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All-Ireland League: Division 1A Previews

All-Ireland League: Division 1A Previews

Cork Constitution winger Rob Jermyn is pictured on his way to scoring a try against UCD at Belfield in November ©INPHO/Oisin Keniry

The penultimate Limerick derby of Division 1A’s regular season kicks off another jam-packed weekend of All-Ireland League rugby. Fourth-placed Garryowen head to Greenfields looking to complete a season’s double over struggling Young Munster.

ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, February 23

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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YOUNG MUNSTER (9th) v GARRYOWEN (4th), Tom Clifford Park, tonight, 8pm

All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Young Munster: WLWLLLDLLLLL; Garryowen: WWLLLWWWWLWW
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Young Munster: Points: Clayton Stewart 49; Tries: Darragh O’Neill 5; Garryowen: Points: Ben Healy 54; Tries: Diarmuid Barron 7

Preview: Young Munster want the ‘Greenfields factor’ in full effect for the visit of local rivals Garryowen. It is now nine rounds since the Cookies last tasted victory in the league, that run including narrow recent losses to Clontarf and UCD.

They did come away from Belfield with two bonus points last Saturday, both hard-earned given their defensive and disciplinary issues. Garryowen won a similarly tight game against Terenure College, while their teenage out-half Ben Healy – a possible Ireland Under-20 debutant tonight – kicked 22 points in their 32-26 home win over Munsters in November.

The Light Blues will be wary of a wounded Cookies side who are scrapping for every point. However, if seven-try youngster Diarmuid Barron continues to excel up front and Munster flyer Alex Wootton features again, the visitors should take the spoils.

Recent League Meetings – Friday, January 5, 2018: Young Munster 25 Garryowen 0, Tom Clifford Park; Friday, November 23, 2018: Garryowen 32 Young Munster 26, Dooradoyle

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Garryowen to win

CLONTARF (3rd) v UCC (8th), Castle Avenue

All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Clontarf: WWWWWWLLWWLL; UCC: LLLLLLWLLWWL
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Clontarf: Points: David Joyce 70; Tries: Matt D’Arcy 5; UCC: Points: James Taylor 97; Tries: Ryan Murphy 6

Preview: Clontarf’s hopes of a home semi-final have been hit by back-to-back defeats to Dublin University and Cork Constitution. They return to Castle Avenue determined to make up for a below-par first half against Con which left them playing catch-up.

Their five personnel changes tomorrow see the back-line bolstered by the ex-Trinity trio of Michael Courtney, Ariel Robles and Angus Lloyd, while there are also starts for Royce Burke-Flynn and Cormac Daly in the tight five.

Since losing 37-22 to ‘Tarf at the Mardyke, UCC have won three of their last six games to move out of the bottom two. They welcome back Lee McSherry and Ryan Murphy into the back row, with the latter aiming to add to his impressive six tries so far.

Recent League Meeting – Saturday, November 24, 2018: UCC 22 Clontarf 37, the Mardyke

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win

CORK CONSTITUTION (1st) v UCD (6th), Temple Hill

All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Cork Constitution: WWWLWWWWWWWW; UCD: WDLWLLDWLLLW
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Cork Constitution: Points: Aidan Moynihan 96; Tries: JJ O’Neill 7; UCD: Points: Conall Doherty 35; Tries: Andy Marks 5

Preview: Cork Constitution’s bonus point dismissal of Clontarf was further evidence of their dynamic form, with a match average of 31 points scored since the turn of the year. Over the first two-thirds of the season they have conceded just under 12 points per round.

UCD were on the end of a 28-point beating by Brian Hickey’s men in November, but have shown signs of their potential with victories over Terenure College and Young Munster since then. Full-back Conall Doherty starred with 18 points against Munsters last week.

Centre Stephen Murphy, prop Sam Griffin and lock Brian Cawley have been added to the students’ starting XV for their trip to Leeside. It looks a very tough ask, especially with Con winger JJ O’Neill chasing his fourth try in three outings.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, March 24, 2018: UCD 27 Cork Constitution 39, Belfield Bowl; Saturday, November 24, 2018: UCD 3 Cork Constitution 31, Belfield Bowl

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win

SHANNON (7th) v DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (5th), Thomond Park back pitch

All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Shannon: LWWLWLLLWWLL; Dublin University: LDLWWWLWLLWW
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Shannon: Points: Jake Flannery 69; Tries: Jake Flannery 4; Dublin University: Points: James Fennelly 94; Tries: Colm Hogan, Giuseppe Coyne 4 each

Preview: Shannon host Dublin University for the first time in three years, seeking a full 80-minute performance after lapsing at crucial stages in their back-to-back losses to Garryowen and Lansdowne which have moved them down to seventh.

Trinity have gone in the opposite direction, last week’s bonus point success against UCC keeping them in touch with the top four. They are getting scores from all quarters, as evidenced their top try scorers, full-back and captain Colm Hogan and prop Giuseppe Coyne with four each.

Hooker Joe Horan is the only change to the students’ starting line-up for tomorrow. It should be quite a battle between the second rows with Shannon’s likely pairing of Ronan Coffey and skipper Jade Kriel facing Arthur Greene and Ryan Baird.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 2, 2016: Shannon 22 Dublin University 25, Thomond Park back pitch; Saturday, November 24, 2018: Dublin University 31 Shannon 19, College Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Dublin University to win

TERENURE COLLEGE (10th) v LANSDOWNE (2nd), Lakelands Park

All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Terenure College: LLLWLLLLLLWL; Lansdowne: LLWWWWWWWWLW
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Terenure College: Points: James Thornton 49; Tries: Matthew Byrne 6; Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 64; Tries: Daniel McEvoy, Peter Sullivan 7 each

Preview: Terenure were a missed drop goal away from claiming a priceless five points at Garryowen last Saturday. It was another positive performance, nonetheless, and they have scored 11 tries in their last two games – including three from winger Sam Dardis.

For their trip to the division’s bottom side, Lansdowne are set to field an unchanged team from last week’s 43-15 triumph over Shannon. Peter Sullivan is another young winger in terrific form with five tries in the last three rounds.

‘Nure have certainly raised their game since losing 41-12 to Lansdowne in November. However, it is difficult to see them containing their Dublin rivals’ firepower in the rematch. Shannon managed to do so for 40 minutes but were blown way in the second half.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 27, 2018: Terenure College 8 Lansdowne 12, Lakelands Park; Friday, November 23, 2018: Lansdowne 41 Terenure College 12, Aviva Stadium back pitch

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win