Division 1A’s penultimate round before Christmas features four local derbies, including a mouth-watering floodlit encounter between Limerick rivals Young Munster and Garryowen.
ENERGIA MEN’S ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE – DIVISION 1A:
ROUND 8: Saturday, December 4
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
CLONTARF (1st) v DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (6th), Castle Avenue
Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Clontarf: WWWWLWW; Dublin University: LWWLLWW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Clontarf: Points: Dylan Donnellan, Conor Kearns 40 each; Tries: Dylan Donnellan 8; Dublin University: Points: Mick O’Kennedy 31; Tries: Mark Nicholson, Louis O’Reilly, Giuseppe Coyne, Harry Sheridan, Aran Egan, Marcus Kiely 2 each
Preview: This Dublin derby is shaping up to be a cracking contest, with both sides in very good form and their last two league meetings produced a whopping 138 points and 17 tries between them.
Athletic Academy second rows Harry Sheridan and Joe McCarthy are really beginning to shine for Trinity, both players impressing up front during last week’s big win over Young Munster.
As this is their last home game of 2021, Clontarf will be doubly determined to keep up their winning momentum. Conor Kearns has done well at out-half in David Hawkshaw’s absence, racking up 40 points.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 7, 2019: Dublin University 32 Clontarf 42, College Park; Saturday, January 25, 2020: Clontarf 41 Dublin University 23, Castle Avenue
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win
LANSDOWNE (2nd) v UCD (8th), Aviva Stadium back pitch
Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Lansdowne: WWWLWLW; UCD: LLLWWLL
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Lansdowne: Points: Charlie Tector 43; Tries: Cormac Foley 4; UCD: Points: James Tarrant 46; Tries: Paddy Patterson 3
Preview: Jack Ringrose and his UCD team-mates make the short trip to headquarters looking for a timely boost, with back-to-back defeats leaving them just five points above the bottom two.
In contrast, Lansdowne were ruthless in putting 29 points on Garryowen last week, but consistency has been an issue for them. Roll back to their last home game and they were stung at the death by Trinity.
The opposing number 8s are two quality operators. UCD’s Ronan Foley chipped in with a try against Terenure in the last round, while Mark Boyle, always sharp at the breakdown for Lansdowne, has three tries to his name.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, March 23, 2019: Lansdowne 57 UCD 31, Aviva Stadium back pitch; Saturday, October 5, 2019: Lansdowne 33 UCD 3, Aviva Stadium back pitch
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win
TERENURE COLLEGE (7th) v BALLYNAHINCH (10th), Lakelands Park
Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Terenure College: WLLLWWW; Ballynahinch: LLLLLLL
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Terenure College: Points: Caolan Dooley 27; Tries: Craig Adams 4; Ballynahinch: Points: Greg Hutley 28; Tries: Shane Ball 2
Preview: Ballynahinch make their third trip of the season to the capital, a week on from almost beating defending champions Cork Constitution. They were a missed drop goal away from an elusive maiden win.
They undoubtedly were encouraged by their performance – a fourth losing bonus point and South African recruit Shane Ball’s second try – and Terenure College have potentially shown them the way.
‘Nure have bounced back from three defeats with three straight victories. Colm de Buitléar, the 24-year-old former Connacht back, and captain Harrison Brewer have led by example for Sean Skehan’s side.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 30, 2016: Terenure College 9 Ballynahinch 20, Lakelands Park; Saturday, October 5, 2019: Ballynahinch 19 Terenure College 22, Ballymacarn Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Terenure College to win
UCC (9th) v CORK CONSTITUTION (3rd), the Mardyke
Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: UCC: LLLLLWL; Cork Constitution: LLLWWWW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – UCC: Points: Matthew Bowen 27; Tries: Matthew Bowen 5; Cork Constitution: Points: Aidan Moynihan 52; Tries: Greg Higgins 3
Preview: UCC host Cork Constitution in a league game for the first time in just over two years. A lot has changed since then, with Neil Lucey now in charge at the Mardyke and seeking his first home victory.
Previously the club’s Under-20 coach, Lucey knows his young players well and they have been resilient against some of the division’s bigger packs. Mark Bissessar and Jack Kelleher, in particular.
However, Cork Con look to have too much firepower here. Brian Hickey will have them primed for a big performance after stuttering against ‘Hinch. Munster Development XV flanker John Forde, a try scorer last week, is one to watch.
Recent League Meetings – Friday, November 15, 2019: UCC 6 Cork Constitution 10, the Mardyke; Friday, February 21, 2020: Cork Constitution 16 UCC 12, Temple Hill
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win
YOUNG MUNSTER (4th) v GARRYOWEN (5th), Tom Clifford Park, 5pm
Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Young Munster: WWWWWLL; Garryowen: WWWWLLL
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Young Munster: Points: Evan Cusack 63; Tries: Conor Hayes 7; Garryowen: Points: Tony Butler 43; Tries: Colm Quilligan 4
Preview: Former Limerick minor hurler Cian Casey steps up at full-back for Young Munster tomorrow evening. He is part of a much-changed Cookies line-up for this tasty local derby.
Conor Hayes reverts to the right wing, Conor O’Shaughnessy and Jack Lyons are also added to the back-line, while Dan Walsh shows his versatility by filling in at hooker. Fintan Coleman packs down at number 8.
Garryowen, who are looking to end a three-match losing run, move Jamie Heuston to out-half. Tommy O’Hora returns on the left wing, with prop Niall Horan and flanker Alan Fitzgerald also handed starts.
Recent League Meetings – Friday, November 8, 2019: Young Munster 13 Garryowen 19, Tom Clifford Park; Friday, February 28, 2020: Garryowen 7 Young Munster 11, Dooradoyle
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win