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All-Ireland League: Division 1A Previews

All-Ireland League: Division 1A Previews

Garryowen and Young Munster will get the 2010/11 All-Ireland League season underway when they face each other under the Dooradoyle floodlights on Friday. Meanwhile, Saturday will see Cork Constitution begin their title defence at Blackrock, Shannon pay Dolphin a visit and two well-matched Dublin sides clash in a repeat of last season’s semi-final.

ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, October 2

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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GARRYOWEN v YOUNG MUNSTER, Dooradoyle, 7.30pm (Friday, October 1)

Preview: A local derby is a fitting way to mark the start of the 2010/11 All-Ireland League season, and Young Munster’s first ever Division 1A game.

Garryowen were outgunned by Munsters when they met recently in the Limerick Charity Cup, losing 24-17 and the margin could and perhaps should have been bigger.

Young Munster went on to retain the Limerick Charity Cup title, with Willie Staunton’s injury-time penalty guiding them to a 12-9 victory over Shannon. Staunton, of course, had made the move to Tom Clifford Park from Garryowen.

But Munsters suffered a big blow in last weekend’s Munster Senior Cup game against UL Bohemians. Apart from the 27-20 defeat, their player-coach Mike Prendergast sustained a knee injury which will sideline him for a number of months.

Garryowen enjoyed early season wins over UL Bohemians and Thomond, but they lost 31-22 to Buccaneers in a friendly in Athlone last weekend and a broken arm for centre/winger Alan Gaughan is a serious setback.

Expect fireworks, fanatical support and a result that could go either way, with the battle up front an intriguing one.

Last Season’s Meetings – Young Munster were in Division 1B

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

BLACKROCK COLLEGE v CORK CONSTITUTION, Stradbrook

Preview: Stradbook should be a good spot for anyone looking for some entertainment prior to the big Leinster-Munster encounter at the Aviva Stadium.

Once again, Cork Constitution are the team to beat in the All-Ireland League. Last season they were comfortably the best side out there and coach Brian Walsh is sure to have them well prepared for their defence of the trophy.

But Blackrock were one of the few teams to defeat them during last season’s campaign. While they lack the strength in depth of their opponents, they are always dangerous on their home ground.

The match marks the first league for Blackrock’s new head coach Andy Wood, whose summer signings include scrum half Sean Treacy, the son of Irish athletics great John Treacy.

Last Season’s Meetings – Saturday, October 24, 2009: Blackrock College 10 Cork Constitution 3, Stradbrook; Saturday, January 16, 2010: Cork Constitution 18 Blackrock College 15, Temple Hill

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

DOLPHIN v SHANNON, Musgrave Park

Preview: Dolphin surprised a lot of people by their effort last season which saw them make the semi-finals before going down to Cork Constitution.

No doubt, they are also going to be very competive this time around, albeit with scrum half Sam Cronin and flanker Barry O’Mahony having left the club. It is hard to know what to expect from Shannon after an erractic campaign last season.

Last weekend’s 21-14 Munster Senior Cup defeat to Bruff suggests that the Limerick men still have some sorting out to do.

Dolphin seem to be putting it together at the right time after their excellent performance last week when they defeated neighbours Sunday’s Well 48-6 in the Cup. Shannon disappointed to have made their exit to Bruff may have to wait another week before picking up their first points.

Last Season’s Meetings – Saturday, October 24, 2009: Dolphin 18 Shannon 14, Musgrave Park; Saturday, January 16, 2010: Shannon 32 Dolphin 10, Coonagh

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

ST. MARY’S COLLEGE v OLD BELVEDERE, Templeville Road

Preview: A repeat of a cracking Division 1 semi-final last season which was won narrowly and somewhat controversially by St. Mary’s College.

There is no doubt that Old Belvedere have the ability to hold their own in the top flight, particularly if player-coach Andy Dunne is provided with the right sort of possession at out-half.

But St. Mary’s will start favourites on their home ground. They are a well organised and hugely determined outfit and are able to call on the bulk of the side which saw them come so close to winning the trophy last season.

Former Leinster flanker Ciaran Potts has taken over from Peter Smyth as St. Mary’s head coach, and a collection of Ireland Under-20 internationals have joined the club – brothers Rhys and Ciaran Ruddock, Ian McKinley and Darren Hudson.

Old Belvedere’s new players include New Zealander Greg Walker, ex-Clontarf winger Peter Woods and Leinster hopeful Ben Marshall, who featured for the Irish Under-20s last season.

Last Season’s Meeting – Saturday, April 17, 2010 – Division 1 semi-final: St. Mary’s College 24 Old Belvedere 23, Templeville Road

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: St. Mary’s College to win by 1-5 points