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All-Ireland League: Division 1A Previews

All-Ireland League: Division 1A Previews

A busy weekend of All-Ireland League action across the top two divisions begins tonight with local bragging rights and hard-earned league points on the line. Dooradoyle will be humming for the meeting of Garryowen and Young Munster, while defending champions Lansdowne chase their fourth win in a row against bottom side Terenure.

ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, November 24

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LANSDOWNE (4th) v TERENURE COLLEGE (10th), Aviva Stadium back pitch, tonight, 7.30pm

All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Lansdowne: LLWWW; Terenure College: LLLWL
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Lansdowne: Points: Harry Byrne 28; Tries: Eamonn Mills 3; Terenure College: Points: Matthew Byrne, James Thornton 15 each; Tries: Matthew Byrne 3

Preview: The Lansdowne juggernaut was gathering some speed before the break in fixtures, with captain Eamonn Mills’ two-try salvo at Young Munster making it three wins on the trot. Last season they did the double over Terenure College who have lost all but one of their games so far.

Scott Deasy and Harry Brennan, who was away with the Ireland Sevens squad, are set to come back into the Lansdowne back-line, with Greg McGrath and Joe O’Brien returning up front and the versatile Willie Earle reverting to the second row.

Terenure head coach James Blaney, whose side have been averaging just 12 points per match, said: “We’re a team in somewhat of a transition. Having said that, we’ve a lot of really good young talent coming up through the ranks and getting opportunities to play. The season has been a struggle so far but we’re hopeful of improving and getting more consistent results.”

Recent League Meetings – Friday, November 24, 2017: Lansdowne 21 Terenure College 13, Aviva Stadium back pitch; Saturday, January 27, 2018: Terenure College 8 Lansdowne 12, Lakelands Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win

GARRYOWEN (8th) v YOUNG MUNSTER (7th), Dooradoyle, tonight, 8pm

All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Garryowen: WWLLL; Young Munster: WLWLL
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Garryowen: Points: Peadar Collins 36; Tries: Liam Cronin 2; Young Munster: Points: Clayton Stewart 46; Tries: Darragh O’Neill 4

Preview: Another big crowd is expected at Dooradoyle for the top flight’s second Limerick derby of the season. Young Munster were well beaten by Shannon (23-10) in the first of them and will not want to give an inch to Garryowen, especially given the clubs’ current positions in the table.

Both sides have struggled for results in the last three rounds, suffering five defeats between them, but Garryowen are boosted tonight by the inclusion of the Munster Academy’s Liam Coombes, who top-scored with 11 tries in Division 1A last season, and Ben Healy in the back-line, and captain Dean Moore also slots back into the second row.

It is hard to judge Young Munster given their up-and-down form, but they do have the division’s joint-top try scorer in Darragh O’Neill (4 tries) and second leading points scorer in out-half Clayton Stewart (46 points). If the Cookies can win the set piece battle, a much-needed victory looks likely here.

Recent League Meetings – Friday, November 10, 2017: Garryowen 6 Young Munster 3, Dooradoyle; Friday, January 5, 2018: Young Munster 25 Garryowen 0, Tom Clifford Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win

DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (5th) v SHANNON (3rd), College Park

All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Dublin University: LDLWW; Shannon: LWWLW
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Dublin University: Points: James Fennelly 53; Tries: Robert Russell, Michael Silvester 3 each; Shannon: Points: Jake Flannery 41; Tries: Nathan Randles, Jake Flannery 2 each

Preview: Dublin University and Shannon have been two of the best teams to watch during the opening five rounds. Out-half James Fennelly, the division’s top scorer with 53 points, has marshalled a potent Trinity back-line which includes Jack Kelly, who is on Leinster’s bench tonight.

The absence too of Michael Silvester sees Liam Turner switch to full-back, while there are six personnel changes from the students’ 25-8 success at Terenure, including the additions of Giuseppe Coyne, Dan Sheehan and Johnny McKeown in the pack.

Shannon make the trip having won three of their last four games, topped off by a Conor Fitzgerald-inspired 31-20 bonus point victory over UCC. Repeating that feat on the road will be tough but head coach Tom Hayes said: “We were in a good place after the first block of games and we want to launch ourselves into this next block as quickly as we can.”

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 5, 2015: Dublin University 36 Shannon 11, College Park; Saturday, January 2, 2016: Shannon 22 Dublin University 25, Thomond Park back pitch

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Shannon to win

UCC (9th) v CLONTARF (1st), the Mardyke

All-Ireland League Season’s Form: UCC: LLLLL; Clontarf: WWWWW
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – UCC: Points: James Taylor 28; Tries: John Poland 4; Clontarf: Points: David Joyce 40; Tries: Mick McGrath 2

Preview: Home losses to Cork Constitution and Terenure by two and one points respectively were UCC’s most frustrating results of the opening block. The Cork students remain without a win but have been very competitive throughout their fixtures.

They will not be daunted by the sight of unbeaten leaders Clontarf who make their second trip of the campaign to Munster. A late Mick McGrath try saw them edge a thrilling contest at Shannon and they had 11 points to spare at home to UCD last time out.

Number 8 Ryan Murphy’s return to full fitness is a big boost for UCC, who also bring in winger Adam O’Connor and forwards Cian Barry and Brian O’Mahony. Two Munster-capped scrum halves are set to clash with John Poland, who has already scored four of UCC’s tries this season, and Clontarf summer signing Angus Lloyd on duty.

Recent League Meetings – N/A

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win

UCD (6th) v CORK CONSTITUTION (2nd), Belfield Bowl

All-Ireland League Season’s Form: UCD: WDLWL; Cork Constitution: WWWLW
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – UCD: Points: Cillian Burke 19; Tries: Ronan Foley 3; Cork Constitution: Points: Aidan Moynihan 35; Tries: JJ O’Neill 4

Preview: Following his side’s 17-6 reversal at the hands of Clontarf, UCD head coach Andy Skehan has made four changes with Rob Keenan and Stephen Murphy selected in the back-line and Bobby Sheehan and Ben Murray starting at hooker and blindside flanker respectively.

The students have been difficult opponents for Cork Con at Belfield, with the Leesiders needing five tries to see them off last March (39-27) and UCD took the spoils, 17-3, when the sides met in the capital in January 2017. Centre Murphy was a try scorer that day.

Constitution have kept up their canny knack of winning games without truly hitting top gear. They came from behind to beat Highfield 22-16 in last week’s Munster Senior Cup semi-final and should have too much grunt up front for the students tomorrow, especially with the lock pairing of Conor Kindregan and Brian Hayes in situ.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, September 30, 2017: Cork Constitution 18 UCD 5, Temple Hill; Saturday, March 24, 2018: UCD 27 Cork Constitution 39, Belfield Bowl

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win