10 home win over Young Munster.

And Jacques Benade’s men will need a similar type of performance to outlast UL Bohemians at Eaton Park on Saturday.

The Braidmen need to make use of their early run of home fixtures and last week’s 19-5 loss to Galwegians saw them bullied into submission in their own back yard.

Benade has largely kept faith with the team that went down to ‘Wegians, making just two changes.

Peter Budina comes in for Nigel Hall on the right wing and there is a switch at hooker with James Taggart preferred to Andrew Ferguson.

Former Ulster centre Seamus Mallon continues his midfield partnership with the promising Ian Whitten, while Simon Shawe, Ian Caldwell and Chris Henry provide a strong spine in the pack.

The Martin McPhail-captained Bohemians squeezed past Buccaneers 9-8 last weekend, with Aidan McNulty kicking two second half penalties.

For the long trip north, UL boss Ian Costello has tinkered with his back-line bringing in Ed Torrie and former Sligo player Cathal Sheridan.

There are also changes in the Bohs back row with former club captain Aidan O’Gorman and Tommy O’Donnell replacing Ryan Hartigan and James O’Neill.

O’Donnell, a highly-rated member of the Munster Academy, suffered a ‘stinger’ in Bohs’ league opener against Galwegians but is back close to full fitness.

There are match winners in both sides but the Braidmen, with home advantage, should be the hungrier to pull off a win ahead of the break for the autumn internationals.

BALLYMENA: J Smith; P Budina, I Whitten, S Mallon, T Seymour; T Woods, R McCrudden; A Kirkpatrick, J Taggart, S Shawe, I Caldwell (capt), B Young, T Booth, A Cupples, C Henry.

UL BOHEMIANS: E Torrie; M McPhail (capt), G Boland, C Finn, F Lawlor; C Sheridan, C Delooze; K Flanagan, S Henry, M Storey, B Madigan, D Foley, K Essex, A O’Gorman, T O’Donnell.

DUNGANNON (12th) v DOLPHIN (10th), Stevenson Park

Dolphin will be without their inspirational number 8 James Coughlan for this trip to Tyrone, following his call-up to the Munster replacements bench.

Coughlan will be on duty against Ulster in Saturday’s Magners League derby at Ravenhill, as Dolphin look to recover from last week’s 16-11 defeat at Old Belvedere.

The Corkmen will show two personnel changes from that game – Rory Kenneally comes in on the right wing and Kevin Lynch makes way. There is a vacancy at number 8.

For Dungannon, who opened their win account last Saturday by edging UCD 15-13, second row Neil Jenkinson is set to return after a bout of ‘flu.

‘Gannon supremo John Andrews has selected an unchanged back-line, with former Ireland Under-20 winger Chris Cochrane a livewire on the left flank.

James Shiells continues at out-half with the injured Richard McCarter still three weeks away from making a return.

In the forwards, Alastair Birch makes way for the return of Jenkinson. The rejigging also sees Neville Magee move into the back row.

With flankers Andrew Gardner and Derek Hall, who has three tries to his name already, impressing of late, Dungannon may just edge this game.

Although the hefty left boot of AIB Club international Barry Keeshan could well swing it in the visitors’ favour.

DUNGANNON: R Andrews; J McGuckin, P Magee, N Paterson, C Cochrane; J Shiells, J Bates; G Sinnamon, B McNamee, D Fitzpatrick, N Jenkinson, M Rainey (capt), A Gardner, D Hall, N Magee.

DOLPHIN: D McCarthy; R Kenneally, A Ross, W de Bruin, P Hurley; B Keeshan, G O’Keeffe; F Gately, T O’Callaghan, D Ryan, C Rowe, D Harty (capt), G Finn, B O’Mahony, AN Other.

GALWEGIANS (7th) v OLD BELVEDERE (2nd), Crowley Park

Old Belvedere will put their unbeaten record on the line when they travel west this weekend to face another of Division One’s form teams, Galwegians.

‘Wegians secured their first league away in Ballymena last Saturday and will be determined to build on that success when the Dubliners visit them.

With John Lyne required by Connacht, Brian McGovern has been promoted to the Galway side’s front row.

Talented young flanker Nick McCarthy also joins Ivan Muldoon and Liam Casserly in the back row, at the expense of Richie Dodd.

Old Belvedere have recorded successive wins over UCD (30-14), Young Munster (13-9) and Dolphin (16-11) and have really gelled together under new coach Phil Werahiko.

From the power plays of Leo Auva’a and team captain Richie Leyden to the attacking verve of Eoin O’Malley and Felix Jones, Belvo are on an upward curve.

