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All-Ireland League: Division 1A Previews

All-Ireland League: Division 1A Previews

Centre Robbie Deegan is a key man for Shannon as they look to overcome Cork Constitution on the final day of Division 1A's regular season ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

The main focus in Division 1A is on relegation matters with the top four already confirmed, albeit with Lansdowne and Clontarf going head-to-head for a home semi-final. The bottom five teams are still under threat, Shannon’s hopes of stopping their slide straight back to Division 1B resting on a win over table-toppers Cork Constitution and other results.


Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

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DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (4th) v GARRYOWEN (5th), College Park

All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Dublin University: LDLWWWLWLLWWWWLWW; Garryowen: WWLLLWWWWLWWLLWLL
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Dublin University: Points: James Fennelly 110; Tries: Giuseppe Coyne, Rob Russell 5 each; Garryowen: Points: Peadar Collins 71; Tries: Diarmuid Barron 7

Preview: Dublin University are hoping their dream-like season did not peak with last week’s Colours win at Belfield, a result which confirmed their first ever Division 1A semi-final. Their resources are stretched tomorrow with captain Colm Hogan sidelined, some key men away with Leinster ‘A’, and Trinity Under-20s in a Fraser McMullen Cup semi-final.

This is a dead rubber as Garryowen cannot catch the students, and next Saturday’s Bateman Cup final against City of Armagh is now their big focus. Injuries have hampered them, particularly in the front row, but Andy Keating and Sean Rennison are back to bolster the pack and backs Tommy O’Hora and Ben Swindlehurst complete the four changes from last week.

Lansdowne are the only away team to triumph at College Park in the league this season, and Trinity will be doing their best to sign off at home with just that one blemish. They are boosted by Michael Silvester’s return at full-back, while Cian Crotty, Donal Liddy, James Fennelly, Joe Horan and Bart Vermeulen are also handed starts.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 10, 2018: Garryowen 52 Dublin University 20, Dooradoyle; Saturday, October 6, 2018: Garryowen 27 Dublin University 25, Dooradoyle

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Dublin University to win

LANSDOWNE (2nd) v CLONTARF (3rd), Aviva Stadium back pitch

All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Lansdowne: LLWWWWWWWWLWLWLWW; Clontarf: WWWWWWLLWWLLWWWWL
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 109; Tries: Peter Sullivan 14; Clontarf: Points: David Joyce 105; Tries: Matt D’Arcy 8

Preview: Centre Conor Murphy, scrum half James Kenny and number 8 Willie Fay have been promoted from the bench to start Lansdowne’s final home game of the regular season. They reclaimed second spot last week and aim to stay ahead of Clontarf in this head-to-head clash for a home semi-final.

‘Tarf’s late defeat to Terenure College have left them three points behind Lansdowne entering the final round. They lost 38-8 on their most recent visit to the Aviva Stadium’s back pitch, but did beat Mike Ruddock’s men 16-3 at Castle Avenue in October when centre Matt D’Arcy scored the first of his eight tries so far this season.

These are two of the best tight fives on the club scene, Lansdowne’s front row showing their scoring threat with Martin Mulhall and former captain Ian Prendiville both touching down against Garryowen, while hooker Paddy Finlay is edging closer to his rampaging best just in time for Clontarf’s tilt at a third league title.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 6, 2018: Lansdowne 38 Clontarf 8, Aviva Stadium back pitch; Friday, October 5, 2018: Clontarf 16 Lansdowne 3, Castle Avenue

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win

SHANNON (10th) v CORK CONSTITUTION (1st), Thomond Park back pitch

All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Shannon: LWWLWLLLWWLLLLLLL; Cork Constitution: WWWLWWWWWWWWLWWLW
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Shannon: Points: Jake Flannery 69; Tries: Jake Flannery, Eathon Moloney, Pa Ryan, Nathan Randles 4 each; Cork Constitution: Points: Aidan Moynihan 142; Tries: JJ O’Neill 7

Preview: Can Shannon pull off a last-day escape or will last year’s Division 1B champions slide back to the second tier? Tom Hayes’ young side have fallen four points adrift at the bottom and will likely need the full five against table toppers Cork Constitution in order to avoid automatic relegation.

The second half of the season has been very unforgiving on Shannon who have won only seven points since Christmas. They will face a Cork Con team missing provincial call-ups Shane Daly, Ross O’Neill, Sean French and Alex McHenry, the latter scoring two tries in his last two outings for the Leesiders.

This is the first time Shannon have hosted Con in the league in six years, a time when current Under-20 Grand Slam winners Jake Flannery and Craig Casey were both just 13. They could really do with one or both of the Ireland U-20 pair tomorrow as they find a spark that has been missing from their attack of late.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, March 2, 2013: Shannon 45 Cork Constitution 26, Coonagh; Saturday, October 6, 2018: Cork Constitution 27 Shannon 7, Temple Hill

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win

TERENURE COLLEGE (9th) v YOUNG MUNSTER (6th), Lakelands Park

All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Terenure College: LLLWLLLLLLWLWLWWW; Young Munster: WLWLLLDLLLLLWLWLW
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Terenure College: Points: James Thornton 87; Tries: Matthew Byrne 8; Young Munster: Points: Shane Airey 59; Tries: Darragh O’Neill 5

Preview: The first of two showdowns between relegation-threatened clubs in the top flight tomorrow. Home advantage could prove vital for Terenure as they target a fifth win in six matches and hope it is enough to finish outside of the bottom two. If their season ends here, this is James Blaney’s final match after seven years as ‘Nure’s head coach.

James Thornton landed a priceless late penalty against Clontarf last Saturday, while former Leinster winger Sam Coghlan Murray has now bagged three tries in two games. Notably, four of Young Munster’s five tries against Shannon were scored by forwards and they will be hoping for more of the same at Lakelands.

That 33-7 derby success was a huge result for the Cookies, with head coach Gearoid Prendergast saying: “Games like this you’ve got to do the basics right, get your fundamentals right and that was the message all week. I felt we did that and in fairness to the forwards, they gave us an unbelievable platform to play from.”

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 9, 2017: Young Munster 15 Terenure College 5, Tom Clifford Park; Saturday, October 6, 2018: Young Munster 22 Terenure College 5, Tom Clifford Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Terenure College to win

UCC (8th) v UCD (7th), the Mardyke

All-Ireland League Top Scorers – UCC: Points: James Taylor 145; Tries: Ryan Murphy 7; UCD: Points: Conall Doherty 71; Tries: Andy Marks 7

Preview: UCC are in the more precarious position of these two College sides, sitting level with second-from-bottom Terenure on 31 points. UCD are three points better off but make the trip to Cork on the back of four successive losses, including their disappointing 18-12 Colours defeat at home to Trinity.

Looking to avenge October’s 39-28 reversal at the hands of UCD, UCC boss Brian Walsh has made three changes to the side that went down 37-19 to Cork Con. He brings in Adam O’Connor on the left wing and restores captain Daire Feeney and Cian Fitzgerald to a back row which is anchored by Ireland Under-20 international John Hodnett.

Hooker Bobby Sheehan is the only personnel change made by UCD who will again have Leinster’s Nick McCarthy starting at scrum half. Centre Paul Kiernan, who previously captained UCC, will certainly be a marked man on his return to the familiar surroundings of the Mardyke.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 28, 2012: UCC 11 UCD 13, the Mardyke; Saturday, October 6, 2018: UCD 39 UCC 28, Belfield Bowl

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: UCC to win