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All-Ireland League: Division 1A Previews

All-Ireland League: Division 1A Previews

A repeat of last season’s final is one of a number of crunch encounters in Division 1A tomorrow, as defending champions Lansdowne host current leaders Cork Constitution. The meeting of resurgent Shannon and second-placed Clontarf is also a mouth-watering prospect.


Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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SHANNON (3rd) v CLONTARF (2nd), Thomond Park back pitch, 2pm

All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Shannon: LWW; Clontarf: WWW
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Shannon: Points: Jake Flannery 24; Tries: Nathan Randles 2; Clontarf: Points: David Joyce 33; Tries: Matt D’Arcy, David Joyce, Michael Noone, Ivan Soroka, Angus Lloyd, Mick McGrath, Declan Adamson, Conor Jennings 1 each

Preview: Shannon return home following their thunderous six-try win over Terenure College, but Clontarf look an altogether more difficult prospect. The north Dubliners are chasing an early-season Limerick double after defeating Garryowen 28-10.

It was nip-and-tuck in that game until Clontarf broke clear with three second half tries, and it will be interesting to see how Mick McGrath and company get on in the tight confines of Thomond Park’s back pitch. The addition of Munster’s Ciaran Parker, Eoghan Clarke and Cronan Gleeson has strengthened the Shannon front row.

This is ‘Tarf’s first trip to play Shannon in almost six years, the most recent meeting at Coonagh in January 2013 seeing winger McGrath touch down twice in a 20-14 win. Current Shannon backs coach David O’Donovan was on the opposite wing that day, and the visitors’ bench included one Tadhg Furlong.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 26, 2013: Shannon 14 Clontarf 20, Coonagh; Saturday, February 16, 2013: Clontarf 32 Shannon 17, Castle Avenue

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win


All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Dublin University: LDL; Young Munster: WLW
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Dublin University: Points: James Fennelly 26; Tries: Robert Russell 3; Young Munster: Points: Clayton Stewart 35; Tries: Darragh O’Neill, Clayton Stewart, Colm Skehan, Dan Walsh, Evan O’Gorman 1 each

Preview: Dublin University’s hunt for their first win goes on after losing 24-13 at Cork Constitution. They are boosted this week by Leinster Academy talent Michael Silvester who returns at full-back following the province’s Celtic Cup title success.

Liam Turner and Dan Sheehan are promoted from the bench and Philip Murphy slots back in at inside centre for the students. Injury rules out Young Munster tighthead Colm Skehan, so Gavin Ryan comes in at loosehead and Conor Bartley switches sides in the front row.

The Cookies, who were well beaten by Shannon, could end the league’s first month with three wins out of four. Jason Kiely and Luke Fitzgerald are the only changes behind the scrum for the Limerick men who have lost four times to Trinity in the last two seasons, including a 21-19 nail-biter in the capital in March.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 7, 2017: Young Munster 17 Dublin University 21, Tom Clifford Park; Monday, March 19, 2018: Dublin University 21 Young Munster 19, College Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win

GARRYOWEN (5th) v UCD (6th), Dooradoyle

All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Garryowen: WWL; UCD: WDL
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Garryowen: Points: Peadar Collins 29; Tries: Darren Ryan, Jamie Gavin, David McCarthy, Liam Cronin, Sean Rennison, Peadar Collins 1 each; UCD: Points: Cillian Burke 19; Tries: Ronan Foley 2 each

Preview: Out-half Jamie Gavin returns from a spell on the sidelines and captain Dean Moore is also back in the starting XV for Garryowen’s fourth round encounter with UCD, who lie a point behind them. Moore’s inclusion sees Tim Ferguson revert to the back row.

Both the Light Blues and UCD are aiming to bounce back from defeat, with the students held try-less at home by Lansdowne last weekend. Head coach Andy Skehan has reacted by making four personnel changes and two positional switches for the trip to Limerick.

Conall Doherty, former captain Stephen Murphy and Nick Peters have been brought into the UCD back-line, with Cillian Burke moving to the right wing and Andy Marks switching to the left. Jonny Guy swaps in for Stephen McVeigh at blindside flanker.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 28, 2017: Garryowen 27 UCD 20, Dooradoyle; Saturday, February 17, 2018: UCD 0 Garryowen 17, Belfield Bowl

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Garryowen to win

LANSDOWNE (7th) v CORK CONSTITUTION (1st), Aviva Stadium back pitch

All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Lansdowne: LLW; Cork Constitution: WWW
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 19; Tries: Tyrone Moran, Eamonn Mills, Daniel McEvoy 1 each; Cork Constitution: Points: Aidan Moynihan 16; Tries: JJ O’Neill 3

Preview: This is undoubtedly the match of the day in the top flight as the reigning champions and current leaders meet for the first time since last May’s final. Lansdowne overcame Cork Constitution 19-17 that day, aided by hooker Tyrone Moran’s 61st-minute try.

This is Lansdowne’s first outing on the newly-laid back pitch at the Aviva Stadium following three away trips. Ross Byrne’s younger brother Harry will make his league debut for the headquarters club, filling in for Scott Deasy in the number 10 shirt.

Former skipper Ian Prendiville and locks Oisin Dowling and Jack Dwan are the incoming players up front, while Cork Con, who are three from three, are expected to name a settled side. The wing battle between their top scorer JJ O’Neill (3 tries) and Ireland Sevens international Adam Leavy should be one to savour.

Recent League Meetings – Sunday, March 11, 2018: Cork Constitution 25 Lansdowne 13, Temple Hill; Sunday, May 6, 2018: Final: Lansdowne 19 Cork Constitution 17, Aviva Stadium

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win

UCC (9th) v TERENURE COLLEGE (10th), the Mardyke

All-Ireland League Season’s Form: UCC: LLL; Terenure College: LLL
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – UCC: Points: James Taylor 3; Tries: John Poland, Murray Linn 2 each; Terenure College: Points: Matthew Byrne 10; Tries: Matthew Byrne 2

Preview: Highly-rated back rower John Hodnett, who has been playing for Munster ‘A’ of late, will start at number 8 for UCC tomorrow afternoon. He is one of four personnel changes to the side that went down fighting against Young Munster in round 3.

Full-back Rob Hedderman, hooker Paidi McCarthy and blindside Cian Barry are also brought in by head coach Brian Walsh, who moves Cian Bohane back to outside centre. Lying in the bottom two, UCC and Terenure are both gunning for their first win of the campaign.

It was April 2013 when Terenure last met UCC when the clubs were in Division 2A, and a certain Darren Sweetnam was at full-back for the students. ‘Nure need to bounce back quickly from that heavy defeat to Shannon and will look to Sam Coghlan Murray, captain Michael Melia and the O’Neill brothers, Stephen, Mark and Kevin, to lead by example.

Recent League Meeting – Saturday, April 13, 2013: Terenure College 33 UCC 19, Lakelands Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: UCC to win