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AIB League: Division 1A Previews

AIB League: Division 1A Previews

The make-up of the AIB League Division 1 semi-finals will be confirmed just after 4pm on Saturday, with defending champions Shannon needing a win over arch rivals Garryowen and a slip-up by Dolphin in order to keep alive their hopes of holding onto the title.

AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, April 10

BLACKROCK COLLEGE (6th) v UL BOHEMIANS (8th), Stradbrook, 2.30pm

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AIB League Season’s Form – Blackrock College: WWWLLLLLWWLLW; UL Bohemians: LLLLWWLLLLLWL
AIB League Top Scorers – Blackrock College: Points: James Power 47; Tries: Andrew Conway 4; UL Bohemians: Points: Fergal Lawlor 30; Tries: Danny Riordan 4 

Preview: Relieved, no doubt, to have secured that away success over Garryowen last weekend, Blackrock will be anxious to finish an erractic season on a high note with a victory over the bottom-placed team.

Effectively, Blackrock have already, almost certainly, guaranteed their Division 1A status, ahead of Clontarf and UL Bohemians. In those circumstances, there is every reason to hope for a top class performance.

All the more so because they should have most of their contracted players available. The importance of Andrew Conway was again demonstrated when he scored a vital try against Garryowen last weekend.

Last Season’s Meeting – Saturday, April 18, 2009: Blackrock College 30 UL Bohemians 19, Stradbrook 

This Season’s First Meeting – Saturday, October 3, 2009: UL Bohemians 3 Blackrock College 8, Thomond Park 

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

CLONTARF (7th) v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (2nd), Castle Avenue, 2.30pm

AIB League Season’s Form – Clontarf: LLWWLWLWLLLLW; St. Mary’s College: WWWWLWLLLLWWW
AIB League Top Scorers – Clontarf: Points: Martin Dufficy 86; Tries: Michael Keating 6; St. Mary’s College: Points: Gavin Dunne 93; Tries: Robin Copeland 9

Preview: Unfortunately, second-from-bottom Clontarf seem to have run out of matches, although they are, in theory, within range of Blackrock. But it is surely asking a bit much for them to beat St. Mary’s with a bonus point, and for Blackrock to lose without a bonus point.

Still, they will be keen to follow up their fine away victory over Shannon by beating the second-placed team in the table. But St. Mary’s are in top class form just now and represent very formidable opposition.

They will be anxious to continue their winning run and secure a home semi-final. So, it is going to take a huge performance from Clontarf if they are to spring a surprise.

Last Season’s Meeting – Saturday, October 18, 2008: Clontarf 30 St. Mary’s College 19, Castle Avenue 

This Season’s First Meeting – Saturday, October 3, 2009: St. Mary’s College 24 Clontarf 7, Templeville Road 

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

CORK CONSTITUTION (1st) v DOLPHIN (3rd), Temple Hill, 2.30pm

AIB League Season’s Form – Cork Constitution: LWLWWWWWDWWLW; Dolphin: WWWLLWLWWLLWW 
AIB League Top Scorers – Cork Constitution: Points: Scott Deasy 66; Tries: Richie Lane 7; Dolphin: Points: Barry Keeshan 78; Tries: Sam Cronin 3

Preview: Table toppers Cork Constitution are already certain of a home semi-final but it is all still in the melting pot for Dolphin in third spot. Shannon, back in fourth position, will be desperate for a Cork Con win.

There is also the possibility that Dolphin will make the play-offs with a losing bonus point. But the only way to make absolutely sure is to repeat their narrow early season success over Cork Con.

That, however, will be far from easy against a Constitution side that returned to top form with last Saturday’s comfortable away success over UL Bohs. Furthermore, they are expected to have most of their contracted players available.

Last Season’s Meeting – Sunday, February 22, 2009: Dolphin 22 Cork Constitution 41, Musgrave Park

This Season’s First Meeting – Saturday, October 3, 2009: Dolphin 13 Cork Constitution 12, Musgrave Park 

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

SHANNON (4th) v GARRYOWEN (5th), Coonagh, 2.30pm

AIB League Season’s Form – Shannon: LLLWWLWWWWLLL; Garryowen: WLLLLWWDWWWLL
AIB League Top Scorers – Shannon: Points: Tadhg Bennett 68; Tries: Stephen Kelly 6; Garryowen: Points: Conor Murray 75; Tries: Ronan O’Mahony 3

Preview: Hard to know what has happened to these two sides in recent weeks. Garryowen are already out of contention for a semi-final spot following their run of defeats.

At least Shannon are still in there with a chance but they are depending on Cork Con to do them a favour by beating Dolphin. For the defending champions, it is all about getting the victory, ideally with a bonus point.

While that could be asking a bit much against their great rivals, home advantage should be enough to give them an edge. Mind you, they said that for their last Coonagh game against lowly Clontarf, and look what happened in the second half.

Last Season’s Meetings – Friday, October 17, 2008: Shannon 17 Garryowen 17, Thomond Park; Saturday, April 25, 2009: Division 1 semi-final: Shannon 16 Garryowen 12, Coonagh 

This Season’s First Meeting – Friday, October 2, 2009: Garryowen 12 Shannon 10, Dooradoyle 

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