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Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Previews

Belvo and ‘Tarf are making this a two horse race but there are some interesting match ups this weekend in Division 1A of the Ulster Bank League.


Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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Garryowen (10th) v Cork Constitution (3rd), Dooradoyle

GARRYOWEN remain very much on the tails of Ballynahinch at the bottom of the table despite their 26-20 away defeat at the hands of UCD.

Following Ballynahinch’s defeat by Old Belvedere last weekend, Garryowen now trail their Ulster rivals by three points with the same amount of games played.

So, it’s still all to play for in the battle to avoid the automatic relegation spot.

Although they lost 26-20 to UCD, Garryowen showed plenty of fighting spirit, recovering from a big deficit to secure a losing bonus point. They will need to display the same attitude against Cork Constitution.

Con represent a difficult proposition. While a couple of recent defeats have knocked the stuffing out of their title challenge, they still lie third in the table and will be going for the double over Garryowen having recorded a narrow 18-15 success at Temple Hill.

Lansdowne (4th) v Ballynahinch (9th), Aviva Stadium Back Pitch

VITAL encounter for Ballynahinch as they bid to stay ahead of Garryowen but they will not find it easy against fourth placed Lansdowne on the back pitch at the Aviva Stadium.

No doubt, Lansdowne will be determined to erase the memory of their most recent outing which saw them blow a 21-3 advantage before losing 24-21 in the dying minutes away to Young Munster. They should never have allowed that to happen.

They have already beaten Ballynahinch 21-14 away in windy conditions and everything suggests that they should be able to complete the double, particularly if their pacey back division is provided with sufficient possession.

But Ballynahinch will not be lacking in incentive given their position just ahead of Garryowen at the wrong end of the table.

At their best they are capable of playing some good rugby, as they demonstrated when coming close to upsetting Old Belvedere away earlier in their campaign.

Old Belvedere (1st) v Young Munster (5th), Anglesea Road

NEW leaders Old Belvedere will be anxious to consolidate their position with yet another victory, this time at home to a Young Munster team they have had some great battles with in more recent times.

Their 23-15 away success over Ballynahinch means that Old Belvedere are three points clear of Clontarf with a game more played.

In what is now very definitely a two horse race, it does seem that the March 28 meeting between the two front-runners could decide the title outcome.

But before then Old Belvedere have to continue winning and that means collecting at least four points at home to Young Munster. You would have to suspect that they are capable of doing so at Anglesea Road.

But Young Munster remain very dangerous opposition. While they have had their problems off the pitch this season, there seems little wrong with their attitude on it following a dramatic victory over Lansdowne which saw them snatch victory with a last minute try.

St Mary’s College (7th) v Clontarf (1st), Templeville Road

NEVER mind their 59-7 humiliation of Dolphin last time out, this Templeville Road encounter represents a real test of title chasing Clontarf.

Traditionally they have struggled against St Mary’s, although they did beat them 24-13 when the sides met at Castle Avenue in the first series of games.

Importantly, St Mary’s have made a good recovery after a poor first half to their campaign.

Their most recent 17-10 away victory over Ballynahinch means that they have three wins and a draw in 2014. That said, they are going to have to be very good to upset Clontarf in their current form.

They were brilliant against Dolphin with their back three of Max McFarland, Darragh Fitzpatrick and Michael McGrath contributing six of their nine tries. 

That said, the efforts of their outstanding pack will be just as important, if not more so, if they are to beat St Mary’s.

Dolphin (8th) v UCD (6th), Musgrave Park, Sunday 2.30

JUST  how do Dolphin recover from the mauling at the hands of Clontarf? To be fair, absolutely nothing went right for them and they are a much better side than that result would suggest.

For instance, they recently completed the double over their great rivals Cork Con which suggests that they definitely have something going for them when they put their minds to it.

They also have some outstanding young players with centre Cian Bohane a genuine prospect.

When UCD beat them 22-7 earlier in the campaign, the students were flying high at the top of the table. Since then, of course, the Belfield outfit have gone through a bad patch.

Importantly though they did return to winning ways by beating Garryowen 26-20 in their last league outing. Furthermore, they received more encouragement when an understrength side defeated Dublin University in the Colours match.