The reverse Division 1A fixtures from before Christmas give clubs a chance to either complete the double or avenge a defeat, as the second half of the Ulster Bank League season gets underway.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, January 2
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
Ulster Bank League Results Service: Send UBL to 51444. To unsubscribe send the word STOP to 0876445950. Search #UBL on Twitter for club updates.
GALWEGIANS (9th) v YOUNG MUNSTER (5th), Crowley Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Galwegians: WLLWLLLW; Young Munster: LDLDWWWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Galwegians: Points: Aidan Moynihan 46; Tries: Ed O’Keeffe 5; Young Munster: Points: Paul Downes 48; Tries: Alan Kennedy 3
Preview: It seems a long time since Galwegians got the better of Ballynahinch to end a three-match losing streak. Since then, their early December trip to Young Munster was postponed and they regained the Connacht Senior Cup title from Buccaneers.
Munsters probably would have preferred to play through the Christmas break given they are aiming for their fifth win on the trot. Notably, Dan Goggin and Ben Kilkenny impressed last week in the Munster Development side’s defeat of the Ireland Under-20s.
The Cookies will certainly have to keep Ed O’Keeffe and company quiet, but if they pick up from where they left off a few weeks back when winning at Terenure, then it should be a winning start to 2016 for David Corkery’s men.
Recent League Meetings – The teams have not played each other since March 2010
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win
GARRYOWEN (4th) v CLONTARF (2nd), Dooradoyle
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Garryowen: WDWLWLWLL; Clontarf: WWWDLWWDW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Garryowen: Points: Neil Cronin 64; Tries: Neil Cronin 4; Clontarf: Points: Joey Carbery 93; Tries: Mick McGrath 9
Preview: For the ‘Sound of Music’ fans in the Garryowen dressing room, they will have been trying to work out ‘How Do You Solve a Problem like Mick?’ over Christmas. The Mick in question is Clontarf’s Mick McGrath who ran in a hat-trick of tries against them recently.
McGrath, the division’s top scorer with nine tries, dominated that December 5 clash at Castle Avenue, with Joey Carbery also kicking 14 points in a 39-25 home win. Both sides came away with try-scoring bonus points.
Garryowen scrum half Neil Cronin took his league tally to four tries last time out and he will be a key man if the Light Blues are to win for the first time in three outings.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, March 22, 2014: Garryowen 12 Clontarf 32, Dooradoyle; Saturday, December 5, 2015: Clontarf 39 Garryowen 25, Castle Avenue
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win
LANSDOWNE (7th) v BALLYNAHINCH (10th), Aviva Stadium back pitch
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Lansdowne: WDWLLWLDL; Ballynahinch: LLLLLLLLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 70; Tries: Joe O’Brien 3; Ballynahinch: Points: Chris Quinn 41; Tries: Craig Trenier 3
Preview: Lansdowne will be pleased to see the back of 2015 after losing four of their last six league games, including a surprise 25-13 reversal at bottom side Ballynahinch most recently.
The title holders have slid down to seventh place – six points outside the top four – and really need to rediscover their winning touch. ‘Hinch deservedly took the spoils on a windswept day at Ballymacarn Park, helped on their way by tries from Craig Trenier, Jonny Simpson and Paul Rowley.
The County Down side are hoping that maiden league success, coupled with their retention of the Ulster Senior Cup, can spur them on to greater things. Watch out for 21-year-old Ulster Academy prop Trenier, who has touched down three times for ‘Hinch in the last seven rounds.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 31, 2015: Lansdowne 39 Ballynahinch 18, Aviva Stadium back pitch; Saturday, December 5, 2015: Ballynahinch 25 Lansdowne 13, Ballymacarn Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win
OLD BELVEDERE (3rd) v UCD (1st), Anglesea Road
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Old Belvedere: WLWWWLLWL; UCD: LWWDLWWWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Old Belvedere: Points: Shane McDonald 52; Tries: Rory O’Loughlin, Daniel Riordan 5 each; UCD: Points: Conall Doherty 45; Tries: Barry Daly 6
Preview: Old Belvedere might be sick of the sight of UCD after two recent losses to the students, but they will relish this opportunity to begin the New Year with a bang against the current table toppers.
UCD outscored ‘Belvo by three tries to two (20-12) to ensure they were top of the league tree at Christmas, and followed up by beating the same opposition 23-13 to win their third Leinster Senior League Cup in five years.
Leinster-capped out-half Ross Byrne and winger Tom Fletcher, with four tries in his last five outings, have made key contributions, while ‘Belvo will again look to full-back Daniel Riordan (five tries) to provide a try-scoring spark.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, March 28, 2015: UCD 20 Old Belvedere 23, Belfield; Saturday, December 5, 2015: UCD 20 Old Belvedere 12, Belfield
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: UCD to win
TERENURE COLLEGE (6th) v CORK CONSTITUTION (8th), Lakelands Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Terenure College: LWLWWLWL; Cork Constitution: LDLDWWLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Terenure College: Points: Jake Swaine 30; Tries: James O’Neill, James O’Donoghue, Jake Swaine 2 each; Cork Constitution: Points: Tomas Quinlan 90; Tries: James Murphy, Darren Sweetnam 2 each
Preview: A hugely important fixture for both sides, particularly Cork Constitution who only mustered two wins in their eight games before the Christmas break. Lying eighth in the table, they would love to repeat their 21-7 victory at Lakelands from twelve months ago.
Ever-impressive out-half Tomas Quinlan scored a try and kicked 11 points that day, but Terenure returned the favour with a 20-8 triumph on Leeside in late February. However, the Dubliners’ form of late has been patchy with two victories and two defeats.
Stephen O’Neill and Mark Mahony did make an impact off the bench in ‘Nure’s 28-6 home loss to Young Munster, and a stronger first half effort this time around could ultimately pay dividends for James Blaney’s charges.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 3, 2015: Terenure College 7 Cork Constitution 21, Lakelands Park; Saturday, February 28, 2015: Cork Constitution 8 Terenure College 20, Temple Hill
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Terenure College to win