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Energia All-Ireland League: Division 1A Previews

Energia All-Ireland League: Division 1A Previews

Sean French and Keelan Stephenson compete for a high ball during the recent Munster Senior Cup final between Cork Constitution and Young Munster ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Energia All-Ireland League Division 1A resumes following the Christmas break, with all ten clubs refreshed and hungry to make early headway through January’s two rounds of fixtures.

ENERGIA ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE DIVISION 1A: Saturday, January 11

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 CLONTARF (4th), Ballymacarn Park

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Ballynahinch: LLLLWWLLL; Clontarf: WLLWLLLWW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Ballynahinch: Points: Sean O’Hagan 67; Tries: Aaron Cairns, Ross Adair 5 each; Clontarf: Points: Sean Kearns 68; Tries: Matt D’Arcy, Jack Power 3 each

Preview: Ballynahinch closed out 2019 with three straight defeats, falling back to the top flight’s bottom rung. They have a chance to avenge their most recent loss – a 47-21 reversal – when fourth-placed Clontarf make the return trip north tomorrow afternoon.

Two of the division’s top three scorers are set to duel it out at Ballymacarn Park, as ‘Hinch out-half Sean O’Hagan has amassed 67 points so far and versatile ‘Tarf back Sean Kearns is a single point ahead of him, following an impressive 17-point salvo during the sides’ December meeting.

Look out for the in-form Ross Adair who has bagged four tries in his last three games and is an ever-potent runner in the ‘Hinch attack. So too is opposing full-back Jack Power, who had spells in the Leinster and Munster Academies. He is chasing his third try in as many matches.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, March 5, 2016: Ballynahinch 13 Clontarf 31, Ballymacarn Park; Saturday, December 14, 2019: Clontarf 47 Ballynahinch 21, Castle Avenue

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Ballynahinch to win

CORK CONSTITUTION (1st) v YOUNG MUNSTER (7th), Temple Hill

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Cork Constitution: WWWWWWWWW; Young Munster: LLLDLWWWL
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Cork Constitution: Points: Aidan Moynihan, Jack Crowley 29 each; Tries: Rob Jermyn 5; Young Munster: Points: Evan Cusack 73; Tries: Jordan Stewart, Evan Cusack 3 each

Preview: Table toppers Cork Constitution and Young Munster meet for the third time in the space of a month. The Leesiders edged the league clash 16-15 at Greenfields, with crucial tries in each half from key winger Rob Jermyn and captain Niall Kenneally.

Jermyn has hit a rich vein of form with five tries in his last three games, while fellow winger Barry Galvin notched a hat-trick in last week’s Bateman Cup semi-final win in Sligo. Brian Hickey’s men entered 2020 as newly-crowned Munster Senior Cup champions having defeated the Cookies 21-10 before Christmas.

Con rarely lose at Temple Hill, but a fired-up Young Munster know they ran them close in those last two fixtures. Out-half Evan Cusack is vital to their chances of an upset, having scored 10 points in that Tom Clifford Park tie and ended the calendar year with three tries in his last five league appearances.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 26, 2019: Young Munster 5 Cork Constitution 31, Tom Clifford Park; Saturday, December 14, 2019: Young Munster 15 Cork Constitution 16, Tom Clifford Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win

DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (9th) v TERENURE COLLEGE (5th), College Park

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Dublin University: LLWWLLLLL; Terenure College: WWWLWLLLW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Dublin University: Points: Micheal O’Kennedy 57; Tries: Colm Hogan 3; Terenure College: Points: Mark O’Neill 30; Tries: Sam Dardis 5

Preview: It was a busy festive period for Dublin University with a number of their players involved in the Ireland Under-20s’ warm-up fixtures and a training camp for the Ireland Club XV. The focus now shifts back to club matters and getting out of relegation trouble.

Terenure College had the students’ number in mid-December, a strong second half showing seeing them to a 34-20 bonus point victory. That snapped a three-match losing run for Sean Skehan’s charges, who have benefited from Sam Dardis’ clutch of four tries in the last five rounds.

Trinity won last season’s corresponding encounter 10-7 at College Park, and will need an improved scrummaging display in order to repeat that result. They lost impressive Ireland Under-20 prop Thomas Clarkson to the sin-bin in the last round, and the set piece will be an important battleground once again.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, March 2, 2019: Dublin University 10 Terenure College 7, College Park; Saturday, December 14, 2019: Terenure College 34 Dublin University 20, Lakelands Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Dublin University to win

GARRYOWEN (2nd) v UCD (3rd), Dooradoyle

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Garryowen: LWLWWWWWL; UCD: LWWDWWWLW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Garryowen: Points: Jamie Heuston 49; Tries: Bryan Fitzgerald 4; UCD: Points: James Tarrant 31; Tries: Ronan Foley 5

Preview: With six wins and a draw, it was a very encouraging first half of the season for UCD under new head coach Kevin Croke. They came from 16 points down to pip Garryowen 25-24 last time out – back rower Ronan Foley completed a superb second half hat-trick in the final play.

They will need Foley’s heroics, ably assisted by Paddy Patterson’s cameo off the bench, and more in order to complete the double over the Light Blues. Garryowen are unbeaten at home in the league since last March and have already overcome the likes of Lansdowne and Clontarf this term.

Conan Doyle’s young side have scored four tries in each of their last three matches – including a trio of scores from Under-20 talent Colm Quilligan – and a positive outcome tomorrow would keep them on the right road towards a home semi-final.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, March 9, 2019: UCD 14 Garryowen 24, Belfield Bowl; Saturday, December 14, 2019: UCD 25 Garryowen 24, Belfield Bowl

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Garryowen to win

LANSDOWNE (6th) v UCC (8th), Aviva Stadium back pitch

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Lansdowne: WLLLLLWWW; UCC: WWWLLLLLL
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Lansdowne: Points: Tim Foley 40; Tries: Adam Leavy, Adam Boland, Peter Sullivan 3 each; UCC: Points: Eoin Monahan 26; Tries: Matt Bowen, Murray Linn 4 each

Preview: It was a titanic tussle when these teams meet a month ago on Leeside. Carving out Lansdowne’s third win on the bounce, Peter Hastie’s cross-field kick was tapped back by Mark O’Keeffe to set up replacement full-back Tim Foley for the match-winning right at the death.

Determined to bounce back from their sixth successive defeat, UCC have made some eye-catching changes, including the selection of Munster Academy back rower John Hodnett at inside centre. Louis Kahn, Rob O’Donovan and Jack O’Sullivan also feature in the starting XV this week.

Lansdowne have strengthened their back-line with former Connacht player Craig Ronaldson pairing up with Harry Brennan in the centre. Conall Doherty moves to full-back and Dan Sheehan, the Bateman Cup semi-final hat-trick hero against Armagh, and Mark Hernan also get the nod up front.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 26, 2019: UCC 25 Lansdowne 22, the Mardyke; Saturday, December 14, 2019: UCC 14 Lansdowne 15, the Mardyke

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win