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All-Ireland League: Division 1A Previews

All-Ireland League: Division 1A Previews

Two spicy local derbies launch the action in round 2 of All-Ireland League Division 1A, as Shannon and Young Munster collide at Thomond Park tonight at the same time as UCC host table toppers Cork Constitution at the Mardyke.


Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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SHANNON (10th) v YOUNG MUNSTER (3rd), Thomond Park, tonight, 8pm

All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Shannon: L; Young Munster: W
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Shannon: Points: Ty Chan 5; Tries: Ty Chan 1; Young Munster: Points: Clayton Stewart 17; Tries: Darragh O’Neill 1

Preview: There was no disgrace in Shannon losing 27-7 to Cork Constitution on their return to the top flight, in fact Tom Hayes’ youngsters performed much better than the scoreline suggests. Local bragging rights are on the line tonight when they host Young Munster for the first time in the league since September 2012.

Keith Earls assisted at a Munsters training session earlier in the week, with the Cookies’ back-line looking to fire after scoring just the one try against Terenure. Kiwi signing Clayton Stewart starred with 17 points from the tee in their 22-5 win, and given the expected weather conditions, his reliable right boot could prove invaluable.

A lot will also rest on the shoulders of respective hookers Ty Chan and Billy Scannell, who comes in for his first start, at scrum and lineout time, while Munsters’ new number 8 John Foley, who helped Shannon win the Division 1B title last season, will be a marked man for the Lee Nicholas-led Shannon back row to seek out.

Recent League Meetings – Friday, September 28, 2012: Shannon 3 Young Munster 36, Thomond Park; Saturday, April 13, 2013: Young Munster 18 Shannon 0, Tom Clifford Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win

UCC (7th) v CORK CONSTITUTION (1st), the Mardyke, tonight, 8pm

All-Ireland League Season’s Form: UCC: L; Cork Constitution: W
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – UCC: Points: James Taylor 13; Tries: Ryan Murphy, James Taylor, Cian Barry, John Poland 1 each; Cork Constitution: Points: Niall Kenneally 10 each; Tries: Niall Kenneally 2 each

Preview: The second of the promoted clubs, UCC, get their first taste of Friday Night Lights action in the top flight. UCC have claimed a number of scalps at their historic Mardyke ground in recent seasons and would love to add current table toppers Cork Constitution to that list.

Of course the students’ head coach Brian Walsh has a long association with Cork Con as both a player and coach. It adds another level of intrigue with Walsh coming up against his former coaching colleague at Temple Hill, Brian Hickey, along with a potentially explosive midfield battle between Cian Bohane and Niall Kenneally, the former Munster ‘A’ team-mates.

Kenneally touched down twice in Con’s 20-point victory over Shannon, while impressive UCC out-half James Taylor weighed in with a try and four conversions in their defeat at UCD. UCC were two minute away from beating Con in the Munster Senior Cup last month and they are likely to run Hickey’s men very close again.

Recent League Meetings – N/A

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win

DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (6th) v UCD (2nd), College Park

All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Dublin University: L; UCD: W
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Dublin University: Points: Robert Russell, James Fennelly 10 each; Tries: Robert Russell 2; UCD: Points: Conall Doherty 12; Tries: Sean McNulty, Ronan Foley, Sam Griffin, Stephen McVeigh 1 each

Preview: A second successive college derby for UCD who opened with a 39-28 Dudley Cup-winning performance against UCC. Their well-drilled lineout maul was the springboard for three of their five tries, with Leinster ‘A’ back rower Ronan Foley also chipping in with a classy 40-metre solo score.

Dublin University’s new-look squad have gelled really quickly on evidence of their 27-25 loss at Garryowen. They put it up to the Light Blues in every facet – apart from the scrum – with out-half James Fennelly, who unfortunately missed a late conversion, and new captain Colm Hogan the leading lights.

There are minimal changes to the UCD line-up this week with Cillian Burke coming in at full-back and Brian Cawley added to the second row. It was one win apiece in 2017/18, Trinity triumphing 11-10 most recently to win the Colours in April. However, a mass exodus of players in the summer leaves Tony Smeeth’s side light on experience and that could a telling factor tomorrow.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, September 23, 2017: UCD 36 Dublin University 8, Belfield Bowl; Thursday, April 5, 2018: Dublin University 11 UCD 10, College Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: UCD to win

GARRYOWEN (5th) v LANSDOWNE (8th), Dooradoyle

All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Garryowen: W; Lansdowne: L
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Garryowen: Points: Peadar Collins 12; Tries: Darren Ryan, Jamie Gavin, David McCarthy 1 each; Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 3; Tries:

Preview: Defending champions Lansdowne have ground to make up after an opening night loss to Clontarf which saw them have four players sin-binned. They also have uncharacteristic scrum and lineout issues to iron out, the latter not helped by the late withdrawal of new signing David O’Connor.

The scrummaging duel between former Connacht loosehead Denis Coulson and Garryowen tighthead Andy Keating looks significant in what will be a key area of this game, which will see the Six Nations and Triple Crown trophies on display at Dooradoyle. Centres Peadar Collins (21) and David McCarthy (20) combined for 17 points against Trinity, and Conan Doyle will want more of the same from the young duo.

Previewing the trip to Limerick, Lansdowne supremo Mike Ruddock said: “We only lost two games last season and one of those was down in Garryowen, so we know how tough it’s going to be. They’ll be looking for some revenge after losing to us in the semi-final, so there’s plenty of rivalry there.”

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 3, 2018: Garryowen 24 Lansdowne 16, Dooradoyle: Saturday, April 28, 2018: Semi-final: Lansdowne 36 Garryowen 19, Aviva Stadium main pitch

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win

TERENURE COLLEGE (9th) v CLONTARF (4th), Lakelands Park

All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Terenure College: L; Clontarf: W
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Terenure College: Points: Mark O’Neill 5; Tries: Mark O’Neill 1; Clontarf: Points: David Joyce 11; Tries: Matt D’Arcy, David Joyce 1 each

Preview: Running out in front of a large home crowd comes at just the right time for Terenure who have lost to Lansdowne 42-5 (Leinster Senior League Cup final) and Young Munster 22-5 in the past fortnight. Beaten semi-finalists last season, they face into back-to-back games at Lakelands and a potential momentum-building phase.

However, Clontarf were one of the best performing sides last weekend and look in rude early-season health with their new signings, Michael Courtney and Angus Lloyd in particular, hitting the ground running. Head coach Andy Wood sounded some words of caution, saying ‘it’s only a start’.

Wood will need no reminding that ‘Tarf were pipped 19-18 at Lakelands last February, a tight tussle decided by flanker Harrison Brewer’s 73rd-minute converted try. Terenure are always capable of turning it on at home, but Clontarf, if they can back up their efforts in keeping Lansdowne try-less last week, should stay on the winning trail.

Recent League Meetings – Friday, October 27, 2017: Clontarf 29 Terenure College 17, Castle Avenue; Friday, February 16, 2018: Terenure College 19 Clontarf 18, Lakelands Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win