Will Dublin clubs Blackrock College and St. Mary’s College be able to maintain their grip on the top spots in AIB League Division 1A, with Munster heavyweights Cork Constitution and Garryowen standing in their way on Saturday, and can champions Shannon secure their first win of the campaign against high-flying Dolphin?
AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, October 24
BLACKROCK COLLEGE (1st) v CORK CONSTITUTION (4th), Stradbrook, 2.30pm
AIB League Current Form – Blackrock College: WW; Cork Constitution: LW
AIB League Top Scorers – Blackrock College: Points: James Power 21; Tries: Andrew Conway 2; Cork Constitution: Points: Richie Lane 10; Tries: Tom Gleeson, Frank Cogan, Darragh Lyons, Richie Lane 1 each
Preview: A lot to look forward to. Leaders Blackrock, containing several Leinster Academy players, really looked the part when scoring six tries in their 48-14 demolition of Garryowen.
But this is going to be an altogether tougher test. Most importantly, Cork Constitution have bundles of experience with Jeremy Manning’s contribution sure to be crucial.
Last Season’s Meeting – Saturday, March 28, 2009: Blackrock College 23 Cork Constitution 7, Stradbrook
Trivia – There were five players from these clubs in the Ireland squad that secured the Grand Slam against Wales last March, four from Cork Constitution (Ronan O’Gara, Donncha O’Callaghan, Mick O’Driscoll and Denis Leamy) and Luke Fitzgerald was the sole representative from Blackrock
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Blackrock College to win by 6-10 points
DOLPHIN (3rd) v SHANNON (6th), Musgrave Park, 2.30pm
AIB League Current Form – Dolphin: WW; Shannon: LL
AIB League Top Scorers – Dolphin: Points: Barry Keeshan 30; Tries: Barry Keeshan, Barry O’Mahony 1 each; Shannon: Points: Tadhg Bennett 7; Tries: David Quinlan, Mossie Lawlor 1 each
Preview: One of just three teams to have won their opening two games, Dolphin are determined to make the top flight play-offs, after missing out by four points last season.
Any side that can overcome Cork Constitution and Clontarf must be good. Just how good will be determined against a Shannon outfit that desperately needs to make a statement after losing their opening two games.
Last Season’s Meeting – Saturday, April 18, 2009: Shannon 27 Dolphin 17, Coonagh
Trivia – Dolphin out-half Barry Keeshan starred for club and country last season. He kicked a last-gasp penalty to secure a 13-13 draw for the Ireland AIB Club International side against England, in a match in which Dolphin flanker Barry O’Mahony scored a try
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Dolphin to win by 1-5 points
GARRYOWEN (5th) v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (2nd), Dooradoyle, 2.30pm
AIB League Current Form – Garryowen: WL; St. Mary’s College: WW
AIB League Top Scorers – Garryowen: Points: Conor Murray 18; Tries: Ronan O’Mahony 1; St. Mary’s College: Points: Gavin Dunne 13; Tries: Robin Copeland 2
Preview: It will be quite an achievement if St. Mary’s College are able to follow up their away success over Shannon with a further victory in Limerick against Garryowen at Dooradoyle.
But they are clearly in with a real chance against a Garryowen side which stuggled against Blackrock last time out. The goalkicking of Conor Murray and Gavin Dunne could swing it either way. The Shay Deering Memorial Trophy will go to the victors.
Last Season’s Meeting – Tuesday, March 17, 2009: St. Mary’s College 8 Garryowen 9, Templeville Road
Trivia – Second row Robin Copeland, who has made a brilliant start to the season, made his full AIB League debut for St. Mary’s College in the 9-8 defeat to Garryowen last March. The Wexford man, a former pupil at Kilkenny College, turns 22 today (Friday)
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: St. Mary’s College to win by 1-5 points
UL BOHEMIANS (7th) v CLONTARF (8th), Thomond Park, 2.30pm
AIB League Current Form – UL Bohemians: LL; Clontarf: LL
AIB League Top Scorers – UL Bohemians: Points: Cathal Sheridan, Ed Torrie 3 each; Tries: -; Clontarf: Points: Martin Dufficy 16; Tries: Sean Carey, Michael Keating 1 each
Preview: Bottom of the table clash. Hard to believe that last season’s beaten finalists Clontarf should have struggled so badly in their opening two games.
Somehow, you feel there is sure to be an improvement. Last weekend’s 50-5 away AIB Cup success over Old Crescent provided some much needed encouragement. UL Bohs, boasting a talented young side, will click at some stage but losing 26-6 to Belfast Harlequins in the cup will have dented their confidence.
Last Season’s Meeting – Saturday, January 24, 2009: UL Bohemians 17 Clontarf 13, Annacotty
Trivia – Clontarf have a potential match winner in out-half Martin Dufficy, but his former Ireland Under-20 team-mate Kieran Essex will have something to say about that. The UL Bohs back rower was part of the Munster ‘A’ squad that gained a 21-15 win over their Leinster counterparts last week
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win by 6-10 points