There are some brilliant match-ups again in Division 1A of the Ulster Bank League this Saturday, with three Dublin derbies in the capital and Cork Constitution and Young Munster clashing in a repeat of last April’s semi-final.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, September 24
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
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CLONTARF (5th) v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (8th), Castle Avenue
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Clontarf: W; St. Mary’s College: L
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Clontarf: Points: Rob Keogh 17; Tries: Rob McGrath 1; St. Mary’s College: Points: Sean Kearns 16; Tries: Sean Kearns 1
Preview: These two sides finished their opening games strongly last week, three closing penalties from Rob Keogh seeing Clontarf edge out UCD and Sean Kearns’ 16-point haul earned St. Mary’s a losing bonus point against Cork Constitution.
‘Tarf have some adjustments this week with Leinster lock Mick Kearney and injured Connacht prop Ivan Soroka (foot) both absent. The students outscored them by two tries to one, so Andy Wood will want a lot more from his back-line.
Mary’s have had an injury-disrupted start to the season. It will be interesting to see what difference Leinster’s Hayden Triggs can make as forwards coach and if they can create more scoring opportunities for Ireland Sevens flyer Terry Kennedy.
Recent League Meetings – Friday, January 2, 2015: Clontarf 44 St. Mary’s College 15, Castle Avenue; Friday, February 27, 2015: St. Mary’s College 21 Clontarf 17, Templeville Road
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win
CORK CONSTITUTION (4th) v YOUNG MUNSTER (6th), Temple Hill
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Cork Constitution: W; Young Munster: L
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Cork Constitution: Points: Rob Jermyn, Liam O’Connell, Niall Kenneally, Tomas Quinlan 5 each; Tries: Rob Jermyn, Liam O’Connell, Niall Kenneally 1 each; Young Munster: Points: Paul Downes 15; Tries: Dan Walsh 2
Preview: Cork Con played in fits and starts against St. Mary’s but eventually got the job done. Two second half yellow cards did not help and Brian Hickey will want improved discipline from his charges in their first home outing.
Of course, this is a repeat of last April’s Division 1A semi-final which Con edged 22-16. Two late tries, including one from current captain and in-form centre Niall Kenneally, proved all important back then.
Former Con flanker Dan Walsh had a fine debut for Munsters last week, scoring a brace in their epic 36-35 defeat to Old Belvedere. Gearoid Lyons’ place-kicking paved the way for a narrow regular season win at Temple Hill last January, and Paul Downes will need to be just as accurate if the Cookies are to repeat that feat.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 30, 2016: Cork Constitution 17 Young Munster 18, Temple Hill; Saturday, April 23, 2016: Semi-final: Cork Constitution 22 Young Munster 16, Temple Hill
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win
DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (3rd) v UCD (7th), College Park
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Dublin University: W; UCD: L
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Dublin University: Points: Jack McDermott 10; Tries: Paddy Finlay, Michael Courtney, Evan Dixon 1 each; UCD: Points: Cillian Burke 10; Tries: Stephen Murphy, Greg Jones 2 each
Preview: UCD will be kicking themselves after leaking some ‘costly’ match-deciding penalties to Clontarf in the closing stages. No better way to bounce back than against fierce rivals Trinity in this hotly-anticipated student derby.
UCD director of rugby Bobby Byrne expects a ‘tight and unpredictable game’, and there is likely to be little in it, especially if the hosts can build on their encouraging round 1 victory away to Terenure College.
UCD are dotted with Leinster Academy gems – Andrew Porter and James Ryan are potential stars of the future – but Trinity have some very talented players too. Watch out for skillful out-half Jack McDermott and versatile forward Pierce Dargan, who played US PRO Rugby for Ohio in recent months.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 17, 2012: Dublin University 36 UCD 14, College Park; Friday, February 22, 2013: UCD 17 Dublin University 10, Belfield Bowl
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: UCD to win
LANSDOWNE (1st) v TERENURE COLLEGE (9th), Aviva Stadium main pitch
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Lansdowne: W; Terenure College: L
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 12; Tries: Daniel McEvoy 2; Terenure College: Points: Jake Swaine 7; Tries: Jake Swaine 1
Preview: Former champions Lansdowne set out their stall with a bonus point win at Garryowen and their front row of Leinster’s Peter Dooley, ex London Scottish hooker Tyrone Moran and captain Ian Prendiville was in dominant scrum form.
New signings John O’Donnell and Alan Bennie have joined their Ireland Sevens skipper Tom Daly in a high quality Lansdowne back-line, one which Terenure will do well to stymie on the Aviva Stadium’s main pitch.
Despite Kevin O’Neill’s red card, ‘Nure will draw encouragement from their battling display against Trinity and they will need no reminding of the scoreline when they last met Mike Ruddock’s men – a stunning five-try 32-3 triumph at Lakelands last March.
Recent League Meetings – Friday, September 25, 2015: Lansdowne 24 Terenure College 10, Aviva Stadium back pitch; Saturday, March 5, 2016: Terenure College 32 Lansdowne 3, Lakelands Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win
OLD BELVEDERE (2nd) v GARRYOWEN (10th), Anglesea Road
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Old Belvedere: W; Garryowen: L
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Old Belvedere: Points: Willie Staunton 16; Tries: Daniel Riordan, Shane McDonald 2 each; Garryowen: Points: Neil Cronin 10; Tries: Hugh O’Brien-Cunningham, Johnny Keane, David Johnston 1 each
Preview: Garryowen won 28-13 in the corresponding fixture last season, but the scoreline is likely to be reversed if Old Belvedere continue their impressive early season form.
They are hunting a second successive Limerick scalp after coming away from Young Munster with a thrilling 36-35 win. Former professional Daniel Riordan is already up and running with two tries, a tally matched by busy right winger Shane McDonald.
The Light Blues, who have lost Conor Oliver and Alex Wootton to the Munster bench, need to tighten up their defence and discipline, although their final quarter against Lansdowne was much improved. Notably, they will come up against three former Garryowen players in the ‘Belvo pack – front rowers Ed Rossiter and Declan Lavery and recent signing, number 8 Dave Sherry.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 7, 2015: Old Belvedere 13 Garryowen 28, Anglesea Road; Saturday, January 30, 2016: Garryowen 27 Old Belvedere 14, Dooradoyle
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Old Belvedere to win