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Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Previews

Division 1A clubs have one final chance to improve their league position ahead of the Christmas break. Clontarf and Old Belvedere kick off the round with a ‘Friday Night Lights’ Dublin derby, while on Saturday great rivals Cork Constitution and Shannon, who boast 13 top flight titles between them, meet on Leeside.

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

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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CLONTARF (6th) v OLD BELVEDERE (3rd), Castle Avenue, Friday, November 30, 7.30pm

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Clontarf: LLWWLW; Old Belvedere: LLLWWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Clontarf: Points: Richie Lane 54; Tries: Michael McGrath, Timmy McCoy 3 each; Old Belvedere: Points: Josh Glynn 28; Tries: Daniel Riordan 5

Preview: A really good match in prospect for this ‘Friday Night Lights’ encounter at Castle Avenue. Old Belvedere have surprised a lot of people by moving up to third spot in the table.

After demolishing Cork Constitution 44-13, they must now show that it was not a flash in the pan. There is no doubt that ‘Belvo were brilliant on the day, with skipper Daniel Riordan giving a match-winning performance from full-back.

Clontarf, however, have been warned and they are unlikely to allow Old Belvedere the same sort of space. Castle Avenue is never the easiest place to play, although leaders Lansdowne did manage a late victory there recently.

Importantly, Clontarf responded with a very useful 20-18 away victory over Dolphin. Darragh Fitzpatrick, now that he is over his injury problems, could play a major role for the remainer of the season.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 14, 2012: Clontarf 35 Old Belvedere 7, Castle Avenue; Saturday, February 11, 2012: Old Belvedere 13 Clontarf 25, Anglesea Road

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

CORK CONSTITUTION (5th) v SHANNON (10th), Temple Hill

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Cork Constitution: WLWWWL; Shannon: LLLLLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Cork Constitution: Points: Johnny Holland 32; Tries: Darragh Lyons, Ivan Dineen 3 each; Shannon: Points: Rob Guerin 25; Tries: John Shine 2

Preview: Cork Constitution will be looking to bounce back after their shock 44-13 defeat to Old Belvedere.

In a sense, they already have following their dramatic ODM Munster Senior Cup final victory over UL Bohemians. Yet again, they came good in injury-time to win with Niall O’Driscoll’s second try of the game.

It is hard to explain what happened to them against Old Belvedere. While Old Belvedere performed superbly, Cork Constitution fell well below their normal standards.

But they are still in the top four, and the Shannon game provides them with a real chance to renew their title challenge with a bonus point victory.

Bottom side Shannon, to be fair, have shown a bit of an improvement but surely not enough for them to secure a result at Temple Hill.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 8, 2011: Cork Constitution 10 Shannon 14, Temple Hill; Saturday, March 24, 2012: Shannon 9 Cork Constitution 19, Coonagh

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

GARRYOWEN (2nd) v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (8th), Dooradoyle

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Garryowen: WWWLWW; St. Mary’s College: WLLLLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Garryowen: Points: Jamie Gavin 76; Tries: Barry O’Mahony 4; St. Mary’s College: Points: Gavin Dunne 23; Tries: Robbie Hudson, Kevin Croke 2 each

Preview: It is proving to be a very good season for Garryowen under the new coaching tandem of Tom Tierney and Paul Neville. No one is going to doubt their resolve following their 21-14 away success over Young Munster last time out.

That local derby win has left them on the tails of leaders Lansdowne. They can keep up the pressure with another victory against the holders St. Mary’s College.

But Garryowen will recognise that absolutely nothing can be taken for granted. While St. Mary’s may not be the force they were last season, they are well capable of lifting their game for this visit to Dooradoyle and the Shay Deering trophy match-up.

They did, after all, beat Garryowen twice last season, although both games were very closely-fought affairs. Once again, the goal-kicking of Garryowen out-half Jamie Gavin is going to be vital.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 1, 2011: Garryowen 9 St. Mary’s College 13, Dooradoyle; Saturday, February 4, 2012: St. Mary’s College 13 Garryowen 12, Templeville Road

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

UL BOHEMIANS (9th) v DOLPHIN (7th), Annacotty

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – UL Bohemians: LWLWLL; Dolphin: LWWWLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – UL Bohemians: Points: JJ Hanrahan 36; Tries: Rory White 3; Dolphin: Points: Barry Keeshan 55; Tries: Harry Fleming, Cian Bohane, Rob O’Herlihy, Christy Condon, James Cronin, Chris Bannon, Eamon Mills, Niall Scannell, Miah Cronin, Rory Scannell 1 each

Preview: You would have to feel for UL Bohemians following their dramatic 15-14 ODM Munster Senior Cup final defeat to Cork Constiitution.

Had they won the trophy for the first time in 50 years, it would undoubtedly have been a tremendous boost for their Ulster Bank League campaign. Now they have to try and put aside that disappointment by beating Dolphin.

It would be a much-needed victory as they have slipped down near the bottom of the table. At their best, UL Bohs are capable of playing some very decent rugby.

But Dolphin will not be in the mood to do them any favours, especially as they are also trying to get over a disappointing result last time out when Clontarf beat them 20-18 with an injury-time penalty.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 5, 2009: Dolphin UL Bohemians 3, Musgrave Park; Saturday, March 6, 2010: UL Bohemians 14 Dolphin 32, Thomond Park

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

YOUNG MUNSTER (4th) v LANSDOWNE (1st), Tom Clifford Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Young Munster: WWLLWL; Lansdowne: WWWLWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Young Munster: Points: Brian Haugh 65; Tries: Mark Doyle, Darragh O’Neill 2 each; Lansdowne: Points: Craig Ronaldson 66; Tries: Cian Aherne 8

Preview: The third game on in Limerick and potentially the best of them all. It is absolutely esssential for Young Munster that they can put a stop to Lansdowne’s gallop.

As things stand, they trail the league leaders by eight points, so another defeat would leave them a very long way adrift. Lansdowne will appreciate that they face a really tough test.

For example, they lost 15-13 at Tom Clifford Park last season, with Young Munster getting a late penalty. Furthermore, Young Munster will be desperate to respond in front of their home fans after losing to Garryowen.

That said, Lansdowne are a more formidable outfit this season. Their brand of open rugby makes them particularly difficult to stop, with free-scoring winger Cian Aherne proving a major threat.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 26, 2011: Young Munster 15 Lansdowne 13, Tom Clifford Park; Saturday, March 31, 2012: Lansdowne 44 Young Munster 18, Aviva Stadium back pitch

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