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Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Previews

Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Previews

The semi-final line-up in Division 1A of the Ulster Bank League will be confirmed on Saturday afternoon, with six clubs entering the final round with hopes of reaching the play-offs. Lansdowne are already assured of a home semi-final, while there is a lot riding on the result of Clontarf v Cork Constitution at Castle Avenue.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, April 14

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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This season sees the introduction of the #UBLTry of the Month award with a prize of 250 euro for each monthly winner and entry into the Try of the Year award.

CLONTARF (5th) v CORK CONSTITUTION (2nd), Castle Avenue

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Clontarf: LWLWWWLWWWLLWLWLW; Cork Constitution: WLWLLWWWLWWLWLWWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Clontarf: Points: David Joyce 96; Tries: Matt D’Arcy 8; Cork Constitution: Points: Tomas Quinlan 147; Tries: Rob Jermyn 6

Preview: Even a bonus point win over the defending champions may not be enough for Clontarf to qualify for the semi-finals. Garryowen are one point ahead of them in fourth place and have a healthier scoring difference.

Second-placed Cork Constitution, who have edged ahead of Terenure College in the battle for the second home semi-final, are hoping to end the regular season with a fourth successive win.

Brian Hickey’s men were 30-18 winners over Clontarf in September’s opening round. Second rows Brian Hayes and Conor Kindregan continue to impress, scoring three tries between them in the last three rounds. Out-half Tomas Quinlan, last year’s final hero, is also hitting form, averaging 16 points per game since early March.

Recent League Meetings – Sunday, May 7, 2017: Final – Clontarf 21 Cork Constitution 25, Aviva Stadium; Saturday, September 16, 2017: Cork Constitution 30 Clontarf 18, Temple Hill

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win

GARRYOWEN (4th) v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (9th), Dooradoyle

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Garryowen: LWWLWLWWWLLWWWLWW; St. Mary’s College: WLLWLLLLLWLWLLLLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Garryowen: Points: Neil Cronin 160; Tries: Liam Coombes 8; St. Mary’s College: Points: Sean Kearns 92; Tries: Tim Maupin, Dave Fanagan 4 each

Preview: If things stay as they are, Garryowen will be travelling to table toppers Lansdowne in two weeks’ time for their first league semi-final appearance since 2009.

Easier said than done, but the Light Blues will fancy their chances of defeating second-from-bottom St. Mary’s College tomorrow, confirming a fourth-place finish and lifting the Shay Deering trophy in the process. That would neatly cap off a week in which Garryowen captain Neil Cronin has earned a Munster contract for next season.

Mary’s top-flight status will hinge on the upcoming play-offs against Division 1B opposition. Injuries have hampered them of late, but players like David Aspil, Cathal O’Flaherty and David O’Connor, who continue to set the standard up front, ensure that the Dubliners bring a competitive edge every time they take to the field.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 11, 2017: St. Mary’s College 27 Garryowen 7, Templeville Road; Saturday, September 16, 2017: St. Mary’s College

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Garryowen to win

LANSDOWNE (1st) v BUCCANEERS (10th), Aviva Stadium main pitch

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Lansdowne: WWWWWWWWWWWWLWLWW; Buccaneers: LLLLLLLWWLLLLLLLL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 196; Tries: Mark O’Keefe 9; Buccaneers: Points: Luke Carty 77; Tries: Rory O’Connor 7

Preview: Buccaneers’ brave fight against relegation is over, but they will want to sign off in Division 1A with a performance to be proud of at the national stadium. In fit-again winger Jordan Conroy, they have the ideal player to take advantage of the pitch’s open expanses.

Lansdowne have done the hard work in securing top spot and a home semi-final in two weeks’ time. They will aim to use this top-versus-bottom clash as a springboard into next Saturday’s Ulster Bateman Cup final trip to Cork Constitution and then the league play-offs.

Mike Ruddock’s men are 11 points away from breaking the 500-point mark for the 18-match campaign, while ever-influential out-half Scott Deasy, who is the division’s top scorer with 196 points, could go close to breaking Craig Ronaldson’s Division 1A regular season record of 211 points.

Recent League Meeting – Saturday, September 16, 2017: Buccaneers 10 Lansdowne 19, Dubarry Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win

TERENURE COLLEGE (3rd) v DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (8th), Lakelands Park

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Terenure College: WWWWLWLLWLWLWWWWL; Dublin University: LLLWWLWWLLWLLWWLW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Terenure College: Points: Mark O’Neill 108; Tries: Jake Swaine 8; Dublin University: Points: Jack McDermott 57; Tries: Michael Silvester 7

Preview: Terenure College were disappointed to lose at Cork Constitution last week but two hard-earned bonus points – sparked by a three-try second half performance – have guaranteed their semi-final place.

They could yet host that semi at Lakelands Park as victory here over Dublin University, coupled with a Cork Con defeat at Clontarf, would slot James Blaney’s charges back into second spot. ‘Nure’s eight-try winger Jake Swaine is now joint-second in the try scoring charts, behind Lansdowne’s Mark O’Keefe (9).

Despite the euphoria of regaining the Colours trophy and ensuring their Division 1A safety, it is very much business as usual for Trinity this week, with their Under-20s also taking on Lansdowne for a place in the Fraser McMullen Cup final.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, April 15, 2017: Dublin University 27 Terenure College 25, College Park; Saturday, September 16, 2017: Dublin University 0 Terenure College 24, College Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Terenure College to win

UCD (7th) v YOUNG MUNSTER (6th), Belfield Bowl

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: UCD: WWLLLLWLLLLWLLWLL; Young Munster: LLWLWWLLLWWWWWLWL
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – UCD: Points: Harry Byrne 49; Tries: Jamie Glynn, Stephen McVeigh 4 each; Young Munster: Points: Alan Tynan 58; Tries: Ger Slattery 6

Preview: Like Trinity, UCD also have a busy Saturday on the cards as their Under-20 side head across the river Liffey for a Fraser McMullen Cup semi-final against Clontarf this evening.

College are out of relegation trouble but will be frustrated with their tally of just five victories, the first which was away to Young Munster (39-20) on the opening day. UCD’s Ireland Under-20 scrum half Patrick Patterson is gunning for his third try in as many games.

Sixth-placed Munsters still have a slim chance of making the play-offs, hoping for maximum points at Belfield and that Garryowen and Clontarf falter elsewhere. If they don’t, the Cookies can still look back on a very encouraging campaign, during which a number of young players found their feet at senior level.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, March 4, 2017: UCD 20 Young Munster 13, Belfield Bowl; Saturday, September 16, 2017: Young Munster 20 UCD 39, Tom Clifford Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win