Division 1A’s top two sides, Cork Constitution and Shannon, meet at Temple Hill in undoubtedly the game of the weekend in the AIB League. Relegation-threatened Clontarf host Garryowen, Blackrock College and St. Mary’s College put their play-off hopes on the line at Stradbrook and the UL Bohemians v Dolphin tie is another ‘eight pointer’.
AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, March 6
BLACKROCK COLLEGE (5th) v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (3rd), Stradbrook, 2.30pm
AIB League Season’s Form – Blackrock College: WWWLLLLLWW; St. Mary’s College: WWWWLWLLLLW
AIB League Top Scorers – Blackrock College: Points: James Power 47; Tries: Andrew Conway 3; St. Mary’s College: Points: Gavin Dunne 78; Tries: Robin Copeland 8
Preview: There should be no question of St. Mary’s College taking anything for granted, following Blackrock’s stunning 25-3 away success over Shannon two weeks ago.
Unfortunately though it does appear that Blackrock are going to be well below full strength for this vital clash. Andrew Conway, Ian Madigan and Trevor Hogan have been named in the Leinster matchday squad, while there is also some doubt concerning the availability of young centre Brendan Macken, and winger David Rowan is out with a broken thumb.
So, it is going to take some effort if they are to turn over a St. Mary’s side who rediscovered their best form to put 39 points on UL Bohemians last time out.
Last Season’s Meeting – Saturday, February 21, 2009: St. Mary’s College 18 Blackrock College 8, Templeville Road
This Season’s First Meeting – Saturday, December 5, 2009: St. Mary’s College 25 Blackrock College 3, Templeville Road
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: St. Mary’s College to win by 6-10 points
CLONTARF (7th) v GARRYOWEN (6th), Castle Avenue, 2.30pm
AIB League Season’s Form – Clontarf: LLWWLWLWLLL; Garryowen: WLLLLWWDWW
AIB League Top Scorers – Clontarf: Points: Martin Dufficy 70; Tries: Michael Keating 4; Garryowen: Points: Conor Murray 65; Tries: Ronan O’Mahony, Alan Gaughan 2 each
Preview: Second-from-bottom Clontarf will surely be looking at relegation if they fail to secure a victory.
Their problem throughout the season is that they have been losing tight matches. The most recent 20-18 home defeat to Cork Constitution was a typical example.
But at least Bernard Jackman’s charges did show a good deal of character in that game, the efforts of out-half Martin Dufficy bringing them right back into contention. They will need to perform for the full 80 minutes against a Garryowen side which has been flying in recent weeks.
Last Season’s Meeting – Saturday, October 4, 2008: Clontarf 14 Garryowen 13, Castle Avenue
This Season’s First Meeting – Saturday, December 5, 2009: Garryowen 3 Clontarf 18, Dooradoyle
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win by 1-5 points
CORK CONSTITUTION (1st) v SHANNON (2nd), Temple Hill, 2.30pm
AIB League Season’s Form – Cork Constitution: LWLWWWWWDW; Shannon: LLLWWLWWWWL
AIB League Top Scorers – Cork Constitution: Points: Scott Deasy 56; Tries: Richie Lane 6; Shannon: Points: Tadhg Bennett 68; Tries: Stephen Kelly 6
Preview: Hard to know what happened to Shannon against Blackrock. It can be safely assumed, however, that they will be much improved for this top of the table clash.
The first meeting between the sides at Coonagh was a very tightly fought encounter before events after the game, unfortunately, overshadowed it. Saturday afternoon’s encounter may be just as close.
The difficulty for Cork Con could be the involvement of some key players in the Munster squad. Their resources may well be tested to the full.
Last Season’s Meeting – Tuesday, March 17, 2009: Cork Constitution 16 Shannon 9, Temple Hill
This Season’s First Meeting – Saturday, December 5, 2009: Shannon 8 Cork Constitution 9, Coonagh
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win by 1-5 points
UL BOHEMIANS (8th) v DOLPHIN (4th), Thomond Park, 2.30pm
AIB League Season’s Form – UL Bohemians: LLLLWWLLLL; Dolphin: WWWLLWLWWLL
AIB League Top Scorers – UL Bohemians: Points: Fergal Lawlor, Danny Riordan 19 each; Tries: Ed Torrie, Danny Riordan 3 each; Dolphin: Points: Barry Keeshan 63; Tries: Barry Keeshan, Barry O’Mahony, James Coughlan, Paul Hurley 2 each
Preview: Despite some indifferent form of late, Dolphin remain in the running for a top three spot. But they simply cannot afford a slip up against the bottom of the table outfit.
UL Bohs have had their problems this season but they are quite capable of lifting it on home soil.
That said, it will come as a surprise should Dolphin fail to return to winning form. Out-half Barry Keeshan’s contribution will be vital.
Last Season’s Meeting – Sunday, October 12, 2008: Dolphin 35 UL Bohemians 33, Musgrave Park
This Season’s First Meeting – Saturday, December 5, 2009: Dolphin 0 UL Bohemians 3, Musgrave Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Dolphin to win by 6-10 points