AIB League Division 1A is back with a bang this weekend. There is the top of the table Dublin derby between St. Mary’s College and Blackrock College at Templeville Road, while heavyweights Shannon and Cork Constitution clash in a huge encounter at Coonagh.
AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, December 5
SHANNON (4th) v CORK CONSTITUTION (3rd), Coonagh, 2.30pm
AIB League Current Form – Shannon: LLLWW; Cork Constitution: LWLWW
AIB League Top Scorers – Shannon: Points: Tadhg Bennett 26; Tries: Stephen Kelly, David Quinlan 3 each; Cork Constitution: Points: Scott Deasy 28; Tries: Richie Lane 3
Preview: Cork Con ran in four tries when the sides met last month in the AIB Cup, so expect a big crowd in Coonagh to see the Limerick men exact revenge if they can.
Shannpon expect to have Felix Jones available but will definitely be without Niall Ronan and Ian Dowling, both of whom are needed by Munster.
With Mossie Lawlor (hamstring) also missing for this Coonagh fixture, the defending champions will need to put in a very big performance if they are to reverse their AIB Cup defeat to their Munster rivals.
Apart from Duncan Williams (concussion), who is replaced at scrum half by David O’Driscoll, third-placed Cork Con anticipate being at full strength.
Last Season’s Meeting – Tuesday, March 17, 2009: Cork Constitution 16 Shannon 9, Temple Hill
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win by 1-5 points
ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (1st) v BLACKROCK COLLEGE (2nd), Templeville Road, 2.30pm
AIB League Current Form – St. Mary’s College: WWWWL; Blackrock College: WWWLL
AIB League Top Scorers – St. Mary’s College: Points: Gavin Dunne 28; Tries: Robin Copeland 5; Blackrock College: Points: James Power 44; Tries: Andrew Conway, David Moore 2 each
Preview: A top of the table clash, a Dublin derby. What more could you look for in a club match? Get down to Templeville Road on Saturday afternoon for what promises to be a cracking game of rugby.
Blackrock are going through a really tough time with unavailability of players at the moment.
Niall Morris, Paul Ryan and Ian Madigan are all named in Leinster’s Magners League squad, while the club must check out the availability of Andrew Conway and Brendan Macken, both of whom played for the Irish Under-19s against Australia Schools in midweek.
To add to ‘Rock’s difficulties, Kyle Tonetti and Darragh Fitzpatrick are both on the injured list.
Leaders St. Mary’s College, anxious to return to winning form following their defeat to UL Bohemians, have prop Jack McGrath in the Leinster squad.
Last Season’s Meeting – Saturday, February 21, 2009: St. Mary’s College 18 Blackrock College 8, Templeville Road
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: St. Mary’s College to win by 6-10 points
DOLPHIN (5th) v UL BOHEMIANS (7th), Musgrave Park, 2.30pm
AIB League Current Form – Dolphin: WWWL; UL Bohemians: LLLLW
AIB League Top Scorers – Dolphin: Points: Barry Keeshan 48; Tries: Barry Keeshan, Barry O’Mahony 2 each; UL Bohemians: Points: Darragh Frawley 12; Tries: Danny Riordan, Ed Torrie 2 each
Preview: Following the postponement of their last league outing against Garryowen, Dolphin will be anxious to get their challenge back on the road.
Last Sunday’s 24-10 AIB Cup victory over Galwegians gave them a much-needed outing. Barry O’Mahony and Nick Williams again contributed tries from the back row, but they will need to take UL Bohemians very seriously after the Limerick side’s shock 25-20 home success over St. Mary’s last time out.
Dolphin’s half-back partnership of captain Barry Keeshan and Sam Cronin has also proved a handful and could capitalise on a strong pack display to see them take the spoils.
Last Season’s Meeting – Sunday, October 12, 2008: Dolphin 35 UL Bohemians 33, Musgrave Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Dolphin to win by 6-10 points
GARRYOWEN (8th) v CLONTARF (6th), Dooradoyle, 2.30pm
AIB League Current Form – Garryowen: WLLL; Clontarf: LLWWL
AIB League Top Scorers – Garryowen: Points: Conor Murray 23; Tries: Ronan O’Mahony 2; Clontarf: Points: Martin Dufficy 41; Tries: Sean Carey, Michael Keating, Martin Garvey, Simon Crawford 1 each
Preview: A strange game in many ways given both of these sides are used to being in the play-offs at the business end of the season.
Both sides are badly in need of a win, particularly Garryowen who currently prop up the table following the postponement of their game against Dolphin.
The Dooradoyle outfit showed in defeating Blackrock in the AIB Cup that they are much better than their position indicates. So, for that matter, are Clontarf. They played some good rugby only to go down narrowly 21-18, away to Cork Constitution last time out.
‘Tarf have long since outgrown any Limerick bogey but home advantage could prove the key on Saturday.
Last Season’s Meeting – Saturday, October 4, 2008: Clontarf 14 Garryowen 13, Castle Avenue
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Garryowen to win by 1-5 points