The All-Ireland League kicks back into action this weekend and there are some big games on the cards in the top flight. St. Mary’s College travel to Cork Constitution for a repeat of last season’s play-off final, while table toppers Old Belvedere host Garryowen and Irish Rugby TV will be on hand to record that clash.
ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, January 8
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
CORK CONSTITUTION (2nd) v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (3rd), Temple Hill
All-Ireland League Season’s Form – Cork Constitution: WWWWLD; St. Mary’s College: LLWWWW
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Cork Constitution: Points: Richie Lane 67; Tries: Richie Lane 3; St. Mary’s College: Points: Gavin Dunne 36; Tries: Darren Hudson 5
Preview: A repeat of last season’s top flight final and a big day at Temple Hill with plenty of pre and post-match activity.
Surprisingly, Cork Constitution are hoping to win their first league game in three outfings after losing to Dolphin and drawing away with Garryowen.
Consequently, they badly need to get back to winning ways. But that will be far from easy against a St. Mary’s side just one place behind them in the table in third spot.
The Duliners have won four matches in-a-row in the league, so confidence will not be an issue, and they will want revenge for last May’s extra-time defeat. However, with home advantage giving them a slight edge, Constitution should take the points here.
Last Season’s Meetings – Saturday, December 12, 2009: Cork Constitution 16 St. Mary’s College 9, Temple Hill; Saturday, March 27, 2010: St. Mary’s College 24 Cork Constitution 20, Templeville Road; Saturday, May 8, 2010: Division 1 final: Cork Constitution 17 St. Mary’s College 10, Dubarry Park (after extra-time)
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win by 1-5 points
OLD BELVEDERE (1st) v GARRYOWEN (6th), Anglesea Road
All-Ireland League Season’s Form – Old Belvedere: WLWWWW; Garryowen: LLWLLD
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Old Belvedere: Points: Conal Keane 42; Tries: Richie Leyden, Daniel Riordan 4 each; Garryowen: Points: Declan Cusack 38; Tries: Robert Meyer, Ronan O’Mahony 2 each
Preview: Hard to back against league leaders Old Belvedere. They played some great stuff when beating Shannon in their last home outing under the Anglesea Road floodlights.
But that is some time ago now and their subsequent hard earned 18-15 away success over Dolphin showed that absolutely nothing can be taken for granted. Significantly, full-back Daniel Riordan scored another try in that game. He has proved a hugely important signing.
Garryowen are improving but they must have been very disappointed to have lost out to Bruff in the Munster Senior Cup final last weekend, and it is difficult to see them taking this one.
Last Season’s Meetings – Old Belvedere were in Division 1B
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Old Belvedere to win by 6-10 points
SHANNON (8th) v BLACKROCK COLLEGE (4th), Coonagh
All-Ireland League Season’s Form – Shannon: LWLLLW; Blackrock College: LWLWWL
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Shannon: Points: Tadhg Bennett 32; Tries: David Quinlan 2; Blackrock College: Points: Ian Madigan 25; Tries: Alex Dunlop 2
Preview: Shannon must be be hugely relieved to have edged a narrow success in the Limerick derby against Young Munster in their last league outing.
The return of some of their more experienced players has been vital, and a pre-match talk from Marcus Horan got them tuned in for their floodlit victory over Young Munster.
But Colm Tucker jnr’s charges still have a lot of work to do as they remain bottom of the table, behind Young Munster and Garryowen on points difference.
Blackrock are only three points ahead of the bottom three, although they lie in fourth spot. So, they cannot afford a defeat – especially after failing to turn some late pressure into a try against St. Mary’s last time out.
The game, which was originally scheduled to go ahead at Thomond Park, has been switched to Coonagh due to an unplayable pitch.
Last Season’s Meetings – Saturday, November 14, 2009: Blackrock College 15 Shannon 21, Stradbrook; Saturday, February 20, 2010: Shannon 3 Blackrock College 25, Coonagh
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Shannon to win by 1-5 points
YOUNG MUNSTER (7th) v DOLPHIN (5th), Tom Clifford Park
All-Ireland League Season’s Form – Young Munster: WWLLLL; Dolphin: WLLLWL
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Young Munster: Points: Alan Kingsley 60; Tries: Darragh O’Neill 2; Dolphin: Points: Barry Keeshan 67; Tries: Eric Moloney 2
Preview: Young Munster have had a few weeks now to get over the disappointment of losing out narrowly to Shannon in their most recent league game.
The ideal response to that 18-17 reversal would be to beat fellow strugglers Dolphin. For them to do so, they will require half-back Alan Kingsley to rediscover his place-kicking touch.
Dolphin are just a point ahead of their Munster rivals in the standings, and with injuries hampering them, they gave 18-year-old lock Rob O’Herlihy his senior debut against Old Belvedere last time out.
A repeat of the performance which saw them shock Cork Constitution recently would give Steve Ford’s men a confidence-boosting start to 2011.
Last Season’s Meetings – Young Munster were in Division 1B
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win by 1-5 points
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