Limerick rivals Shannon and Garryowen will both be chasing their first All-Ireland League win when they meet in an eagerly-awaited derby clash at Thomond Park tonight. Saturday’s highlight in Division 1A is the meeting of the top two, Old Belvedere and Cork Constitution, at Anglesea Road.
ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, October 9
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
SHANNON (6th) v GARRYOWEN (5th), Thomond Park, 7.30pm (Friday, October 8)
All-Ireland League Season’s Form – Shannon: L; Garryowen: L
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Shannon: Points: Gareth Quinn McDonogh 9; Tries: -; Garryowen: Points: Conor Murray 9; Tries: Robert Meyer 1
Preview: Garryowen face into their second Limerick derby in the space of a week, determined to make up for last weekend’s disappointing 20-14 home loss to Young Munster.
The Light Blues achieved a league double over Shannon last season, and another tight encounter is expected with much of the focus on young goal-kickers Conor Murray and Gareth Quinn McDonogh.
Out-half Quinn McDonogh kicked Shannon back into contention at Dolphin in their opener, before the Cork side pushed on for a 16-9 victory. Former captain Mossie Lawlor is a steadying influence at full-back, while Paddy Butler is one to watch in the back row.
The battle at the breakdown looks an intriguing one, and may well decide which way this one goes.
Last Season’s Meetings – Friday, October 2, 2009: Garryowen 12 Shannon 10, Dooradoyle; Saturday, April 10, 2010: Shannon 8 Garryowen 9, Coonagh
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Garryowen to win by 1-5 points
DOLPHIN (3rd) v BLACKROCK COLLEGE (7th), Musgrave Park
All-Ireland League Season’s Form – Dolphin: W; Blackrock College: L
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Dolphin: Points: Barry Keeshan 11; Tries: James Coughlan 1; Blackrock College: Points: Rob Keogh 13; Tries: Alex Dunlop, Niall Morris 1 each
Preview: Dolphin appear to be in good shape again, despite the loss of Sam Cronin and Barry O’Mahony to Clontarf.
Last weekend’s 16-9 opening success over Shannon displayed many of the qualities which brought them to the semi-final last season. James Coughlan was again a big influence in the back-row, and, crucially, team captain Barry Keeshan proved very accurate with his goal-kicking.
It will be interesting to see how Blackrock manage on the road under new coaches Andy Wood and Simon Broughton.
Their new-look side performed surprisingly well for long periods at Stradbrook last Saturday against Cork Con but faded in the closing stages.
Last Season’s Meetings – Saturday, December 12, 2009: Blackrock College 6 Dolphin 12, Stradbrook; Saturday, March 27, 2010: Dolphin 31 Blackrock College 13, Musgrave Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Dolphin to win by 6-10 points
YOUNG MUNSTER (4th) v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (8th), Tom Clifford Park
All-Ireland League Season’s Form – Young Munster: W; St. Mary’s College: L
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Young Munster: Points: Alan Kingsley 10; Tries: Darragh O’Neill, Danny Grace 1 each; St. Mary’s College: Points: Ian McKinley 6; Tries: –
Preview: A very competitive game expected, especially as last season’s beaten Division 1 finalists, St. Mary’s, started with a home defeat to Old Belvedere.
They will be looking to bounce back immediatedly. But that will be far from easy against a usful Young Munster outfit.
Despite the blow of losing their player-coach Mike Prendergast to a cruciate knee ligament injury, Young Munster still managed a well-deserved away success over Garryowen last weekend. And importantly, they have one of the best goal-kickers around in Alan Kingsley.
Last Season’s Meetings – Young Munster were in Division 1B
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win by 1-5 points
OLD BELVEDERE (2nd) v CORK CONSTITUTION (1st), Anglesea Road, 3.30pm
All-Ireland League Season’s Form – Old Belvedere: W; Cork Constitution: W
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Old Belvedere: Points: Andy Dunne 7; Tries: Kieran Hurrell, Richie Leyden 1 each; Cork Constitution: Points: Richie Lane 16; Tries: Darragh Lyons, Frank Cogan, Richie Lane, Stephen Archer 1 each
Preview: After the way the Old Belvedere defeated St. Mary’s College last Saturday, this clash of the table toppers must be seen as the match of the day.
Any team that can go to St. Mary’s and win must be good. Should Old Belvedere follow that victory up with another success over the defending champions, they have to be seen as real title contenders.
The home side have a lot going for them, particularly as former Leinster winger Simon Keogh is now partnering player-coach Andy Dunne at half-back.
But Cork Con are are sure to be very strong again this season, so there is a cracking encounter in prospect.
Last Season’s Meetings – Old Belvedere were in Division 1B
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win by 6-10 points