The latest round of action in Division 1A kicks off with another eagerly-awaited Friday Night Lights clash – the Limerick derby between UL Bohemians and Garryowen at Thomond Park. Topping the bill on Saturday is Cork Constitution’s visit to current leaders Lansdowne.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, November 3
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
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UL BOHEMIANS (8th) v GARRYOWEN (2nd), Thomond Park, Friday, November 2, 7.30pm
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – UL Bohemians: LWL; Garryowen: WWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – UL Bohemians: Points: JJ Hanrahan 16; Tries: Mossy Lawler 2; Garryowen: Points: Jamie Gavin 41; Tries: Barry O’Mahony 4
Preview: Garryowen will go top if they can win this derby encounter under floodlights at Thomond Park. With three wins out of three, they along with Lansdowne, are the form teams in the division.
So far, they have not put a foot wrong, their latest success seeing them account for Old Belvedere 34-15 at home. Barry O’Mahony seems to be relishing his return to the club, scoring a hat-trick of tries in that match.
But Garryowen will appreciate that UL Bohs are likely to prove a very different proposition. They will be keen to bounce back after an uncharacteristically tame display when losing heavily to Clontarf last weekend.
The absence of star back JJ Hanrahan could not be used as an excuse as UL Bohs badly lost the physical battle up front. One suspects they will be a lot more committed tonight.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 12, 2009: UL Bohemians 5 Garryowen 9, Thomond Park; Saturday, March 27, 2010: Garryowen 13 UL Bohemians 16, Dooradoyle
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Garryowen to win by 6-10 points
DOLPHIN (4th) v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (7th), Musgrave Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Dolphin: LWW; St. Mary’s College: WLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Dolphin: Points: Barry Keeshan 27; Tries: Harry Fleming, Cian Bohane, Rob O’Herlihy, Christy Condon 1 each; St. Mary’s College: Points: Ray Crotty 13; Tries: Marcus O’Driscoll, Kevin Croke, Kevin Sheahan 1 each
Preview: St. Mary’s College are hoping to repeat the heroics of last season when they went on to capture the title after losing two of their opening three games.
But that is going to be far from easy, judging from St. Mary’s heavy defeat at home to Lansdowne. New head coach Hugh Hogan has not be helped by a series of injuries.
Needless to say, Dolphin will not be in the mood to do him any favours. They were good enough, after all, to beat St. Mary’s 12-8 in the corresponding fixture last season and will see no reason why they cannot repeat that success.
Dolphin currently lie fourth in the table with two wins out of three. Importantly, Barry Keeshan continues to be one of the best marksmen around, contributing 16 points in their most recent victory over Shannon.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 29, 2011: St. Mary’s College 15 Dolphin 7, Templeville Road; Saturday, February 11, 2012: Dolphin 12 St. Mary’s College 8, Musgrave Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Dolphin to win by 1-5 points
LANSDOWNE (1st) v CORK CONSTITUTION (5th), Aviva Stadium back pitch
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Lansdowne: WWW; Cork Constitution: WLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Lansdowne: Points: Craig Ronaldson 38; Tries: Cian Aherne 4; Cork Constitution: Points: Gerry Hurley 12; Tries: Darragh Lyons, Ivan Dineen 2 each
Preview: Leaders Lansdowne only have to reflect on the opening match of last season to appreciate that they face a difficult task against Cork Constitution.
On that occasion, Cork Constitution travelled to the back pitch at the Aviva Stadium to win 21-9. Furthermore, they went on to complete the double over Lansdowne.
That said, Lansdowne have clearly come on a lot this season under the coaching of Mike Ruddock and Emmett Farrell. Their back-line can be devastating, as was emphasised by winger Cian Aherne’s achievement in getting at hat-trick of tries in the victory over St. Mary’s.
Cork Con, for their part, are going pretty well, winning two of out three. Last weekend’s dramatic 21-20 victory over Young Munster again demonstrated their remarkable capacity to pull a game out of the fire.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 1, 2011: Lansdowne 9 Cork Constitution 21, Aviva Stadium back pitch; Saturday, January 28, 2012: Cork Constitution 19 Lansdowne 13, Temple Hill
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win by 1-5 points
OLD BELVEDERE (9th) v SHANNON (10th), Anglesea Road
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Old Belvedere: LLL; Shannon: LLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Old Belvedere: Points: Josh Glynn 14; Tries: David Mongan 2; Shannon: Points: Rob Guerin 10; Tries: John Shine, James Loxton 1 each
Preview: A lot at stake here at the wrong end of the table. Neither team has managed a win to date. Bottom-placed Shannon are in the worse situation, having conceded 115 points in their three outings.
They already look prime candidates for relegation. If they are to improve matters, this is the sort of game they need to
But Old Belvedere will start as favourites, if only because of the fact that they are are home and already have picked up two losing bonus points.
Indeed, they gave Lansdowne a decent game in their only previous home outing. Full-back Daniel Riordan remains a key man.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 5, 2011: Shannon 18 Old Belvedere 18, Coonagh; Saturday, March 31, 2012: Old Belvedere 31 Shannon 16, Anglesea Road
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Old Belvedere to win by 6-10 points
YOUNG MUNSTER (3rd) v CLONTARF (6th), Tom Clifford Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Young Munster: WWL; Clontarf: LLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Young Munster: Points: Brian Haugh 39; Tries: Mark Doyle 2; Clontarf: Points: Richie Lane 33; Tries: Cathal O’Flynn, Dermot O’Meara, Martin Garvey, Adrian D’Arcy, Michael McGrath, Timmy McCoy, Evan Ryan 1 each
Preview: Young Munster must still be trying to get over the circumstances of their 21-20 away defeat by Cork Constitution. To lose out to an injury-time try and conversion is tough.
But they need to respond quickly. That is not going to be straightforward against a Clontarf side that at last found top form by beating UL Bohemians 35-10. Head coach Andy Wood was understandably delighted with the physicality show by his side after defeats in their first two games.
Last season this fixture produced a tremendous match with Clontarf winning 24-17 at Tom Clifford Park. It is sure to be another fiercely-fought encounter this time around.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 8, 2011: Clontarf 16 Young Munster 15, Castle Avenue; Saturday, March 24, 2012: Young Munster 17 Clontarf 24, Tom Clifford Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win by 1-5 points