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All-Ireland League: Division 1A Previews

All-Ireland League: Division 1A Previews

The Friday Night Lights derby action keeps coming in Division 1A as leaders Clontarf entertain UCD, who are brimming with confidence after winning at Garryowen, and Dublin University look for further inspiration from full-back Michael Silvester on their trip to bottom side Terenure.


Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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CLONTARF (1st) v UCD (3rd), Castle Avenue, tonight, 8pm

All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Clontarf: WWWW; UCD: WDLW
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Clontarf: Points: David Joyce 38; Tries: Mick McGrath 2; UCD: Points: Cillian Burke 19; Tries: Ronan Foley 3

Preview: Former Trinity hooker Paddy Finlay comes in to make his league debut for Clontarf tonight. Interestingly, it is the only personnel change head coach Andy Wood has made to a very settled pack over the entire first five rounds.

There is a familiar look to the UCD forwards too, with Stephen McVeigh’s inclusion at number 8 the only alteration up front from their impressive 31-19 triumph at Garryowen. Behind the scrum, Leinster’s Nick McCarthy is set to don the number 9 jersey and Oisin O’Meara slots on in the left wing.

Clontarf did the double over UCD last season, but they were tight enough margins, and a close encounter could be in the offing again, especially if the students’ pack can provide quality ball for McCarthy. However, ‘Tarf’s composure in closing out the result against Shannon six days ago suggests their winning run will continue.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 4, 2017: UCD 24 Clontarf 31, Belfield Bowl; Saturday, February 3, 2018: Clontarf 19 UCD 8, Castle Avenue

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win

TERENURE COLLEGE (10th) v DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (7th), Lakelands Park, tonight, 8pm

All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Terenure College: LLLW; Dublin University: LDLW
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Terenure College: Points: Matthew Byrne 15; Tries: Matthew Byrne 3; Dublin University: Points: James Fennelly 43; Tries: Robert Russell, Michael Silvester 3 each

Preview: Terenure College boss James Blaney has handed three forwards their first league starts, with prop Karl O’Brien, lock Matthew Caffrey and flanker Rory Murray all drafted in. Have ‘Nure turned a corner after last week’s hard-fought 18-17 win at UCC?

Hooker Robbie Smyth and Sam Coghlan Murray take the personnel changes up to five, and the latter’s battle with opposing full-back Michael Silvester is certainly a mouth-watering prospect. Captain Colm Hogan and hat-trick hero Silvester ensured that Trinity opened their win account against Young Munster (37-26).

Jack Kelly, who captained Leinster ‘A’ to an inaugural Celtic Cup title, returns for the students at outside centre. Scrum half Conor Lowndes and forwards Joe Horan and Jack Dunne are the other three changes. Tony Smeeth wants his players to cut down on a ‘disappointing’ penalty count while maintaining their clinical edge in attack.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, September 16, 2017: Dublin University 0 Terenure College 24, College Park; Saturday, April 14, 2018: Terenure College 50 Dublin University 12, Lakelands Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Dublin University to win

CORK CONSTITUTION (2nd) v GARRYOWEN (8th), Temple Hill

All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Cork Constitution: WWWL; Garryowen: WWLL
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Cork Constitution: Points: Aidan Moynihan 23; Tries: JJ O’Neill, Niall Kenneally 3 each; Garryowen: Points: Peadar Collins 33; Tries: Liam Cronin 2

Preview: Ronan O’Mahony’s long-awaited return from an ankle injury gave Garryowen a timely boost last week, albeit that the result against UCD did not go their way. Sidelined for Munster since last February, O’Mahony will start tomorrow’s provincial derby at full-back.

Academy players Mikey Wilson (Connacht) and Jack Daly (Munster) feature in the Light Blues’ back row. A tough assignment awaits them with Cork Constitution looking to bounce back from a 35-27 defeat away to defending champions Lansdowne.

Captain Niall Kenneally’s third try of the campaign secured a late bonus point for Con, and head coach Brian Hickey wants a big performance from his battle-hardened troops. “Lansdowne was a step up in terms of intensity, defence, physicality,” he said. “Con and Garryowen has a life of its own, this will be a huge one and then there’s a little bit of a breather (a two-week break in fixtures).”

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 2, 2017: Garryowen 24 Cork Constitution 17, Dooradoyle; Saturday, December 9, 2017: Cork Constitution 37 Garryowen 11, Temple Hill

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win

SHANNON (4th) v UCC (9th), Thomond Park back pitch

All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Shannon: LWWL; UCC: LLLL
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Shannon: Points: Jake Flannery 41; Tries: Nathan Randles, Jake Flannery 2 each; UCC: Points: James Taylor 23; Tries: Murray Linn 3

Preview: Frustrating finishes last week for both Shannon and UCC saw them lose leads late on. They know each other well from their Division 1B clashes last season, with Tom Hayes’ side having fond memories of lifting the title after their 40-17 final round victory over the students.

Shannon’s teenage out-half Jake Flannery really announced himself with a 17-point haul against current leaders Clontarf last Saturday. Ireland Under-20 centre Peter Sylvester’s sidestepping try was the highlight of UCC’s display against Terenure, but they have lineout and defensive issues to tidy up.

Shannon head coach Hayes told SRTV: “UCC have stepped their game up a little bit, like we have. You’ve got two teams that are operating fairly well in the division – UCC have been very close to getting their first win. They certainly have a bit of calibre coming at us.”

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, September 16, 2017: UCC 16 Shannon 20, the Mardyke; Saturday, April 14, 2018: Shannon 40 UCC 17, Thomond Park back pitch

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Shannon to win

YOUNG MUNSTER (6th) v LANSDOWNE (5th), Tom Clifford Park

All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Young Munster: WLWL; Lansdowne: LLWW
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Young Munster: Points: Clayton Stewart 46; Tries: Darragh O’Neill 3; Lansdowne: Points: Harry Byrne 20; Tries: Daniel McEvoy, Harry Byrne 2 each

Preview: Two home wins and two away defeats so far for Young Munster, who have had summer signings Clayton Stewart (46 points) and Darragh O’Neill (3 tries) in fine scoring form. However, their defence needs to be much sharper with an average of 26 points conceded in the last three rounds.

Stewart’s opposite number Harry Byrne had a stunning debut for Lansdowne, scoring 20 points against Cork Con despite not training with his new team-mates last week. Tom Roche and Peter Sullivan are added to the back-line for the Greenfields encounter, while Joe O’Brien and Jack O’Sullivan come into the back row.

The Cookies pride themselves on their home record and last April’s 27-24 loss to Lansdowne led to them missing out on the play-offs. They had won the sides’ six previous top flight meetings at Tom Clifford Park since 2011, showing how tough it has been for Mike Ruddock to get a win there.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, September 23, 2017: Lansdowne 25 Young Munster 5, Aviva Stadium main pitch; Saturday, April 7, 2018: Young Munster 24 Lansdowne 27, Tom Clifford Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win