Three of Saturday’s four fixtures in Energia All-Ireland League Division 1B are in Leinster, with Ollie Campbell Park the venue for the meeting of fourth-placed Old Belvedere and Chris Henry’s equally-ambitious Malone outfit.
ENERGIA ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE DIVISION 1B: Saturday, November 16
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
#EnergiaAILTry Of The Month has returned for the 2019/20 season. The competition is in its third year and entries are now open to tries scored in all divisions of the Men’s and Women’s Energia All-Ireland League. Click here for entry information.
CITY OF ARMAGH (5th) v OLD WESLEY (2nd), Palace Grounds
Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: City of Armagh: WWLWL; Old Wesley: WWWW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – City of Armagh: Points: Cormac Fox 40; Tries: Andrew Willis 3; Old Wesley: Points: Rory Stynes 36; Tries: Conor Barry 2
Preview: City of Armagh and Old Wesley meet for the first time since the final day of last season. Back then Wesley triumphed 31-10 in Donnybrook on the way to challenging UCC for a spot in the top flight.
The Dubliners were idle last Saturday, their game against Navan being postponed. Head coach Morgan Lennon has named the same starting XV which includes the attack-minded centre pairing of David Poff and James O’Donovan.
Ever-reliable Armagh out-half Cormac Fox has reached 40 points already, putting his third on the top scorers’ list. They will need both him and the pack on top form in order to protect their proud home record.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 6, 2018: City of Armagh 17 Old Wesley 22, Palace Grounds; Saturday, April 13, 2019: Old Wesley 31 City of Armagh 10, Energia Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: City of Armagh to win
NAAS (9th) v SHANNON (3rd), Forenaughts
Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Naas: LLLLL; Shannon: LWWLW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Naas: Points: Peter Osborne 17; Tries: Fionn Higgins 3; Shannon: Points: Pa Ryan 25; Tries: Pa Ryan 5
Preview: Contrasting fortunes for these two clubs last weekend, with Naas finishing 10 points behind Banbridge and Shannon running four tries past City of Armagh to climb up to third in the Division 1B table.
The Cobras last hosted Shannon at Forenaughts two years ago, picking up a hard-fought 21-18 victory during which Fionn Higgins touch down twice. Shannon centre Pa Ryan also scored a try that day – he has five for the current season already.
Shannon head coach Tadhg Bennett commented: “Having played well against Armagh, getting another two wins (back-to-back) would be massive for us, but we know it’s going to be a very, very hard test at Forenaughts.”
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 11, 2017: Naas 21 Shannon 18, Forenaughts; Saturday, January 6, 2018: Shannon 25 Naas 3, Thomond Park back pitch
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Shannon to win
NAVAN (10th) v HIGHFIELD (1st), Balreask Old (match conceded by Navan – walkover win for Highfield (28-0, five points))
OLD BELVEDERE (4th) v MALONE (6th), Ollie Campbell Park
Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Old Belvedere: WWWLL; Malone: LLWWL
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Old Belvedere: Points: Steve Crosbie 59; Tries: James McKeown, Jack Keating 3 each; Malone: Points: Callum Smith 25; Tries: Ross Todd, Peter Cooper, Angus Kernohan 2 each
Preview: Old Belvedere head coach Andy Kenny has made three personnel changes to the side that lost 14-10 at leaders Highfield. Tom Molony slots in at outside centre and Ryan McMahon and Colin Mallon are introduced up front.
Having slipped to fourth place due to successive defeats, ‘Belvo will be fiercely determined to sign off on the first six rounds with a timely win. Malone make the trip south with the very same aim after going down 13-8 at home to St. Mary’s.
Malone boss Chris Henry is boosted by the return of David Busby to the full-back position, while talented young forwards Peter Cooper and Conor McMenamin step up from the bench. Ryan Clarke switches from the second row to number 8.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 27, 2018: Malone 39 Old Belvedere 8, Gibson Park; Saturday, March 9, 2019: Old Belvedere 15 Malone 12, Anglesea Road
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Old Belvedere to win
ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (8th) v BANBRIDGE (7th), Templeville Road
Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: St. Mary’s College: WLLLW; Banbridge: LLLWW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – St. Mary’s College: Points: Ruairi Shields 33; Tries: Hugo Conway 3; Banbridge: Points: Adam Doherty 29; Tries: Stevie Irvine, Neil Kilpatrick, Greg Jones, Ryan Hughes 2 each
Preview: Ulster opposition again for St. Mary’s following on from last Saturday’s 13-8 success away to Malone. Head coach Steve Hennessy has stuck with the same winning formula in selecting an unchanged side.
Banbridge have won back-to-back home games, so the task is now to take that form with them on the road. Centre Ross Cartmill, winger John Porter and prop Stuart Cromie are the three alterations this week.
There is also an intriguing match-up at scrum half where Mary’s starlet Cormac Foley, who was part of last season’s Ireland Under-20 Grand Slam-winning squad, faces off against former Ireland U-20 international and Ulster-capped half-back Jonny Stewart.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 8, 2018: St. Mary’s College 28 Banbridge 7, Templeville Road; Saturday, January 26, 2019: Banbridge 18 St. Mary’s College 16, Rifle Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: St. Mary’s College to win