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Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Previews

With just three points separating the top three teams and only four rounds of matches remaining, the Division 1A title race is really hotting up. Third-placed Young Munster host leaders Clontarf in a hugely important encounter on Saturday, while St. Mary’s College, who lie second, will have home advantage against lowly Blackrock College.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, March 24

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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DOLPHIN (7th) v LANSDOWNE (6th), Musgrave Park

Preview: Both of these teams played pretty well last time out without getting much reward. Dolphin must have been particularly disappointed to have lost out 29-28 to Cork Consitution after leading 22-5 at one stage.

Back on their home patch, they will surely fancy their chances of returning to winning form. Once Barry Keeshan is firing on all cylinders, they tend to be very good at Musgrave Park.

But they will appreciate that the young Lansdowne outfit will represent a serious threat if they get decent ball. They did, after all, beat Dolphin 38-21 at the Aviva Stadium in November.

What is more, they scored three good tries when losing to title contenders St. Mary’s 27-22 last time out but generally they are not the same force away from home.

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

GARRYOWEN (5th) v OLD BELVEDERE (10th), Dooradoyle, 3pm

Preview: Garryowen are up to fifth following the 20-20 draw in their refixed game against Shannon. They will be keen to get ahead of Cork Constitution into fourth spot.

On the face of it, this game against the bottom side in the table should provide them with a great opportunity for points. But their head coach Paul Cunningham will know better than anyone that Old Belvedere are quite capable of springing a surprise.

Had it not been for a late penalty from Aidan Wynne going wide, they would have upset Young Munster in their last outing. As it was, they had to settle for a 19-18 defeat.

But Old Belvedere did shown definite signs of improvement under the coaching of Andy Dunne. If they can repeat their most recent effort, this could be a reasonably competitive affair.

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

SHANNON (8th) v CORK CONSTITUTION (4th), Coonagh

Preview: Slowly but surely Shannon seem to be pulling clear of second-from-bottom Blackrock College. Their draw with Garryowen means that they now have five points to spare over their Dublin rivals.

But they could definitely do with more breathing space. If they could somehow beat Cork Constitution for a second time during the league campaign, it would be a massive boost.

It will though take one of of their best displays of the season. Tadhg Bennett, scorer of all 20 points in the drawn encounter with Garryowen, is clearly going to be a key figure.

Cork Con, for their part, will not be doing Shannon any favours. Besides the issue of taking revenge for their early season 14-10 defeat at Temple Hill, they will be keen to keep their three sides ahead of them in the table honest.

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

ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (2nd) v BLACKROCK COLLEGE (9th), Templeville Road

Preview: On paper, this looks pretty straightforward. St. Mary’s are just a point off the top having produced a high class performance to beat Lansdowne away.

They were very good on the day, their big ball carrying forwards doing considerable damage. Blackrock, by contrast, seem to be in freefall, after conceding seven tries when losing 42-3 to Clontarf.

‘Rock player-coach Eric Miller even came on as a replacement but was unable to restrict the damage.

It was announced this week that Miller has resigned from the role with immediate effect, and Ben Mannion will be acting head coach until the end of the season.

Perhaps the availability of some of Blackrock’s Leinster contingent in the backs division would help matters. But the big problem will surely be up front. St. Mary’s pack is very effective, particularly at scrum time.

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: St. Mary’s College to win by 6-10 points

YOUNG MUNSTER (10th) v CLONTARF (3rd), Tom Clifford Park

Preview: The match of the day. This is a huge encounter between third-placed Young Munster and top of the table Clontarf.

There are just three points between them and it is anyone’s guess who is going to come out on top at Tom Clifford Park. Young Munster will be hoping that home advantage and the accurate boot of Willie Staunton gives them an edge.

When the sides met at Castle Avenue back in October, there was was nothing in it with Clontarf emerging victorious 16-15. It promises to be very close again this time.

Clontarf also have their match winners. Currently, no one seems to be playing better than flanker Barry O’Mahony, the scorer of two tries for the Ireland Club team in their recent victory over Scotland.

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

Related Links –

Ulster Bank League Division 1A Table