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AIB League: Division 1A Previews

AIB League: Division 1A Previews

Top flight club rugby is back on the agenda this weekend as Division 1A of the AIB League kicks off again. Four cracking games are on the cards so get down to your local club and do not miss out on the action.

AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, January 16

CLONTARF (6th) v UL BOHEMIANS (7th), Castle Avenue, 2.30pm

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AIB League Current Form – Clontarf: LLWWLWL; UL Bohemians: LLLLWWL
AIB League Top Scorers – Clontarf: Points: Martin Dufficy 48; Tries: Martin Dufficy 2; UL Bohemians: Points: Ed Torrie 18; Tries: Ed Torrie 3

Preview: Last season’s beaten finalists Clontarf really do need to get going if they are to retain any ambitions of making the play-offs. On their last outing they dominated much of the match only to lose 21-13 at home to Shannon.

This time around, it is essential they make home advantage pay. On paper, they should know too much for UL Bohemians but the Limerick side have improved considerably since they lost narrowly to Clontarf (8-3) at Thomond Park earlier in the season.

Given the opportunity, they can produce some attractive open football with Daniel Riordan’s pace potentially a major problem.

Last Season’s Meeting – Saturday, January 24: UL Bohemians 17 Clontarf 13, Annacotty 

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win by 6-10 points

CORK CONSTITUTION (2nd) v BLACKROCK COLLEGE (5th), Temple Hill, 2.30pm

AIB League Current Form – Cork Constitution: LWLWWWW; Blackrock College: WWWLLLL
AIB League Top Scorers – Cork Constitution: Points: Scott Deasy 42; Tries: Richie Lane 3; Blackrock College: Points: James Power 47; Tries: Andrew Conway, David Moore 2 each

Preview: Second-placed Cork Constitution will be taking nothing for granted against a Blackrock outfit they went down to 10-3 at Stradbrook earlier in the season.

Since then Blackrock have gone through a torrid time, losing four on the trot, but they will call on a much stronger side this weekend.

Former Cheetahs hooker Richardt Strauss, for example, is set to make his AIB League debut at hooker for Blackrock, while Andrew Conway, Kyle Tonetti and Ian Madigan are among those set to return.

For all that, it is going to take a heck of a performance if Blackrock are to upset the hosts. Cork Con were very good in their most recent success over St Mary’s with scrum half Duncan Williams the outstanding performer on the park.

Last Season’s Meeting – Saturday, March 28, 2009: Blackrock College 23 Cork Constitution 7, Stradbrook 

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win by 1-5 points

SHANNON (3rd) v DOLPHIN (4th), Coonagh, 2.30pm

AIB League Current Form – Shannon: LLLWWLW; Dolphin: WWWLLW
AIB League Top Scorers – Shannon: Points: Tadhg Bennett 40; Tries: Stephen Kelly 5; Dolphin: Points: Barry Keeshan 50; Tries: Barry Keeshan, Barry O’Mahony 2 each

Preview: This match is vital as Dolphin are on the same points mark as Shannon, but with a game in hand. What is more, they defeated Shannon 18-14 when the sides met back in October at Musgrave Park.

But beating Shannon at Coonagh is clearly a different matter. After their loss to Cork Con at the same venue, Shannon will be particularly keen to get things right.

Shannon’s form has improved since then and despite the loss of the injured Felix Jones, they will be aiming to gain revenge for the loss earlier in the season.

Last Season’s Meeting – Saturday, April 18, 2009: Shannon 27 Dolphin 17, Coonagh 

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Shannon to win by 1-5 points

ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (1st) v GARRYOWEN (8th), Templeville Road, 2.30pm

AIB League Current Form – St. Mary’s College: WWWWLWL; Garryowen: WLLLLW 
AIB League Top Scorers – St. Mary’s College: Points: Gavin Dunne 44; Tries: Robin Copeland 7; Garryowen: Points: Conor Murray 29; Tries: Ronan O’Mahony 2

Preview: Leaders St. Mary’s College badly need to make a statement after two defeats in their last three matches. Not that they exactly played poorly in losing to Cork Con last time out.

Their problem was that they did not perform for the full 80 minutes, starting and finishing well but losing their concentration in between. They cannot afford that, even against a Garryowen side that currently props up the table.

While their form in the league has been disappointing, Garryowen have played much better in the AIB Cup, making the final of that competition. So, this game could be a lot tougher than it looks for St. Mary’s who won 6-3 at Dooradoyle back in October.

Last Season’s Meeting – Tuesday, March 17, 2009: St. Mary’s College 8 Garryowen 9, Templeville Road 

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: St. Mary’s College to win by 6-10 points