It is a massive day of rugby on Saturday, and that is certainly the case in All-Ireland League Division 1A. There are two cracking ties in Cork and Limerick, while fans who attend the Ireland v Samoa match have the option of taking in a later game at Old Belvedere or St. Mary’s College.
ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, November 13
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
CORK CONSTITUTION (1st) v DOLPHIN (7th), Temple Hill
All-Ireland League Season’s Form – Cork Constitution: WWWW; Dolphin: WLLL
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Cork Constitution: Points: Richie Lane 58; Tries: Richie Lane 3; Dolphin: Points: Barry Keeshan 48; Tries: James Coughlan, Eric Moloney, Brian Dennehy, Tom Parker 1 each
Preview: A repeat of last season’s top flight semi-final which should see Cork Constitution maintain their position at the top of the table with another victory.
Dolphin, by contrast, have had a difficult start to their campaign, winning just one of their first four games to lie second-from-bottom. Still, they can take some hope from the exploits of Bruff last weekend.
The Division 1B outfit caused a huge upset to defeat Cork Con 11-5 in the Munster Senior Cup quarter-final. It is going to be interesting to see how Constitution respond.
The odds are with the home side making it three successive league wins against Dolphin, which would be a fitting way to cap off a week that saw them crowned the Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland’s Club of the Year.
Last Season’s Meetings – Saturday, October 3, 2009: Dolphin 13 Cork Constitution 12, Musgrave Park; Saturday, April 10, 2010: Cork Constitution 23 Dolphin 13, Temple Hill; Semi-final – Saturday, April 17, 2010: Cork Constitution 31 Dolphin 18, Temple Hill
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win by 6-10 points
YOUNG MUNSTER (6th) v BLACKROCK COLLEGE (5th), Tom Clifford Park
All-Ireland League Season’s Form – Young Munster: WWLL; Blackrock College: LWLW
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Young Munster: Points: Alan Kingsley 39; Tries: Darragh O’Neill, Danny Grace, Matthew Costelloe 1 each; Blackrock College: Points: Rob Keogh 13; Tries: Alex Dunlop 2
Preview: Normally Young Munster are very hard to beat on home turf, but they were trounced 31-0 by Old Belvedere at Tom Clifford Park two weeks back.
No one expected a defeat of that magnitude, especially as Mike Prendergast’s charges had beaten St. Mary’s College in front of their home fans in the second round of matches. So, this will be a real test of Young Munster’s character.
Blackrock, level with Young Munster in mid-table, will be looking for a second successive victory over Limerick opposition, having beaten Garryowen last time out. Their big winger Shane Monahan had an impressive debut for Connacht against Samoa in midweek, and the Stradbrook side certainly have the backs to test the home defence.
But Prendergast is quietly confident that his players can use the ‘hurt’ from that heavy defeat to Old Belvedere, insisting that they will ‘put things right.’
Last Season’s Meetings – Young Munster were in Division 1B
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win by 6-10 points
OLD BELVEDERE (2nd) v SHANNON (8th), Anglesea Road, 4.30pm
All-Ireland League Season’s Form – Old Belvedere: WLWW; Shannon: LWLL
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Old Belvedere: Points: Conal Keane 29; Tries: Richie Leyden 4; Shannon: Points: Gareth Quinn McDonogh 25; Tries: Gareth Quinn McDonogh, Sean Armstrong, Mossie Lawlor, David Quinlan 1 each
Preview: Just how good are Old Belvedere? Exceptionally good, judging by that 31-0 away hammering of Young Munster.
Apart from their late defeat to Cork Con, they have not put a foot wrong so far in the league campaign. Shannon must find a way to stop their back row, in particular the strong running Leo Auva’a and the free-scoring Richie Leyden.
It is a big ask for the Limerick side who currently lie at the bottom of the table. At least they played a lot better when running Cork Con to 26-20 last time out. Their recovery in the second half will give them heart.
Shannon coach Colm Tucker jnr has wingers Luke O’Dea and Stephen Kelly back from injury for this game. The fit-again Tadhg Bennett will also get his second runout at out-half.
Dan Heffernan joins the visitors’ captain Fergal Walsh in the second row, while Shannon’s obvious strength lies in the back row combination of Paddy Butler, Colm McMahon and David Quinlan. Indeed, it will be the vastly experienced McMahon’s first league start for Shannon in over two years.
Last Season’s Meetings – Old Belvedere were in Division 1B
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Old Belvedere to win by 6-10 points
ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (3rd) v GARRYOWEN (4th), Templeville Road, 6pm
All-Ireland League Season’s Form – St. Mary’s College: LLWW; Garryowen: LLWL
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – St. Mary’s College: Points: Shaun McCarthy 22; Tries: Darren Hudson 4; Garryowen: Points: Declan Cusack 26; Tries: Robert Meyer, Ronan O’Mahony 2 each
Preview: The one certainty about this encounter is that St. Mary’s College are going to find it quite a bit tougher than their last outing at Templeville Road when they put 53 points on Shannon.
Besides the All-Ireland League points, the Shay Deering trophy will be at stake under the floodlights at Templeville Road. St. Mary’s will start favourites, having won their last two outings.
But Garryowen have also shown definite signs of an improvement. They go into the game with a useful 18-16 Munster Senior Cup quarter-final success over UL Bohs behind them.
Out-half Declan Cusack was their hero against UL, slotting a last-minute penalty, and he will look to curb the Dubliners’ talented back-line.
Last season’s duels were particularly tight, with the away team coming away with the spoils on both occasions. Given their current form, Ciaran Potts’ Mary’s side should make home advantage count here.
Last Season’s Meetings – Saturday, October 24, 2009: Garryowen 3 St. Mary’s College 6, Dooradoyle; Saturday, January 16, 2010: St. Mary’s College 14 Garryowen 16, Templeville Road
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: St. Mary’s College to win by 6-10 points