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Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Previews

A new look ten-team league with no play-offs at the end of the season means every game will count in the Ulster Bank League top flight. Reigning champions Old Belvedere open with a trip to the Cookies, wihile beaten finalists and perennial favourites Cork Constitution are in Dublin to face the promoted Lansdowne.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, October 1

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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BLACKROCK COLLEGE v CLONTARF, Stradbrook

Preview: Eric Miller’s Blackrock College team will face a powerful Clontarf outfit which has an increasingly strong Cork connection.

Frank Cogan and Richie Lane have moved up from Cork Con to join their former colleague Evan Ryan, and ex-Dolphin players Sam Cronin and skipper Barry O’Mahony.

Number 8 Cogan and winger Lane have been crucial to the Cork Con success story of recent seasons.

But Clontarf look certain to be without their out-half Noel Reid who is tied up with Leinster. Blackrock, boosted by the recuitment of Miller as head coach, will be looking to Mick Carroll and Des Dillon to make a big impression up front.

Most Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 31, 2009: Clontarf 9 Blackrock College 3, Castle Avenue; Saturday, January 23, 2010: Blackrock College 26 Clontarf 13, Stradbrook

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

GARRYOWEN v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE, Dooradoyle

Preview: An interesting match in prospect as these two old rivals battle for the Shay Deering trophy. Garryowen have started the season in great fashion, reaching the final of the Munster Senior Cup.

Their backs have been particularly impressive, scoring a hatful of tries, while Lemeki Vaipulu, recruited from Old Crescent, is proving a very powerful number 8. They could be a surprise packet this season.

That said, St. Mary’s are sure to prove very formidable opposition. They have Peter Smyth back in as head coach, with Ciaran Potts assisting him – that is the same combination which got them to the final a few seasons back.

Most Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 13, 2010: St. Mary’s College 29 Garryowen 6, Templeville Road; Saturday, February 19, 2011: Garryowen 15 St. Mary’s College 39, Dooradoyle

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

LANSDOWNE v CORK CONSTITUTION, Aviva Stadium back pitch

Preview: Cork Constitution have been decimated with most of last year’s team involved with Munster and last year’s skipper Frank Cogan and winger Richie Lane gone to Clontarf.

So, their astute coaching partnership of Brian Walsh and Brian Hickey will bring a very young and untried side to face Lansdowne on the artificial back pitch at the Aviva Stadium.

Lansdowne, now coached by Mike Ruddock and Emmett Farrell, will also have a very young side on duty.

They have lost Aidan McCullen and Kieran Lewis (both retired) among others. But they still have some good young talent in their side, captained by former Leinster full-back Ross McCarron.

Most Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 17, 2007; Cork Constitution 28 Lansdowne 20, Temple Hill; Saturday, January 19, 2008: Lansdowne 13 Cork Constitution 20, the RDS

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

SHANNON v DOLPHIN, Coonagh

Preview: Shannon received a bit of a setback last weekend when they were beaten 31-14 by Bruff in the Munster Senior Cup semi-final at Coonagh.

What is more, they will be without their talented back rower Paddy Butler who has been named in the Munster side. Overall, however, their new player-coach Stephen Keogh seems to be doing a great job and his side will be Thinking Big!

Dolphin represent difficult opposition. They have a similar set-up to last season and crucially include one of the best kicking out-halves around in Barry Keeshan. A close encounter in prospect.

Most Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 2, 2010: Dolphin 16 Shannon 9, Musgrave Park; Saturday, April 2, 2011: Shannon 28 Dolphin 18, Coonagh

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

YOUNG MUNSTER v OLD BELVEDERE, Tom Clifford Park

Preview: The holders Old Belvedere face a tough first match in defence of their title against a Young Munster side which should have their player-coach Mike Prendergast back at scrum half following his knee problems.

This is welcome news as they will be without their influential out-half Alan Kingsley, now in Australia.

Since winning the competition in such exciting fashion against Cork Con, Old Belvedere have lost their formidable number 8 Leo Auva’a to Leinster, while flanker Jason Risdon has returned to New Zealand.

But their boss Phil Werahiko has recruited well and is hopeful of another good season. Quite clearly, scrum half Simon Keogh is going to again prove a key figure.

Most Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 30, 2010: Young Munster 0 Old Belvedere 31, Tom Clifford Park; Saturday, February 12, 2011: Old Belvedere 17 Young Munster 19, Anglesea Road

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

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Related Links –

Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 2A Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 2B Previews