There are plenty of juicy ties in Ulster Bank League Division 1A this weekend, none more so than the meeting of table toppers Young Munster and defending champions St. Mary’s College. Irish rugby’s newest cup, the McCarthy & O’Reilly trophy, is also up for grabs at Musgrave Park where Dolphin host Old Belvedere.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, October 6
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
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CLONTARF (6th) v GARRYOWEN (2nd), Castle Avenue
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Clontarf: L; Garryowen: W
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Clontarf: Points: Richie Lane 10; Tries: Cathal O’Flynn, Dermot O’Meara 1 each; Garryowen: Points: Jamie Gavin 14; Tries: Barry O’Mahony 1
Preview: There is the intriguing prospect of Barry O’Mahony returning to Castle Avenue as a member of the opposition after captaining Clontarf so successfully last season.
The talented flanker was outstanding then and it seems that he was just as good in helping Garryowen open their campaign with a 19-3 home success over Dolphin last weekend, scoing a vital try.
But Garryowen will appreciate that facing Clontarf away is a different matter altogether. Especially a Clontarf side that will be keen to prove a point after losing a 17-3 second half lead against Cork Constitution in their opener.
They have to put that defeat behind them as quickly as possible. This has the makings of a fine game as Clontarf are usually at their best in front of their own supporters, while Garryowen may well prove to be a much improved team this season.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 15, 2011: Garryowen 6 Clontarf 9, Dooradoyle; Saturday, March 31, 2012: Clontarf 47 Garryowen 18, Castle Avenue
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win by 1-5 points
DOLPHIN (9th) v OLD BELVEDERE (8th), Musgrave Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Dolphin: L; Old Belvedere: L
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Dolphin: Points: Eamonn Mills 3; Tries: -; Old Belvedere: Points: Josh Glynn 9; Tries: –
Preview: Two teams that lost their first outings. Dlophin were particularly disappointing in going down so heavily to Garryowen.
Old Belvedere, by comparision, could easily have got something out of their 16-9 home loss to Lansdowne. They very nearly got the equalising points in the dying minutes.
Their problem was that they did not take their chances. Full-back and skipper Daniel Riordan will be hoping that they make better use of their opportunities this time around.
Dolphin, however, will surely show a big improvement on home soil. They are normally very hard to beat at Musgrave Park and will be determined to become the first winners of the McCarthy & O’Reilly trophy.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 3, 2011: Old Belvedere 13 Dolphin 20, Anglesea Road; Saturday, February 18, 2012: Dolphin 17 Old Belvedere 16, Musgrave Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Dolphin to win by 6-10 points
UL BOHEMIANS (7th) v CORK CONSTITUTION (5th), Annacotty
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – UL Bohemians: L; Cork Constitution: W
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – UL Bohemians: Points: JJ Hanrahan 8; Tries: Rory White 1; Cork Constitution: Points: Gerry Hurley 12; Tries: James Ryan, Gerry Hurley, Darragh Lyons 1 each
Preview: One of the best matches of the weekend in prospect. Although they have again lost some key players, Cork Constitution continue to come up with the goods.
Their 22-20 victory over Clontarf last weekend after trailing 17-3 was vintage Constitution. What is more, they scored two cracking tries through Gerry Hurley and Darragh Lyons to turn the game around.
UL Bohs certainly have a tough opening to their campaign, facing St. Mary’s and Cork Con in their opening two games. Although they lost 17-13 to St. Mary’s, there was much to admire about the promoted Limerick outfit.
Their backs are capable of doing a lot of damage if they get sufficient ball. JJ Hanrahan at out-half is an obvious treat, as is Ben Martin at full-back.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 10, 2009: Cork Constitution 16 UL Bohemians 3, Temple Hill; Saturday, April 3, 2010: UL Bohemians 5 Cork Constitution 33, Thomond Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win by 1-5 points
YOUNG MUNSTER (1st) v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (4th), Tom Clifford Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Young Munster: W; St. Mary’s College: W
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Young Munster: Points: Brian Haugh 13; Tries: Mark Doyle 2; St. Mary’s College: Points: Ray Crotty 7; Tries: Marcus O’Driscoll, Kevin Croke 1 each
Preview: Probably the match of the day. Defending champions St. Mary’s produced possibly their best performance of their campaign to record a decisive 36-11 victory at Tom Clifford Park last season.
There is absolutely no question of them having it so easy this time around. For one thing, Young Munster will be determined to prove a point against a side that beat them twice last year.
For another, they seem to be in decent shape despite the loss of several players. Head coach Mike Prendergast must have been delighted with their efforts in thrashing Shannon 36-3 first time out with Mark Doyle getting two of their four tries.
But St. Mary’s also look in good shape after winning their first league match under new boss Hugh Hogan. Intriguingly, their out-half Andrew Burke is a former Young Munster player.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 7, 2012: Young Munster 11 St. Mary’s College 36, Tom Clifford Park; Saturday, April 21, 2012: St. Mary’s College 23 Young Munster 19, Templeville Road
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win by 1-5 points
LANSDOWNE (3rd) v SHANNON (10th), Aviva Stadium back pitch, Sunday, October 7, 2.30pm
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Lansdowne: W; Shannon: L
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Lansdowne: Points: Craig Ronaldson 11; Tries: Cian Aherne 1; Shannon: Points: Ben Sargent 3; Tries: –
Preview: Quite clearly, Shannon are going to have to make a huge improvement from last weekend’s dismal effort against Young Munster which was broadcast live by Irish Rugby TV.
Then again, they are one of the few teams to have won on the artificial pitch at the Aviva Stadium. Last season they managed to pull off a shock 22-17 succcess, a result which was key in seeing them avoid relegation.
Somehow though it is hard to see them repeating that triumph. Lansdowne very nearly let the match slip away against Old Belvedere first time out but they remain a very useful outfit.
They have two of the most dangerous wings around in Matt Healy and Cian Aherne, while number 10 Craig Ronaldson is amongst the best goal-kickers.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 3, 2011: Shannon 16 Lansdowne 25, Coonagh; Saturday, February 4, 2012: Lansdowne 17 Shannon 22, Aviva Stadium back pitch
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win by 6-10 points