Friday Night Lights kicks into gear in a big way with two huge games in Division 1A of the Ulster Bank League. The Cork derby at Musgrave Park between Dolphin and Cork Constitution needs little introduction. Lansdowne host Old Belvedere in the historic first club match on the main pitch at the Aviva Stadium – a game that will be streamed live on www.IrishRugby.ie.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, October 15
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
DOLPHIN (4th) v CORK CONSTITUTION (3rd), Musgrave Park, Friday, October 14, 7.30pm
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Dolphin: LW; Cork Constitution: WL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Dolphin: Points: Barry Keeshan 15; Tries: Eric Moloney 2; Cork Constitution: Points: Gerry Hurley 23; Tries: Brian Hayes 1
Preview: One of the deepest rivalries in Cork, this derby match between Dolphin and Cork Constitution is always worth catching.
It was honours even last season with one win apiece in the league. Interestingly both sides have lost to Shannon in the opening two weeks of this term.
Dolphin may give Munster and Ireland scrum half Tomas O’Leary some much-needed game-time as he continues on the road to recovery, while Cork Con will bring their young tyros to bear in what should be a keenly-contested game.
There will be plenty of half-time activity also with an appearance from O’Leary’s provincial team-mate Doug Howlett in a kicking competition.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 13, 2010: Cork Constitution 9 Dolphin 19, Temple Hill; Saturday, February 19, 2011: Dolphin 16 Cork Constitution 23, Musgrave Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win by 1-5 points
LANSDOWNE (8th) v OLD BELVEDERE (9th), Aviva Stadium main pitch, Friday, October 14, 7.30pm
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Lansdowne: LW; Old Belvedere: LL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Lansdowne: Points: Craig Ronaldson 22; Tries: Cian Aherne, Sean Carey 1 each; Old Belvedere: Points: Conal Keane 19; Tries: Kevin Buckley, Aidan Wynne, Henry Bryce, Bernard Smyth 1 each
Preview: An historic game for both sides as they become the first club teams to play on the main pitch at the Aviva Stadium. Expect a sizeable crowd for this classic Dublin floodlit derby.
Lansdowne recovered from their opening day defeat to Cork Constitution by beating St. Mary’s College last time out. Mike Ruddock’s men boast a good mix of youth and experience.
Reigning champions Old Belvedere come into this game in search of their first win of the league season. A narrow defeat to Young Munster was followed by a five-point loss to Garryowen.
Entry by gates O and P on Lansdowne Road is 10 euro for adults and free for children and OAPs. The game will also be streamed live right here on IrishRugby.ie.
Recent League Meeting – Saturday, March 22, 2008: Old Belvedere 35 Lansdowne 14, Anglesea Road
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Old Belvedere to win by 1-5 points
BLACKROCK COLLEGE (10th) v YOUNG MUNSTER (5th), Stradbrook
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Blackrock College: LL; Young Munster: WL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Blackrock College: Points: Darragh Fitzpatrick 11; Tries: Andrew Letham 1; Young Munster: Points: Willie Staunton 33; Tries: Ray Moloney 1
Preview: It has been a very tough start for recently-apppointed Blackrock head coach Eric Miller. Last weekend’s defeat to Dolphin means that they prop up the table.
They will not find the going easy against a Young Munster side which has started their campaign pretty well despite carrying a number of injuries in the squad. They went really close to defeating a highly-rated Clontarf outfit away last weekend.
Had it not been for the sin-binning of Ger Slattery followed by a penalty try, they may well have done so, instead of losing 16-15.
Once again, their half-back partnership of Mike Prendergast and Willie Staunton is going to have a big say in this clash.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 13, 2010: Young Munster 14 Blackrock College 15, Tom Clifford Park; Saturday, February 19, 2011: Blackrock College 11 Young Munster 13, Stradbrook
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win by 1-5 points
GARRYOWEN (6th) v CLONTARF (1st), Dooradoyle
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Garryowen: LW; Clontarf: WW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Garryowen: Points: Declan Cusack 24; Tries: Conan Doyle, Alan Gaughan, Ronan O’Mahony 1 each; Clontarf: Points: Richie Lane 26; Tries: Barry O’Mahony, Dermot O’Meara, Daragh O’Shea 1 each
Preview: After beating the holders Old Belvedere, Paul Cunningham’s young Garryowen outfit will be hoping to add the scalp of league leaders Clontarf.
They played really well against Old Belvedere, playing the game at a high tempo. Out-half Declan Cusack’s outstanding place-kicking was crucial, as was his game management.
Clontarf were somewhat relieved to have pipped Young Munster. But Andy Wood’s team has bundles of experience, knows what it takes to win, and in Richie Lane also have a quality place-kicker.
A good test then for both sides and if ‘Tarf can hit their straps, they could be three from three in as many weeks.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 5, 2009: Garryowen 3 Clontarf 18, Dooradoyle; Saturday, March 6, 2010: Clontarf 14 Garryowen 15, Castle Avenue
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Garryowen to win by 1-5 points
SHANNON (2nd) v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (7th), Thomond Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Shannon: WW; St. Mary’s College: WL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Shannon: Points: Gareth Quinn McDonogh 21; Tries: Luke O’Dea 1; St. Mary’s College: Points: Gavin Dunne 27; Tries: Matt D’Arcy 1
Preview: Have Shannon rediscovered their mojo? Two wins, including a rare away success over Cork Constitution, has them up in second place in the table.
At times they rode their luck against Cork Con but it was still a hell of a win. Player-coach Stephen Keogh is clearly doing a top class job.
It is hard to know what to make of St. Mary’s. They beat Garryowen away first time out, then disappointed when losing 23-19 at home to Lansdowne.
Gavin Dunne was responsible for all of their points, scoring a try, converting it, and landing three penalties and a drop goal.
Shannon can show the extent of their rejuvenation on Saturday and a win will keep the pressure on old Dublin rivals Clontarf.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 23, 2010: St. Mary’s College 53 Shannon 0, Templeville Road; Saturday, February 5, 2011: Shannon 20 St. Mary’s College 15, Coonagh
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Shannon to win by 6-10 points
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