Seasons could hinge on the outcomes of Saturday’s games in AIB League Division 1A, with Dolphin continuing their fight for a play-off spot, a Limerick derby down for decision at Dooradoyle, last year’s finalists facing off at Coonagh and a mouth-watering top of the table clash at Templeville Road.
AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, March 27
DOLPHIN (4th) v BLACKROCK COLLEGE (6th), Musgrave Park, 2.30pm
AIB League Season’s Form – Dolphin: WWWLLWLWWLLW; Blackrock College: WWWLLLLLWWL
AIB League Top Scorers – Dolphin: Points: Barry Keeshan 75; Tries: Barry Keeshan, Barry O’Mahony, James Coughlan, Paul Hurley 2 each; Blackrock College: Points: James Power 47; Tries: Andrew Conway 3
Preview: A must win game for a Dolphin team on the fringe of the play-offs. But they will have to do without James Coughlan and possibly Nick Williams because of their Munster commitments.
Still, Dolphin will go in as favourites against a Blackrock side which is also hit by provincial call-ups. What is more, Blackrock disappointed badly in their most recent outing against St. Mary’s College.
But Dolphin would still be unwise to take anything for granted as Blackrock could do with a victory to make absolutely sure of staying out of relegations trouble.
Significently, they are quite capable of lifting their game, just ask Shannon who went down to a shock home defeat to them last month.
Last Season’s Meeting – Saturday, January 17, 2009: Dolphin 19 Blackrock College 15, Musgrave Park
This Season’s First Meeting – Saturday, December 12, 2009: Blackrock College 6 Dolphin 12, Stradbrook
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Dolphin to win by 1-5 points
GARRYOWEN (5th) v UL BOHEMIANS (8th), Dooradoyle, 2.30pm
AIB League Season’s Form – Garryowen: WLLLLWWDWWW; UL Bohemians: LLLLWWLLLLL
AIB League Top Scorers – Garryowen: Points: Conor Murray 70; Tries: Ronan O’Mahony 3; UL Bohemians: Points: Danny Riordan 24; Tries: Danny Riordan 4
Preview: Garryowen will be fancied to continue their impressive march up the table and possible entry into one of the play-off positions.
But they will appreciate as well as anyone that UL Bohemians represent a much bigger threat than their bottom of the table position indicates.
All the more now now that it has been confirmed that Munster’s Barry Murphy will make his comeback game for them following his ankle injury problems.
UL led Dolphin for much of the game only to fall apart in the closing stages. So, Garryowen may well need a performance very close to their best.
Last Season’s Meeting – Saturday, January 31, 2009: Garryowen 20 UL Bohemians 18, Dooradoyle
This Season’s First Meeting – Saturday, December 12, 2009: UL Bohemians 5 Garryowen 9, Thomond Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Garryowen to win by 6-10 points
SHANNON (3rd) v CLONTARF (7th), Coonagh, 2.30pm
AIB League Season’s Form – Shannon: LLLWWLWWWWLL; Clontarf: LLWWLWLWLLLL
AIB League Top Scorers – Shannon: Points: Tadhg Bennett 68; Tries: Stephen Kelly 6; Clontarf: Points: Martin Dufficy 74; Tries: Michael Keating 4
Preview: Defending champions Shannon remain in third spot, so it is still well within their capacity to make the play-offs, especially as their last two games are at home.
Their final outing against Garryowen will probably decide their destiny but first they must see off a struggling Clontarf side. Given their recent injury problems and dip in form, nothing will be be taken for granted.
Although they now seem certain to be relegated, Clontarf are most unlikely to throw in the towel. No doubt, they will be keen to put one over the team that denied them the title in dramatic fashion last season.
Last Season’s Meetings – Saturday, December 6, 2008: Shannon 6 Clontarf 8, Coonagh; Saturday, May 9, 2009: Shannon 19 Clontarf 19, Thomond Park (after extra-time; Shannon won having scored the game’s first try)
This Season’s First Meeting – Saturday, December 12, 2009: Clontarf 13 Shannon 21, Castle Avenue
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Shannon to win by 1-5 points
ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (2nd) v CORK CONSTITUTION (1st), Templeville Road, 2.30pm
AIB League Season’s Form – St. Mary’s College: WWWWLWLLLLWW; Cork Constitution: LWLWWWWWDWW
AIB League Top Scorers – St. Mary’s College: Points: Gavin Dunne 89; Tries: Robin Copeland 9; Cork Constitution: Points: Scott Deasy 56; Tries: Richie Lane 6
Preview: Top of the table clash with an awful lot at stake. Once again, Cork Constitution will not be helped by the involvement of some of their players in the Munster squad.
Somehow, they seem to be able to overcome such difficulties. But it will be far from easy to get the better of a St. Mary’s team which has shown a return to form in recent outings.
Furthermore, they do not have the problem of losing players to the representative scene. When the sides met earlier in the season at Temple Hill, Cork Con won a cracking game, and another exciting contest is a very real prospect.
Last Season’s Meeting – Saturday, October 25, 2008: St. Mary’s College 16 Cork Constitution 9, Templeville Road
This Season’s First Meeting – Saturday, December 12, 2009: Cork Constitution 16 St. Mary’s College 9, Temple Hill
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win by 1-5 points