The top of the table clash between Cork Constitution and UCD is drawing most of the focus as the Energia All-Ireland League Division 1A campaign continues to build momentum as we approach the Christmas break.
ENERGIA ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE DIVISION 1A: Saturday, December 7
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.
BALLYNAHINCH (10th) v YOUNG MUNSTER (6th), Ballymacarn Park
Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Ballynahinch: LLLLWWL; Young Munster: LLLDLWW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Ballynahinch: Points: Sean O’Hagan 52; Tries: Aaron Cairns 5; Young Munster: Points: Evan Cusack 52; Tries: Jordan Stewart, Alan Tynan 2 each
Preview: Brian McLaughlin’s Ballynahinch side are back on home soil after leaking five tries to leaders Cork Constitution. They are not too downbeat though, as a win tomorrow afternoon – their third in four games – could move them off bottom spot, heading towards the festive period.
They are missing Olly Loughead, Aaron Hall and the injured Clive Ross up front, although Ulster Academy lock Jack Regan is set to cover in the back row and brothers Kyle and Zack McCall could feature alongside each other in the front row.
This is Young Munster’s first trip to Ballynahinch in four years. They were 34-29 winners back in October 2015, and with a brace of recent victories behind them, a repeat of their bonus point heroics against Trinity could see the Cookies emerge triumphant again.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 17, 2015: Ballynahinch 29 Young Munster 34, Ballymacarn Park; Saturday, February 20, 2016: Young Munster 7 Ballynahinch 6, Tom Clifford Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Ballynahinch to win
CORK CONSTITUTION (1st) v UCD (2nd), Temple Hill
Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Cork Constitution: WWWWWWW; UCD: LWWDWWW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Cork Constitution: Points: Aidan Moynihan 29; Tries: Greg Higgins, Rob Jermyn 3 each; UCD: Points: David Moran 22; Tries: Jack Ringrose 4
Preview: The division’s two in-form clubs clash on Leeside, table-topping Cork Constitution seeking their eighth straight win and second-placed UCD aiming to extend their unbeaten run to seven games. The students won 27-22 on their last visit to Temple Hill back in February.
Andy Marks starred that day with a brace of tries, and UCD will again carry plenty of threat in the back-three tomorrow with David Ryan and Jack Ringrose both touching down during last week’s Colours success away to UCC.
For their second successive trip to Cork, they are able to add Leinster Academy duo Gavin Mullin and Michael Milne to the starting XV. It may not be enough to derail Constitution who will be out to match the dynamism of last Saturday’s four-try first half salvo.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 24, 2018: UCD 3 Cork Constitution 31, Belfield Bowl; Saturday, February 23, 2019: Cork Constitution 22 UCD 27, Temple Hill
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win
DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (8th) v CLONTARF (7th), College Park
Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Dublin University: LLWWLLL; Clontarf: WLLWLLL
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Dublin University: Points: Micheal O’Kennedy 57; Tries: Colm Hogan 3; Clontarf: Points: Sean Kearns 51; Tries: Tadgh McElroy, Matt D’Arcy, Cian Walsh 2 each
Preview: James Fennelly and Leinster-capped scrum half Rowan Osborne have swapped in at half-back for Dublin University’s crunch clash with Clontarf. Both sides need a pick-me-up result after losing each of their last three league fixtures.
Tight forwards Mark Nicholson and Neilus Mulvihill complete Trinity’s four changes as they look to recapture the form which saw them do the double over ‘Tarf last season. They won last January’s corresponding game 29-21 thanks to an 80th-minute Niall O’Riordan try.
For their latest Dublin derby, Clontarf will certainly pack a punch up front with Tadgh McElroy, Jack Aungier and Tom Byrne coming in as starters. Top scorer Sean Kearns is a notable absentee in a back-three which sees Jack Power move to full-back and Seni Reilly Ashiru slot in on the right wing.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 8, 2018: Clontarf 12 Dublin University 16, Castle Avenue; Saturday, January 26, 2019: Dublin University 29 Clontarf 21, College Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win
GARRYOWEN (3rd) v UCC (5th), Dooradoyle
Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Garryowen: LWLWWWW; UCC: WWWLLLL
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Garryowen: Points: Jamie Heuston 42; Tries: Tommy O’Hora, Bryan Fitzgerald 3 each; UCC: Points: Matt Bowen, James Taylor, John Poland 20 each; Tries: Matt Bowen 4
Preview: The combination of injuries and loss of form has seen former leaders UCC fall to four defeats on the trot. In contrast, Conan Doyle’s Garryowen charges have won four on the bounce to pass the students out and take up residence in third place.
Liam Cronin and Clonakilty product Cian Hurley are the two changes in personnel, while Munster Academy winger Liam Coombes will certainly be a marked man after his brace of tries away to Terenure College. Hurley starts at number 8 with Tim Ferguson reverting to the second row.
UCC welcome back James Taylor, last season’s Division 1A Rising Star award winner, who pairs up with Brian Slater at half-back. Forwards James French, Tadgh McCarthy and Daire Feeney are also promoted from the bench. There is a start too for young lock Richard Thompson, a former Munster Schools Senior Cup winner with CBC Cork, alongside Taylor and Feeney.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 15, 2018: UCC 12 Garryowen 14, the Mardyke; Saturday, January 19, 2019: Garryowen 22 UCC 23, Dooradoyle
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Garryowen to win
LANSDOWNE (9th) v TERENURE COLLEGE (4th), Aviva Stadium back pitch
Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Lansdowne: WLLLLLW; Terenure College: WWWLWLL
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Lansdowne: Points: Tim Foley 35; Tries: Adam Leavu, Adam Boland 3 each; Terenure College: Points: Mark O’Neill 26; Tries: Sam Dardis 4
Preview: A first outing for Mark McHugh as Lansdowne’s interim head coach, following a move for the long-serving Mike Ruddock to the Ospreys. McHugh is ably assisted by backs coach Scott Deasy and Australian Ben Armstrong who is looking after the forwards.
Last week’s 23-19 victory at Clontarf was a massive result for the headquarters club who are set to field an unchanged team – apart from try-scoring replacement Mark Hernan’s inclusion at openside flanker. He replaces Joey Szpara in the back row.
Terenure have suffered back-to-back losses but their strong start to the season has kept them in the play-off positions. Having scored three tries in as many games, Sam Dardis’ wing duel with Peter Sullivan, last season’s top try scorer, could have a key influence on this game’s outcome.
Recent League Meetings – Friday, November 23, 2018: Lansdowne 41 Terenure College 12, Aviva Stadium back pitch; Saturday, February 23, 2019: Terenure College 35 Lansdowne 26, Lakelands Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win