‘Wegians are also building momentum, making Saturday’s clash all the more intriguing.

Tireless winger John Cleary will enjoy a ding-dong battle with Belvo’s Kevin Barden, but it is in the forwards where this tie will probably be decided.

Barden will start in place of Eddie Devitt, one of Belvedere’s try scorers against Dolphin last time out, while Erik Jackman is replaced in the second row by David White, a recent signing from UCD.

‘Wegians, who got the better of Ballymena’s eight at Eaton Park last weekend, may just hold the advantage up front. Expect a tight one.

GALWEGIANS: R O’Beirne; J Cleary, C Brigl, C Rodgers, B Murphy; M Brandon, B Draper; B McGovern, C Muldoon, J Stephens, D Nolan, L Scahill, N McCarthy, I Muldoon (capt), L Casserly.

OLD BELVEDERE: F Jones; D Mongan, E O’Malley, M McAllister, K Barden; K Hurrell, R Cushion; D Wyeth, P Hogan, J Hagan, P Spivey, D White, R Leyden (capt), J Risdon, L Auva’a.

ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (5th) v CORK CONSTITUTION (4th), Templeville Road

Cork Constitution’s 11-match winning streak in the AIB League was brought to an unexpected end by a determined Young Munster side last Saturday.

Matt Costello was in inspired form as Munsters came away from a shellshocked Temple Hill with a 21-16 verdict, pushing Cork Con down to fourth in the table.

St. Mary’s College were knocked off the summit last weekend, going down 30-19 to a Michael Keating-inspired Clontarf.

The Mary’s pack too a bit of a hammering against Clontarf and they will not want a repeat performance against the defending champions.

Paul Nash, who sustained a head injury early on against ‘Tarf, is fit to resume on the blindside of the Dubliners’ scrum, with his fellow back rower Kevin Sheehan the only change to the pack.
Mark Sexton is out injured so Conor Hogan has been pencilled in to start on the left wing, with Conor McPhillips and Conor Donohoe linking together in Mary’s midfield.

Cork Con are yet to reveal their starting line-up but two definite absentees are injured hooker Frankie Sheahan and lock Mick O’Driscoll who will captain Munster against Ulster at Ravenhill.

Mary’s and Constitution are also down to meet in the AIB Cup the following weekend so they better get familiar with each other! After ‘hiccups’ last weekend, expect this one to be very keenly-contested.

ST. MARY’S COLLEGE: D Fanning; P Brophy, C McPhillips, C Donohoe, C Hogan; S McCarthy, M D’Arcy; R Sweeney, M Duggan, R Murphy, G Logan (capt), C McInerney, P Nash, H Hogan, K Sheehan.

CORK CONSTITUTION: to be confirmed

TERENURE COLLEGE (16th) v SHANNON (9th), Lakelands Park

Bottom side Terenure College entertain Shannon at Lakelands, desperate for a win after three successive league defeats (to Cork Constitution, Clontarf and Blackrock College).

‘Nure, under coach Kevin West, have been playing decent rugby but not getting the results and it is hard to see that trend changing on Saturday unless Shannon suffer another off-day.

The eight-time champions have struggled for form in the early season and required a late penalty last week from Tadhg Bennett to nab a 17-17 draw with Garryowen at a floodlit Thomond Park.

Shannon have the experienced Fiach O’Loughlin and Andrew Thompson getting back to full fitness but they will have to do without prop Tony Buckley, whose services are required by Munster in Belfast.

Shannon won 27-12 when these sides met at Coonagh last March and they should prevail again, despite the best efforts of Alex Dunlop and company.

The visitors are yet to confirm their starting line-up, but Terenure have altered their back-line – Cathal Morley and Graham Coffey are new additions and goal-kicker David McAllister has been switched from inside centre to out-half.

The Dubliners will also line out with an entirely new front row of Stephen Knoop, Johnny Barretto and Kevin Mahony.

TERENURE COLLEGE: D Cazabon; C Morley, J Bollard, G Coffey, A Hughes; D McAllister, G Flanagan; J Barretto, K Mahony, S Knoop, K O’Dwyer, B Moroney, J Dever, C Connolly, A Dunlop (capt).

SHANNON: to be confirmed

UCD (15th) v BLACKROCK COLLEGE (1st), Belfield

Unless they are ‘nilled’, table toppers Blackrock College will push through the 100-point barrier against UCD and more than likely record their fourth straight win.

The students, who are winless and second-from-bottom, will need a big performance to break their duck against their Dublin rivals.

But UCD were unfortunate to lose 9-7 to Cork Constitution last time out at Belfield and if their pack can get a grip on the game, they have the players out wide to do damage.

