The big story in Division 1B will be the progress of Shannon, the most decorated club in the league and now playing outside the top tier for the first time. They kick off at home to Blackrock College on Saturday afternoon
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1B: Saturday, September 28
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
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BELFAST HARLEQUINS v BUCCANEERS, Deramore Park
Preview: Belfast Harlequins will be hoping that home advantage gives them the edge against a Buccaneers side that featured up close to the top of the table for much of last season.
How Belfast Harlequins would love to be able to call on the services of the talented Stuart Olding who has gone on to make a big impression with Ulster. But there is much talk that winger Rory Scholes is going to emerge as another exceptional talent.
Buccaneers played some very good rugby at times last season but tended to blow hot and cold. This is a match which could well be very close.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 26, 2013: Belfast Harlequins 27 Buccaneers 15, Deramore Park; Saturday, April 6, 2013: Buccaneers 39 Belfast Harlequins 22, Dubarry Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Belfast Harlequins to win by 1-5 points
DUBLIN UNIVERSITY v CORINTHIANS, Sydney Parade
Preview: Interestingly, Dublin University will be playing their opening home match at Sydney Parade because College Park has been relaid and will not be available for the rest of the season.
That said, the team that finished third in the table behind Ballynahinch and UCD last season should remain fairly competitive.
But the students have lost a couple of top influential players in Cathal Marsh to St. Mary’s College and David Joyce to Clontarf.
Corinthians, promoted from Division 2A, will represent decent opposition. They played some very good rugby last season and were one of the few sides to beat Terenure College.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 15, 2011: Dublin University 8 Corinthians 10, Trinity Sportsground, Santry; Saturday, October 29, 2011: Corinthians 6 Dublin University 9, Corinthian Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Dublin University to win by 6-10 points
MALONE v DUNGANNON, Gibson Park
Preview: Intriguing clash between these two Ulster rivals. Malone started last season off at a gallop looking like promotion candidates at an early stage.
But their form then dropped off alarmingly and they moved down to mid-table. They have recuited Alan O’Connor, a second row from UCD.
The Paddy Johns-coached Dungannon managed a surge at the end of the season to move clear of the relegation zone. They are potentially a decent outfit with fine players in winger Chris Cochrane and Ireland Under-20 full-back Peter Nelson.
Recent League Meetings – Friday, September 28, 2012: Malone 36 Dungannon 13, Gibson Park; Friday, March 29, 2013: Dungannon 46 Malone 19, Stevenson Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Malone to win by 1-5 points
SHANNON v BLACKROCK COLLEGE, Thomond Park
Preview: Shannon are determined to get straight back into the top flight after their relegation last season.
But it is far from straightforward following that 42-0 relegation/promotion play-off defeat by UCD. New head coach Ian Sherwin has brought in a lot of young players.
No doubt, he will be looking for inspiration from experienced half-backs Rob Guerin and Tadhg Bennett.
Blackrock must plan without the retired Des Dillon, but Mick Carroll will bring experience to the pack and David Godfrey is an important figure at out-half.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 7, 2012: Blackrock College 30 Shannon 15, Stradbrook; Saturday, April 14, 2012: Shannon 21 Blackrock College 3, Coonagh
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Shannon to win by 6-10 points
TERENURE COLLEGE v UL BOHEMIANS, Lakelands Park
Preview: Terenure College will be hoping to make a big impression in this division following their impressive march though Division 2A last season.
Everything suggests that the James Blaney-coached team are in fine fettle following their outstanding recent victories over Clontarf and St. Mary’s College which have brought them to the final of the Leinster Senior League Cup.
It is hard to know what to expect from a UL Bohemians side that will be without JJ Hanrahan because of his Munster commitments, along with the departed full-back Ben Martin.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 16, 2008: Terenure College 9 UL Bohemians 25, Lakelands Park; Saturday, March 7, 2009: UL Bohemians 34 Terenure College 0, Annacotty
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Terenure College to win by 1-5 points
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