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Energia All-Ireland League: Division 1A Previews

Energia All-Ireland League: Division 1A Previews

Unbeaten leaders Cork Constitution are now seven points clear at the top of Energia All-Ireland League Division 1A ©INPHO/Tommy Grealy

Division 1A’s top four clubs face off as the Energia All-Ireland League campaign reaches its halfway stage. Unbeaten leaders Cork Constitution visit provincial rivals Young Munster, while Kevin Croke’s UCD side are looking to bounce back at home to Garryowen.

ENERGIA ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE DIVISION 1A: Saturday, December 14

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.

CLONTARF (5th) v BALLYNAHINCH (10th), Castle Avenue

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Clontarf: WLLWLLLW; Ballynahinch: LLLLWWLL
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Clontarf: Points: Sean Kearns 51; Tries: Tadgh McElroy, Matt D’Arcy, Cian Walsh, Jack Power, Seni Reilly Ashiru 2 each; Ballynahinch: Points: Sean O’Hagan 56; Tries: Aaron Cairns 5

Preview: Rebounding from three defeats in a row, Clontarf’s attack was back at full power in their five-try victory at Dublin University. Outside backs Jack Power and Seni Reilly Ashiru crossed for their second tries of the season during the free-scoring contest.

‘Tarf’s ninth round visitors, Ballynahinch, are a wounded animal after losing their grip on a seemingly unassailable lead against Young Munster. They have slid back down to bottom spot but are not panicking with fifth-placed ‘Tarf only five points better off at present.

‘Hinch hooker Zack McCall, a try scorer against the Cookies, told Irish Rugby TV: “We can’t afford to compound our errors. If we can iron that out, we’ll do okay because we have the attack there that can be really hot at times. It’s just about putting all the pieces of the puzzle together.”

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, September 26, 2015: Clontarf 38 Ballynahinch 17, Castle Avenue; Saturday, Match 5, 2016: Ballynahinch 13 Clontarf 31, Ballymacarn Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win

TERENURE COLLEGE (7th) v DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (9th), Lakelands Park

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Terenure College: WWWLWLLL; Dublin University: LLWWLLLL
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Terenure College: Points: Mark O’Neill 26; Tries: Sam Dardis 4; Dublin University: Points: Micheal O’Kennedy 57; Tries: Colm Hogan 3

Preview: The winter has not be kind to Terenure College and Dublin University so far, with seven defeats between them in the last four rounds. Trinity did the double over Terenure last season but they are yet to recapture that sort of form.

Worryingly, these teams have been coughing up big scores to opponents, with the students conceding 105 points in their last three matches and ‘Nure leaking 103. So, stopping that flow of points would go a long way to steadying the ship for both.

Reacting to their 42-32 loss to Clontarf, Trinity supremo Tony Smeeth makes six personnel changes. Colm Hogan covers the absence of Leinster ‘A’ call-up Michael Silvester at full-back, while Liam McMahon, Tomas Killeen, Donnacha Mescal, Joe McCarthy, Alan Francis and Anthony Ryan are all drafted in.

Recent League Meetings – Friday, November 2, 2018: Terenure College 8 Dublin University 25, Lakelands Park; Saturday, March 2, 2019: Dublin University 10 Terenure College 7, College Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Terenure College to win

UCC (8th) v LANSDOWNE (6th), the Mardyke

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: UCC: WWWLLLLL; Lansdowne: WLLLLLWW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – UCC: Points: James Taylor, John Poland, Matt Bowen, Murray Linn 20 each; Tries: Matt Bowen, Murray Linn 4 each; Lansdowne: Points: Tim Foley 35; Tries: Adam Leavy, Adam Boland, Peter Sullivan 3 each

Preview: UCC and Lansdowne have the same tally of three wins and five defeats so far, but the momentum is very much with the headquarters club. They hammered Terenure College 46-17 as Mark McHugh’s reign as interim head coach got off to a flying start.

However, with injuries and provincial commitments hampering their selection this week, Lansdowne need some of their extended squad to step up. There are starts tomorrow for Conall Doherty, the former UCD goal-kicker, Cillian Redmond, Conor Gleeson and Darragh Murphy.

Scoring points has been a problem for UCC in recent rounds, and freshly-introduced full-back Eoin Monahan and centre Louis Bruce are hoping to get the best out of the back-line. Crosshaven youngster Bryan O’Connor, who resumes in the front row, is the final change.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 8, 2018: Lansdowne 31 UCC 15, Aviva Stadium back pitch; Saturday, January 26, 2019: UCC 25 Lansdowne 22, the Mardyke

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win

UCD (3rd) v GARRYOWEN (2nd), Belfield Bowl

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: UCD: LWWDWWWL; Garryowen: LWLWWWWW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – UCD: Points: James Tarrant 26; Tries: Jack Ringrose 4; Garryowen: Points: Jamie Heuston 45; Tries: Tommy O’Hora, Bryan Fitzgerald 3 each

Preview: The scheduling of tonight’s ‘A’ interprovincial match between Leinster and Munster comes at a bad time for these two clubs. Especially UCD given that they are aiming to right the wrongs of their 43-point thrashing by Cork Constitution last Saturday, which included Gavin Mullin’s first half red card.

The students’ provisional starting XV includes five personnel changes, with Rob Keenan and Nick Peters starting behind the scrum, and Stephen McVeigh, Emmet Burns and Rory Mulvihill all added to the Jonny Guy-led pack.

Jack Delaney and Liam Coombes are on Munster ‘A’ duty, so Garryowen will field a changed back-line from last week’s 25-10 success against UCC. Winger Colm Quilligan, who came through Crescent College Comprehensive alongside Delaney, is chasing his third try in as many games for the Light Blues.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 27, 2018: Garryowen 19 UCD 31, Dooradoyle; Saturday, March 9, 2019: UCD 14 Garryowen 24, Belfield Bowl

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Garryowen to win

YOUNG MUNSTER (4th) v CORK CONSTITUTION (1st), Tom Clifford Park

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Young Munster: LLLDLWWW; Cork Constitution: WWWWWWWW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Young Munster: Points: Evan Cusack 63; Tries: Jordan Stewart 3; Cork Constitution: Points: Aidan Moynihan 29; Tries: Brian Hayes, Rob Jermyn 4 each

Preview: Another sizable hurdle for Cork Constitution to clear, travelling to Greenfields to take on a buoyant Young Munster side that has won three on the bounce. While pleased with their progress, Con know they are becoming more of a scalp with each passing week.

Streetwise second row Brian Hayes continues to set high standards for the defending champions, bagging a brace against UCD to take his season’s haul to four tries. At the same time, Munsters staged a remarkable 19-point comeback to floor Ballynahinch up in Co. Down.

Out-half Evan Cusack’s stunning sidestepping try from his own half saw the Cookies prevail, with captain Conor Mitchell saying: “That result meant a lot, it’s given us massive belief. The kind of rugby we played in the second half was unbelievable. It’s awesome to see that we can play that kind of rugby.”

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 8, 2018: Cork Constitution 26 Young Munster 3, Temple Hill; Saturday, January 26, 2019: Young Munster 5 Cork Constitution 31, Tom Clifford Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win