The third round of the AIB Cup kicks off in style tonight when Division 2 table toppers Lansdowne play host to Division 1A high flyers Blackrock under the floodlights at the RDS. The rest of the action continues on Saturday with Cork Constitution v Shannon a huge game in Munster, while the Old Belvedere v Clontarf will whet appetites in the capital.
AIB CUP: THIRD ROUND: Friday, November 6-Sunday, November 8
LANSDOWNE v BLACKROCK COLLEGE, The RDS, 7.30pm (Friday, November 6)
Preview: This is possibly the tie of the round and one for all the Leinster fans who may be worried about their Friday night rugby fix!
Blackrock suffered their first defeat in the league last weekend when they were edged out 9-3 by Clontarf. That said, their backline is chocful of talented Leinster Academy players and they have the experienced Des Dillon up front to marshall the troops.
Lansdowne, meanwhile, are flying high at the top of Division 2 with four wins out of four and and a try-scoring bonus point in all bar one match.
They have scored 149 points and only conceded 28 points but will their ambitions in the league distract them in the cup or can they keep the form on both fronts?
‘Rock were pipped at the post in the AIB Cup final two seasons ago and may feel their name is on the trophy this term.
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win by 1-5 points
BALLYMENA v YOUNG MUNSTER, Eaton Park, 2.30pm (Saturday, November 7)
Preview: This is an all-Division 1B clash with the third-place side at home to second. The Braidmen knocked out Bective Rangers in the second round and have won two from four in the league, beating last season’s AIB Cup winners Ballynahinch and also UCC.
Young Munster accounted for Terenure College in the second round and are currently second in Division 1B with two wins and a draw.
The Cookies come into this game on the back of a big win over Ballynahinch last weekend but they did lose out to another Ulster club, Dungannon, recently. With Alan Kingsley nursing an ankle injury, director of rugby Mike Prendergast and Munster scrum half Toby Morland will continue their half-back partnership.
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Ballymena to win by 6-10 points
BALLYMENA: J Nichol; R McBurney, M Banks, C Brigl, S Castles; R Drysdale, D O’Hara; J Smith, R Fisher, S Shawe, D Best, B Young, R Hackney, P Pritchard, S McKinney (capt).
YOUNG MUNSTER: R Moloney; A Carroll, I Cross, C Clohessy, D Corcoran; M Prendergast, T Morland; G Flaherty, G Slattery (capt), D Murphy, K Hanley, S O’Neill, S Hassett, J O’Neill, N Melbourne.
BELFAST HARLEQUINS v DOLPHIN, Deramore Park, 2.30pm (Saturday, November 7)
Preview: Belfast Harlequins are currently third in Division 2 of the AIB League while Dolphin are third in Division 1A.
‘Quins have had comprehensive wins over Naas and UL Bohemians in the opening rounds of the AIB Cup and have beaten Old Crescent, Clonakilty and Greystones in the league.
They lost their last game to Bective by a single point and will be without their captain Neil McComb this weekend as he is duty with Ulster ‘A’.
Dolphin will be without James Coughlan, who is captaining Munster ‘A’ this week, but their half-backs Sam Cronin and Barry Keeshan, who have been in excellent form, could be the match winners. The Corkmen will pose a threat from the breakdown and also from any penalties.
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Dolphin to win by 6-10 points
BELFAST HARLEQUINS: M O’Hagan; R Creighton, M Allen, W Stewart, R Reaney; R Blake-Knox, D Creighton; A Ale, R Logan, A Rankin, G Rourke, A Heatlie, A Gillespie, C Atkinson, C McCarey.
CORK CONSTITUTION v SHANNON, Temple Hill, 2.30pm (Saturday, November 7)
Preview: Cork Constitution got their revenge over Ballynahinch in the second round following their defeat in last season’s AIB Cup final. Their reward? Hosting perennial cup stalwarts and reigning AIB League champions Shannon.
Neither side has really fired on all cylinders in the league so far this season, though Cork Con have had the better start. They boast two wins from four while Shannon picked up their first win last weekend – a bonus point success at home to UL Bohemians.
Constitution’s wins have some against UL Bohs and Garryowen, while they lost the first half of the Cork bragging rights to Dolphin on the opening weekend of the league.
This match-up has plenty of tradition to reccommend it to the neutral and it promises to be a big game in Cork on Saturday.
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win by 1-5 points
CORK CONSTITUTION: AN Other; R Lane, E Ryan (capt), T Kenneally, C Healy; D Lyons, D O’Driscoll; M Gately, R Quinn, R Hasan, B Hayes, M O’Connell, E Leamy, P O’Mahony, F Cogan.