‘Rock, however, have been scoring tries for fun in recent weeks, against teams of the calibre of Shannon, Garryowen and Terenure College, and they look very hard to stop.

They boast the top flight’s form wingers in Shane Monahan (5 tries) and David Rowan (3 tries) and a free-scoring number 10 in young Darragh Fitzpatrick (36 points).

It should be a lot closer than last weekend’s 28-3 triumph over Terenure, but expect the Emmet Farrell and Barry Gibney-coached ‘Rock side to come out on the right side of the result.

Teams to be confirmed

YOUNG MUNSTER (11th) v CLONTARF (3rd), Tom Clifford Park

Buoyed by their heroic win at Cork Constitution last Saturday, Young Munster will host another of Division One’s perennial high flyers, Clontarf, this weekend and a sizable crowd is expected.

The Cookies’ last AIB League meeting with Clontarf was back in March 2002 when the Limerick men went down 37-10 at Castle Avenue.

Young Munster clinically took their chances when they arose against Cork Con and with their lineout and back row unit of Johnny Griffin, Shane Hassett and Mark McHugh really on fire.

Flanker Liam Og Murphy, arguably Munsters’ best player last season, is being missed though, as he receives from a knee operation.

And the hosts will miss the experience and guile of scrum half Mike Prendergast, who will be otherwise engaged as he has earned a place on the Munster replacements bench against Ulster.

Clontarf, who scored an impressive 30-19 win over St. Mary’s College last week, could be without second row Cameron Jowitt and also flanker Sean O’Brien, who is on duty for Leinster against Glasgow Warriors.

‘Tarf’s man of the moment, young winger Michael Keating, will be a player to watch. Terenure College and St. Mary’s could not cope with his pace as the former Belvedere College pupil ran in two tries against them both.

With centre Breffni O’Donnell pulling the strings in midfield and putting in some big tackles of late, and out-half Martin Dufficy kicking well, the north Dubliners should be able to rack up enough points to see them continue their unbeaten start to the league campaign. 

YOUNG MUNSTER: to be confirmed

CLONTARF: P Howard; M Keating, D O’Shea (capt), B O’Donnell, M Rantz-MacDonald; M Dufficy, P O’Donohoe; J Wickham, A Dundon, N Treston, C Jowitt/B Reilly, S Crawford, H Stride, S O’Brien/B Focas, M Garvey.

GARRYOWEN (13th) v BUCCANEERS (8th), Dooradoyle, 5pm

Eager for a league win before the autumn international break, Garryowen will flick on the floodlights for the visit of Buccaneers to Dooradoyle.

Both sides will have been disappointed with their results last weekend.

Alate try from Lorcan Bourke looked to have secured Garryowen a win only arch rivals Shannon until they leaked an injury-time penalty, goaled by Tadhg Bennett.

Indiscipline and a spiralling error count saw Buccaneers lose their grip on an 8-0 lead against UL Bohemians, and the Pirates eventually slipped to a one-point defeat as Fergal Lawlor and Aidan McNulty kicked Bohs to victory.

With Garryowen full-back Conor Kilroy in form from place-kicks, the penalty count could decide Saturday evening’s encounter.

Dara O’Sullivan’s light blues are fourth-from-bottom in the Division One table, relying on bonus points, and a win this weekend could light the touch paper for the rest of the season.

The same could be said for Buccs, who are just three points ahead in eighth place. Coached by Tony Dolan and Jude Lennon, the Dubarry Park residents have yet to find their top gears since gaining promotion from Division Two last term.

A lengthy injury list has not helped. For the trip to Limerick, they may be able to call on Connacht’s Daniel Riordan for an added attacking option at full-back. He missed last week’s game with a hamstring injury.

Buccs supporters will be expecting a lot more from their pack which was strangely subdued against Bohs, although prop Kevin Moran was a deserved winner of the man-of-the-match accolade.

They will be without injured place-kicker Alan Gaughan and lock David Gannon’s services are required by Connacht, but the Buccs line-up is largely the same one which took to the pitch last time out.

Garryowen will be forced into changes. Kieran Lewis and Mark Melbourne are on Munster duty this weekend but the Limerick men have enough invention and pace out wide, particularly in Conan Doyle and Ciaran O’Boyle, to make sure of the points here.

GARRYOWEN: to be confirmed

BUCCANEERS: D Riordan; J O’Brien, A Hayman, J Brady, N O’Hara (capt); S Rolleston, M Bruce; B Gilligan, M Madden, K Moran, A TePou, D Gannon, K Kiripati, K O’Gorman, A Hanley.