Defending champions Cork Constitution know a top drawer performance will be needed this Saturday if they are to maintain their lead of Division 1A. Young Munster are formidable opponents on home turf. Elsewhere, Old Belvedere and Blackrock College square up in a Dublin derby and Garryowen and St. Mary’s College are back on the road.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, February 5
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
DOLPHIN (5th) v GARRYOWEN (7th), Musgrave Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Dolphin: WLLLWLLW; Garryowen: LLWLLDLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Dolphin: Points: Barry Keeshan 89; Tries: Eric Moloney 2; Garryowen: Points: Declan Cusack 51; Tries: Robert Meyer, Ronan O’Mahony 2 each
Preview: Just a point separates these Munster rivals with Dolphin now fourth from bottom and Garryowen second last. Yet, both will go into the game with increased confidence following important victories last weekend.
After their humiliating defeat at Young Munster, a Barry Keeshan-inspired Dolphin responded by putting 32 points on Blackrock at Stradbrook. Perhaps Garryowen’s 25-13 floodlit victory over Shannon was an even better effort.
It promises to be very tough up front with the performance of the respective place-kickers, Dolphin captain Keeshan and Garryowen out-half Declan Cusack, sure to prove crucial.
Most Recent Meetings – Sunday, February 7, 2010: Garryowen 13 Dolphin 12, Dooradoyle; Saturday, February 20, 2010: Dolphin 9 Garryowen 21, Musgrave Park; Saturday, October 23, 2010: Garryowen 45 Dolphin 27, Dooradoyle
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Dolphin to win by 1-5 points
OLD BELVEDERE (2nd) v BLACKROCK COLLEGE (8th), Anglesea Road, 4.15pm
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Old Belvedere: WLWWWWWL; Blackrock College: LWLWWLLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Old Belvedere: Points: Conal Keane 47; Tries: Daniel Riordan 5; Blackrock College: Points: Rob Keogh 44; Tries: Alex Dunlop, Brendan Macken 2 each
Preview: Not exactly easy for Blackrock as they bid to secure the victory which could move them off the bottom of the table. They will be up against an Old Belvedere outfit determined to put their defeat to Cork Constitution quickly behind them.
Everything suggests that ‘Belvo have the capacity to do so, particularly if Daniel Riordan continues his outstanding form at full-back. There cannot be many better players than Riordan in the league right now.
He did everything he could to turn things around against Cork Con, scoring a try, and generally causing problems whenever he had the ball.
Blackrock, unfortunately, are struggling at present and they will need a big improvement if they are to turn things around.
Most Recent Meeting – Saturday, October 23, 2010: Blackrock College 20 Old Belvedere 29, Stradbrook
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Old Belvedere to win by 6-10 points
SHANNON (6th) v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (3rd), Coonagh
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Shannon: LWLLLWWL; St. Mary’s College: LLWWWWLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Shannon: Points: Tadhg Bennett 50; Tries: David Quinlan, Les Hogan 2 each; St. Mary’s College: Points: Gavin Dunne 51; Tries: Darren Hudson 5
Preview: There will be no lack of incentive for Shannon having suffer a record-breaking 53-0 defeat to St. Mary’s College at Templeville Road earlier this season.
Quite obviously, there will be no repeat of a scoreline anything like that this time around. Shannon, with Marcus Horan set to start again, have improved a lot since then and they also have home advantage.
And, if they want some encouragement, they should look to UCC’s achievement in beating Lansdowne last weekend, after conceding 61 points to them at the start of the campaign.
Crucially though, St. Mary’s, unlike Lansdowne, tend to be good on the road. So, if Shannon are to take their revenge they are going to have to play very well indeed.
Most Recent Meetings – Saturday, October 10, 2009: Shannon 7 St. Mary’s College 12, Thomond Park; Saturday, January 30, 2010: St. Mary’s College 16 Shannon 27, Templeville Road; Saturday, October 23, 2010: St. Mary’s College 53 Shannon 0, Templeville Road
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Shannon to win by 1-5 points
YOUNG MUNSTER (4th) v CORK CONSTITUTION (1st), Tom Clifford Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Young Munster: WWLLLLWL; Cork Constitution: WWWWLDWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Young Munster: Points: Alan Kingsley 79; Tries: Darragh O’Neill, Matthew Costelloe, Aaron Carroll 2 each; Cork Constitution: Points: Richie Lane 67; Tries: Brian Hayes 4
Preview: Tricky fixture for the leaders against a Young Munster outfit that has shown a big improvement recently. Not only did they hammer Dolphin, but they came very close to upsetting St. Mary’s in Dublin last time out.
However, Cork Constitution showed once again by beating Old Belvedere why they are the holders and favourites to retain the trophy. They produced an outstanding brand of high tempo rugby.
Their coach Brian Walsh is never quite sure who is available but he always seems to be able to produce a top class team.
Importantly, Gerry Hurley is doing an excellent job at scrum half in the absence of Duncan Williams. His place-kicking will be crucial on Saturday, as will that of Alan Kingsley for Young Munster.
Most Recent Meeting – Saturday, October 23, 2010: Cork Constitution 32 Young Munster 19, Temple Hill
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win by 6-10 points
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