GARRYOWEN v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE, Dooradoyle, 2.30pm (Saturday, November 7)
Preview: Another game with a lot of tradition behind it. Not only do the two clubs contest the Shay Deering Memorial trophy on a regular basis, they both have something at stake in the AIB Cup.
Garryowen won the cup three seasons, back in their all conquering rampage through silverware, while St. Mary’s reached the final in the inaugural season but have yet to carve their name on the base.
The Dubliners, who have brothers Barry and Stuart O’Flanagan starting on Saturday, are setting the pace in Division 1A this season and remain unbeaten in the first four games. This game is well worth getting down to Dooradoyle for.
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Garryowen to win by 1-5 points
ST. MARY’S COLLEGE: S O’Flanagan; R Doherty, S Grissing, M Sexton, D Fanning; G Dunne, J Burns; C McMahon, Richard Sweeney, Robert Sweeney, G Logan, S Bradshaw, P Nash, B O’Flanagan, D Hall.
OLD BELVEDERE v CLONTARF, Anglesea Road, 2.30pm (Saturday, November 7)
Preview: A cup tie that drew an appreciative gasp when the draw was made and one given added currency by the fortunes of the sides in the AIB League.
Clontarf have long flown the flag for Dublin in the AIB League but last season’s beaten play-off finalists have had a mixed start this season with only two wins out of four so far.
Old Belvedere by contrast have been inspired by the presence of Andy Dunne, Chris Keane and Fergus McFadden in their back-line and are four points clear at the top of Division 1B. With skipper Dunne unavailable, Conal Keane is set to slot in at out-half.
Watch out too for the explosive Leo Auva’a at number 8 and winger David Mongan who is a fine finisher.
Both sides may be missing some top line players who will be in camp for Ireland and Ireland ‘A’, but this match promises to be a great encounter between these great old Dublin rivals.
‘Tarf may be missing Leinster ‘A’ captain Paul O’Donohoe, but his half-back partner Martin Dufficy could still have a crucial say, alongside Sean Treacy who is a son of Irish athletics great John Treacy.
When these sides met in September in the Leinster League Cup, Belvo chalked up a 21-10 victory and also became the first holders of the Jack Whelan trophy, which is a memorial to the late Jack who had close ties with both clubs.
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win by 1-5 points
OLD BELVEDERE: E Devitt; D Mongan, J Kennedy, K Barden, M McAllister; C Keane, B O’Neill; V Soden, M Cooney, N Lovic, P Spivey, D Moore, D Synnott, J Risdon, L’Auva’a.
CLONTARF: P Howard; S Carey, H Bryce, C Lett, C de Chenu; M Dufficy, S Treacy; C Kavanagh, A Dundon, B Barclay, R Bolger, B Reilly, M Garvey, E Cremin, P Mallon.
QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY v UCC, Dub Lane, 2.30pm (Saturday, November 7)
Preview: Queen’s University have accounted for County Carlow and Dungannon in the opening rounds of the AIB Cup so far and they have won three out of four in Division 3 of the AIB League to date.
They are flying the flag for their division on Saturday when their varsity rivals from Cork come calling. UCC are holding their own in Division 1B with two wins from four to date.
UCC lost their first two games in the league but have found their feet with wins over Galwegians and Dungannon in recent weeks. Conor Twomey’s men beat Corinthians in round 2 of the AIB Cup.
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Queen’s University to win by 1-5 points
QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY: D McIlwaine; S Campbell, J Shiels, M Pyper, M Arneill; J McKinney, I Porter; P Karayiannis, G Megaw, M Sampson, M Ferguson, A Linton, G Hooks, M Robinson, P McGowan.
UCC: S Scanlon; B Derham, B Dennehy, P Parfrey, C Crowley; R O’Sullivan, C Nolan; G Duffy, W Falvey, W O’Donovan, P Murphy, P Donnellan, M Lenihan, S O’Sullivan, J Ryan.
UCD v GALWEGIANS, Belfield, 3pm (Sunday, November 8)
Preview: UCD have accounted for Midleton and Thomond in the first two round of the AIB Cup, showing they have the grit to dog it out in some tough games. By contrast their league form has been mixed and they are currently eighth in Division 2.
Galwegians will be seeking their second ‘student’ scalp, having seen off Dublin University in the second round of the cup. Their league form has also been mixed and they have only won one of their first four games.
The Connacht side may see the cup as the perfect fillip for their season, and they have a very good record of reaching the latter stages.
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Galwegians to win by 6-10 points
GALWEGIANS: M Butler; L Bibo, A Esera, D Clarke, B Lee; R Shaughnessy, K Campbell; J Stephens, C Muldoon, J Naughton, D Boyd, B McClearn, I Muldoon (capt), L Scahill, A Olive.