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All-Ireland League: Division 1A Previews

All-Ireland League: Division 1A Previews

Two Cork Constitution jumpers put pressure on Lansdowne lock Oisin Dowling at a lineout during the sides' October meeting ©INPHO/Oisin Keniry

There is a huge amount riding on the results of all five Division 1A matches on Saturday, with the semi-final line-up still to be sorted out and bottom side Terenure College hoping to draw closer to the three Munster clubs above them.


Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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CLONTARF (3rd) v SHANNON (7th), Castle Avenue

All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Clontarf: WWWWWWLLWWLLWW; Shannon: LWWLWLLLWWLLLL
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Clontarf: Points: David Joyce 85; Tries: Matt D’Arcy 7; Shannon: Points: Jake Flannery 69; Tries: Jake Flannery, Eathon Moloney, Pa Ryan 4 each

Preview: Clontarf look to be rediscovering their early season form, although it did take a 17-point first half deficit at UCD to bring the best out of them. They host Shannon for the first time in a league fixture since 2013’s 32-17 home win which included a try from current Leinster and Ireland star Tadhg Furlong.

Two of Belvedere College’s Schools Cup stars of recent seasons, James McKeown and Ruadhan Byron, step up as ‘Tarf’s only changes to the side that won 26-17 at Belfield. Shannon were held tryless by UCC and really need a big performance on the back of four successive defeats.

Tom Hayes’ young side are now only four points above the relegation zone and will be targeting a strong start in the capital, looking to create opportunities for consistently impressive backs Pa Ryan and Eathon Moloney who have both scored three tries in their last seven Division 1A matches.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 16, 2013: Clontarf 32 Shannon 17, Castle Avenue; Saturday, October 27, 2018: Shannon 17 Clontarf 22, Thomond Park back pitch

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win

CORK CONSTITUTION (1st) v LANSDOWNE (2nd), Temple Hill

All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Cork Constitution: WWWLWWWWWWWWLW; Lansdowne: LLWWWWWWWWLWLW
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Cork Constitution: Points: Aidan Moynihan 108; Tries: JJ O’Neill 7; Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 78; Tries: Peter Sullivan 9

Preview: A repeat of last season’s final and a possible dress rehearsal for May’s decider given the clubs’ current positions and play-off rugby prowess. Cork Constitution enter the final four rounds with an eight-point lead over Lansdowne, who have Clontarf nipping at their heels in the race for a home semi-final.

Willie Earle, who reverts to the second row, will make his 143rd All-Ireland League appearance for Lansdowne, breaking Enda Bohan’s club record. Another former captain, Ian Prendiville, switches to hooker with Greg McGrath coming in at tighthead and there are also starts for Tim Murphy, Aaron Conneely and Joe O’Brien.

Sean French’s selection for the Ireland Under-20s robs Cork Con of their best attacking weapon during the past fortnight, with the teenager scoring five tries. The table toppers are looking to make it one-all after losing 35-27 to Lansdowne in October, a cracking contest which produced nine tries on the all-weather pitch.

Recent League Meetings – Sunday, May 6, 2018: Final: Lansdowne 19 Cork Constitution 17, Aviva Stadium; Saturday, October 27, 2018: Lansdowne 35 Cork Constitution 27, Aviva Stadium back pitch

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win

TERENURE COLLEGE (10th) v UCC (8th), Lakelands Park

All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Terenure College: LLLWLLLLLLWLWL; UCC: LLLLLLWLLWWLLW
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Terenure College: Points: James Thornton 61; Tries: Matthew Byrne 6; UCC: Points: James Taylor 116; Tries: Ryan Murphy 7

Preview: Terenure College, who have five points to make up on second-from-bottom Young Munster, welcome back Leinster Academy tighthead Jack Aungier for their penultimate home game. He replaces Tiarnan Creagh in the only change to the team that narrowly lost to Dublin University.

‘Nure won by the minimum margin when they visited UCC in October, a six-try 18-17 shootout being decided by out-half James Thornton’s 75th-minute penalty. The Cork students have won four of their ten league matches since then, aided by young number 10 James Taylor’s division-leading haul of 116 points.

There is a swap at hooker as Harry Jephson makes way for Paidi McCarthy in the UCC front row, while out wide Michael Clune and Matt Bowen will be on the prowl for more tries, the former chasing his fourth try in five games and Bowen, a 2018 Munster Schools Senior Cup finalist with CBC Cork, scoring against Lansdowne and Shannon.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, April 13, 2013: Terenure College 33 UCC 19, Lakelands Park; Saturday, October 27, 2018: UCC 17 Terenure College 18, the Mardyke

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Terenure College to win

UCD (6th) v GARRYOWEN (5th), Belfield Bowl

All-Ireland League Season’s Form: UCD: WDLWLLDWLLLWWL; Garryowen: WWLLLWWWWLWWLL
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – UCD: Points: Conall Doherty 44; Tries: Andy Marks 7; Garryowen: Points: Peadar Collins 64; Tries: Diarmuid Barron 7

Preview: Sam Griffin, Cian Prendergast and Cillian Burke are all promoted from the bench as UCD make three personnel changes for the visit of Garryowen. Griffin replaces the injured Michael Milne at loosehead prop, while Burke slots in on the left wing with Andy Marks (seven tries) reverting to the centre.

Leinster Academy scrum half Paddy Patterson, who crossed twice against Clontarf, gets another run-out. Garryowen will have to keep a close eye on him and also tighten up their defence in the wide channels after they leaked three tries in the corner against leaders Cork Con.

A first win in three rounds would be a timely result for the Limerick men who have had goal-kicking centre Peadar Collins as their only scorer these last two weeks. Garryowen want to widen the gap between themselves and sixth-placed UCD, and also erase the four points that currently separate them from fourth-placed Trinity.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 17, 2018: UCD 0 Garryowen 17, Belfield Bowl; Saturday, October 27, 2018: Garryowen 19 UCD 31, Dooradoyle

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Garryowen to win

YOUNG MUNSTER (9th) v DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (4th), Tom Clifford Park

All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Young Munster: WLWLLLDLLLLLWL; Dublin University: LDLWWWLWLLWWWW
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Young Munster: Points: Clayton Stewart 49; Tries: Darragh O’Neill 5; Dublin University: Points: James Fennelly 97; Tries: Colm Hogan, Giuseppe Coyne 4 each

Preview: Dublin University can expect a red-hot reception from Young Munster who are desperate to end a run of five defeats to the students since 2016/17. The relegation-threatened Cookies are playing much better of late, running in four tries against Lansdowne with Shane Airey’s cross-field kicks setting up two.

Trinity have won four on the bounce, including a 27-24 triumph at Shannon on their last visit to Limerick. Rob Russell’s absence due to Ireland Under-20 duty sees captain Colm Hogan switch to the right wing with James Fennelly, the scorer of last week’s decisive late penalty against Terenure, featuring at full-back this time.

Another bruising battle awaits recent Leinster debutant Jack Dunne with Munsters having Tom Goggin and captain Alan Kennedy in their engine room. Keynan Knox, the Munster Academy’s teenage tighthead, could feature again for the hosts, coming up against Ireland U-20 squad member Giuseppe Coyne at scrum time.

Recent League Meetings – Monday, March 19, 2018: Dublin University 21 Young Munster 19, College Park; Saturday, October 27, 2018: Dublin University 37 Young Munster 26, College Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win