There is plenty to get excited about in Division 1A this weekend with rising young talent on show in matches at Clontarf, Cork Constitution, UCD, Young Munster and Dolphin.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, October 5
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
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CLONTARF (6th) v GARRYOWEN (10th), Castle Avenue
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Clontarf: L; Garryowen: L
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Clontarf: Points: David Joyce 8; Tries: Michael McGrath, Evan Ryan 1 each; Garryowen: Points: Jamie Gavin 8; Tries: Andrew O’Byrne 1
Preview: Two of the leading contenders form last season and both will be desperate to record a victory after losing their opening games.
Whereas Garryowen could have absolutely no complaints when going under 30-13 at home to Dolphin, Clontarf must have felt very disappointed to have lost 24-21 away to Old Belvedere.
Initially, they looked way on their way to victory with tries from Michael McGrath and Evan Ryan but they subsequently lost their way.
Head coach Andy Wood will now be keen not to replicate the start of last season which saw Clontarf lose both of their opening matches. They will probably go into this game as favourites on the basis that they are at home.
Garryowen will need to improve considerably from last week. Jamie Gavin, back to full fitness after missing much of last season, will be a key figure for them at out-half.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 6, 2012: Clontarf 13 Garryowen 23, Castle Avenue; Saturday, April 20: Garryowen 17 Clontarf 11, Dooradoyle
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win by 1-5 points
CORK CONSTITUTION (4th) v LANSDOWNE (9th), Temple Hill
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Cork Constitution: W; Lansdowne: L
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Cork Constitution: Points: Darragh Lyons 11; Tries: Joe McSwiney, Johnny Holland 1 each; Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 9; Tries: Cian Aherne 1
Preview: A quick return for Scott Deasy to his former club Cork Constitution after linking up with Lansdowne.
Last weekend, the former Munster player kicked three penalties when making his Ulster Bank League debut for the reigning champions but it was not enough to stop them going down 27-14 to UCD.
It was a difficult game as Lansdowne were missing several players against very good opponents.
Nor is it likely to be easy for them against Cork Con. Last season, Lansdowne won handsomely at Temple Hill but Cork Con must feel they have a better chance this time around.
Much will depend on what team Lansdowne manage to put out. Cork Con seem in good shape having beaten Ballynahinch 24-17 away first time out with Johhny Holland putting in a star performance.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 3, 2012: Lansdowne 22 Cork Constitution 25, Aviva Stadium back pitch; Saturday, February 23, 2013: Cork Constitution 14 Lansdowne 34, Temple Hill
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win by 1-5 points
UCD (1st) v OLD BELVEDERE (5th), Belfield
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – UCD: W; Old Belvedere: W
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – UCD: Points: James Thornton 12; Tries: Conor Gilsenan, Barry Daly, Andrew Boyle 1 each; Old Belvedere: Points: Josh Glynn 14; Tries: Shaun Berne, John Kennedy 1 each
Preview: A match that is well worth looking forward to with both teams having won their opening games.
Quite a few people see UCD as potential challengers for the title. All the more so after they comfortably beat the defending champions Lansdowne 27-14 away last Satruday.
Remarkably, they did so despite having three players sin-binned in the first half. They carried a threat virtually every time they moved the ball with Conor Gilsenan excelling in the back row and and Cathal McGrath, Barry Daly and Sam Coghlan Murray all creating gaps behind the scrum.
They will come up against an Old Belvedere side that had been talked about as potential relegation candidates.
Yet, they did really well to come from behind to overcome Clontarf in the first outing, so they will, no doubt, be optimistic that they can provide the students with a decent test at Belfield.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 1, 2007: UCD 24 Old Belvedere 22, Belfield; Saturday, October 4, 2008: Old Belvedere 30 UCD 14, Anglesea Road
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: UCD to win by 6-10 points
YOUNG MUNSTER (3rd) v BALLYNAHINCH (7th), Tom Clifford Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Young Munster: W; Ballynahinch: L
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Young Munster: Points: Brian Haugh 16; Tries: Derry O’Connor, Hugh McGrath 1 each; Ballynahinch: Points: Richie Lobb 9; Tries: Aaron Ferris 1
Preview: Despite a lot of talk about Young Munster being in trouble, they travelled to Templeville Road to beat St. Mary’s College in their first game.
That was quite an achievement, although St. Mary’s did have a player sent off in the final quarter. New head coach John Staunton must have been particularly pleased with the place-kicking form of Brian Haugh who landed two conversions and four penalties.
Young Munster will be looking for another big performance from him against a Ballynahinch side that did really well to top Division 1B last season, ahead of UCD.
The are a well coached side quite capable of making life very difficult for their Limerick opponents. But they will be hoping for an improvement from the 24-17 opening home loss to Cork Con.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 31, 2009: Ballynahinch 5 Young Munster 33, Ballymacarn Park; Saturday, January 23, 2010: Young Munster 15 Ballynahinch 12, Tom Clifford Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win by 1-5 points
DOLPHIN (1st) v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (8th), Musgrave Park, Sunday, October 6, 2.30pm
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Dolphin: W; St. Mary’s College: L
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Dolphin: Points: Rory Scannell 15; Tries: Eamonn Mills, Rory Scannell, James Kiernan 1 each; St. Mary’s College: Points: Cathal Marsh, Ryan O’Loughlin, Colm McMahon 5 each; Tries: Cathal Marsh, Ryan O’Loughlin, Colm McMahon 1 each
Preview: This game should go a long way towards telling just how good Dolphin are. They were, by all accounts, very good during their 30-13 bonus point away victory over Garryowen first time out.
Head coach Steve Ford was entitled to feel delighted. The pack was outstanding and Rory Scannell had a huge game, scoring 15 points with a try, two conversions and two penalties.
The lively Cian Bohane is another threat to St. Mary’s who will be hoping to bounce back quickly after losing at home to Young Munster.
Given that they scored three tries to one, they must feel it was a match thery should never have lost.
But they did not help themselves with Colm McMahon getting sent off for two yellow cards. What is more, the normally accurate Gavin Dunne had an off-day with his goal-kicking. Remedy that and they could really threaten the league leaders.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 3, 2012: Dolphin 32 St. Mary’s College 14, Musgrave Park; Saturday, February 23, 2013: St. Mary’s College 20 Dolphin 18, Templeville Road
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: St. Mary’s College to win by 1-5 points