Tonight’s Dublin derby between Clontarf and Lansdowne leads off another intriguing weekend of action in Division 1A of the Energia Men’s All-Ireland League.
ENERGIA MEN’S ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE – DIVISION 1A:
ROUND 5: Saturday, November 6
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
CLONTARF (2nd) v LANSDOWNE (4th), Castle Avenue, tonight, 8pm
Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Clontarf: WWWW; Lansdowne: WWWL
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Clontarf: Points: David Hawkshaw 34; Tries: Dylan Donnellan 5; Lansdowne: Points: Charlie Tector 30; Tries: Cormac Foley 3
Preview: Ben Griffin and Fionn Gilbert are both promoted from the Clontarf bench, covering the absence this week of hard-hitting Leinster forwards Vakh Abdaladze and Brian Deeny in the tight five.
They are the two enforced changes made to the ‘Tarf team that came from behind to beat Terenure College. In contrast, Lansdowne are able to bring provincial duo Cormac Foley and Peter Dooley into their starting XV.
The pair were try-scoring replacements in the 24-20 loss to Young Munster. Connacht recruit Peter McGrath packs down at tighthead prop, while Stephen Madigan and ex-UCD back Andy Marks also come into the visitors’ back-line.
Recent League Meetings – Friday, November 29, 2019: Clontarf 19 Lansdowne 23, Castle Avenue; Friday, February 14, 2020: Lansdowne 29 Clontarf 28, Aviva Stadium back pitch
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win
DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (6th) v TERENURE COLLEGE (7th), Lakelands Park
Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Dublin University: LWWL; Terenure College: WLLL
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Dublin University: Points: Mick O’Kennedy 26; Tries: Mark Nicholson 2; Terenure College: Points: James Thornton 20; Tries: Stephen O’Neill, Craig Adams, Peter Sylvester, Alan Bennie 2 each
Preview: Long-serving out-half Mark O’Neill returns to the Terenure College line-up, beginning an incredible 16th season of All-Ireland League rugby. He partners Alan Bennie at half-back for the trip to College Park.
The absence of ‘Nure captain Stephen O’Neill, Mark’s brother, is covered by Colm de Buitléar who switches to outside centre. Sean Skehan’s side lost 13-6 when they last visited Dublin University in early 2020.
Trinity went toe-to-toe with Cork Con for much of last week’s bruising battle. The availability again of Jack Dunne, who got 80 minutes on Leeside, Rob Russell and Ulster Academy youngster Harry Sheridan would be a big boost.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 14, 2019: Terenure College 34 Dublin University 20, Lakelands Park; Saturday, January 11, 2020: Dublin University 13 Terenure College 6, College Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Terenure College to win
UCC (10th) v YOUNG MUNSTER (3rd), the Mardyke
Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: UCC: LLLL; Young Munster: WWWW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – UCC: Points: Matthew Bowen 22; Tries: Matthew Bowen 4; Young Munster: Points: Evan Cusack 44; Tries: Conor Hayes 6
Preview: Munster flyer Calvin Nash is on the bench for Young Munster’s fifth round clash with bottom side UCC. Conor Hayes, the hat-trick hero against Lansdowne, switches to full-back to cover Patrick Campbell’s absence.
Munster Academy lock Eoin O’Connor gets a start up front, Shay McCarthy returns to the Cookies’ back-three, and Conor Bartley swaps in for Colm Skehan on the tighthead side of the scrum.
UCC have been something of the bogey team for Munsters, winning their last two meetings. It is difficult to see them making it a hat-trick, even if the likes of Jack O’Sullivan, John Hodnett or Alex Kendellen feature in the back row.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, March 23, 2019: UCC 13 Young Munster 10, the Mardyke; Saturday, October 19, 2019: Young Munster 14 UCC 20, Tom Clifford Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win
UCD (8th) v BALLYNAHINCH (9th), Belfield Bowl
Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: UCD: LLLW; Ballynahinch: LLLL
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – UCD: Points: James Tarrant 25; Tries: David Heavey, Paddy Patterson 2 each; Ballynahinch: Points: Greg Hutley 22; Tries: Chris Gibson, Greg Hutley, Marcus Rea, Aaron Cairns, James Simpson 1 each
Preview: It is a second successive home game for UCD who, having beaten intervarsity rivals UCC 40-31, are set to give a run-out to Leinster’s Josh Murphy, a notable inclusion on the students’ bench for tomorrow.
Murphy will get some game-time after recently returning from a calf injury. There are a couple of team changes, Alec Byrne coming in at blindside flanker with Diarmuid Mangan switching to the engine room.
Judging by their second half display against Garryowen, Ballynahinch are more than capable of getting a result here. Some provincial grunt up front would certainly help, as well as more chances coming the way of Aaron Cairns out wide.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, April 2, 2016: UCD 10 Ballynahinch 15, Belfield Bowl; Saturday, October 19, 2019: Ballynahinch 20 UCD 23, Ballymacarn Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Ballynahinch to win
GARRYOWEN (1st) v CORK CONSTITUTION (5th), Dooradoyle, 3pm
Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Garryowen: WWWW; Cork Constitution: LLLW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Garryowen: Points: Tony Butler 40; Tries: Bryan Fitzgerald, Pat O’Toole 3 each; Cork Constitution: Points: Aidan Moynihan 35; Tries: Sean French 2
Preview: Table-topping Garryowen face one of their biggest challenges yet, tacking a Cork Constitution side that appears to be hitting its stride after a tricky opening few weeks.
The Con forwards were back on song against UCD, including impressive number 8 David Hyland, but it was not a complete 80-minute performance, something which Garryowen also failed to achieve in Ballynahinch.
With their lineout lynchpin Pat O’Toole already on three tries, Garryowen head coach Mike Sherry said: “We’re expecting a big challenge from Con. They’re always tight games, they’ll be coming up with a couple of Munster players back and they’re definitely into their groove now.”
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, March 2, 2019: Garryowen 7 Cork Constitution 15, Dooradoyle; Saturday, October 5, 2019: Cork Constitution 14 Garryowen 13, Temple Hill
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Garryowen to win