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Energia Men’s All-Ireland League: Division 1A Previews

Energia Men’s All-Ireland League: Division 1A Previews

Lansdowne's Leinster Academy scrum half Cormac Foley is pictured in action against Dublin University back in November ©INPHO/Tom Maher

As the Energia Men’s All-Ireland League resumes, the battles at both ends of the table intensify, particularly with relegation-threatened clubs UCC and Ballynahinch meeting at the Mardyke.

Tickets On Sale For Energia All-Ireland League Women’s Division Finals

ENERGIA MEN’S ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE – DIVISION 1A:

ROUND 13: Saturday, February 19

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

CLONTARF (1st) v YOUNG MUNSTER (5th), Castle Avenue

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Clontarf: WWWWLWWWWWWW; Young Munster: WWWWWLLWWWLL
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Clontarf: Points: David Hawkshaw 58; Tries: Dylan Donnellan 11; Young Munster: Points: Evan Cusack 105; Tries: Conor Hayes 9

Preview: The big games keep coming for Young Munster who, following a chastening 33-point Energia Bateman Cup final defeat to Lansdowne, travel to the capital to face the Division 1A leaders.

Table-topping Clontarf, who have hooker Dylan Donnellan as the division’s leading try scorer (11 tries), are on a seven-match winning streak in the league. Lansdowne have been the only team turn them over at Castle Avenue.

Every point counts for Munsters now, especially as they have slipped outside of the top four. Their most recent visit to ‘Tarf in January 2019 could act as motivation – a try from versatile forward Dan Walsh helped them pick up a losing bonus point in a 24-20 reversal.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 5, 2019: Young Munster 6 Clontarf 7, Tom Clifford Park; Saturday, November 20, 2021: Young Munster 17 Clontarf 33, Tom Clifford Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win

DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (6th) v LANSDOWNE (2nd), College Park

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Dublin University: LWWLLWWLWWLW; Lansdowne: WWWLWLWWWWLW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Dublin University: Points: Aran Egan 73; Tries: Aran Egan 4; Lansdowne: Points: Charlie Tector 69; Tries: Cormac Foley, Peter Sullivan, Sean Galvin 5 each

Preview: These teams’ last two meetings have both resulted in two-point away wins for Dublin University, so Lansdowne, the freshly-crowned Energia Bateman Cup champions, will be all out for revenge at College Park. Ben Popplewell starts at tighthead.

Nippy winger Sean Galvin has impressed for Lansdowne of late, weighing in with a hat-trick of tries in the Bateman Cup decider last week having taken his league tally to five.

Trinity are without Thomas Clarkson and Jack Dunne who are on the bench for Leinster. The recent break in AIL action saw Tony Smeeth’s charges play their Oxford counterparts, registering a 46-12 win with captain Mick O’Kennedy returning from injury.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 2, 2019: Lansdowne 11 Dublin University 13, Aviva Stadium back pitch; Friday, November 19, 2021: Lansdowne 25 Dublin University 27, Aviva Stadium back pitch

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win

GARRYOWEN (7th) v TERENURE COLLEGE (3rd), Dooradoyle

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Garryowen: WWWWLLLLLLWL; Terenure College: WLLLWWWWWWWW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Garryowen: Points: Tony Butler 56; Tries: Colm Quilligan 6; Terenure College: Points: Jake Swaine 53; Tries: Craig Adams 9

Preview: From derby success to a crushing defeat to Lansdowne, Garryowen are in danger of falling out of the play-off picture. They lie 11 points outside of the top four, with six rounds remaining.

Centre Bryan Fitzgerald has touched down twice for the Light Blues in the last two rounds. They are boosted by Liam Coombes’ presence at full-back and Tony Butler’s return at out-half, while the pack includes Mark Donnelly and Cian Hurley, both from the Munster Academy.

Adam La Grue comes in for Jake Swaine at full-back in Terenure’s only change. Experienced winger Sam Coghlan Murray is added to the bench as ‘Nure seek their ninth straight victory, hoping to keep the pressure on the top two.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 15, 2020: Garryowen 8 Terenure College 5, Dooradoyle; Saturday, November 20, 2021: Terenure College 25 Garryowen 13, Lakelands Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Terenure College to win

UCC (10th) v BALLYNAHINCH (9th), the Mardyke

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: UCC: LLLLLWLLLLLL; Ballynahinch: LLLLLLLLLLLL
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – UCC: Points: Matthew Bowen 27; Tries: Matthew Bowen 5; Ballynahinch: Points: Greg Hutley 56; Tries: Rory Butler, Shane Ball 3 each

Preview: Ballynahinch may be without a win so far, but their five losing bonus points, coupled with a superior points difference, have them positioned above UCC ahead of tomorrow’s basement battle in Cork.

With automatic relegation no longer applying in this Covid-19-affected season, it will be a two-legged play-off between the bottom two teams to decide who is relegated to the second tier.

UCD are 12 points clear of ‘Hinch and UCC, so this Mardyke match-up could be repeated in the April play-offs. An early Matthew Bowen try proved the difference for UCC when the sides met in Co. Down in November.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 12, 2019: UCC 39 Ballynahinch 6, the Mardyke; Saturday, November 20, 2021: Ballynahinch 6 UCC 10, Ballymacarn Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Ballynahinch to win

UCD (8th) v CORK CONSTITUTION (4th), UCD Bowl

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: UCD: LLLWWLLLLLWL; Cork Constitution: LLLWWWWWLLWW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – UCD: Points: James Tarrant 61; Tries: Paddy Patterson 5; Cork Constitution: Points: Aidan Moynihan 85; Tries: Cathal O’Flaherty, Greg Higgins 4 each

Preview: In a special tribute to the late great Tom Kiernan, his two former clubs, UCC and Cork Constitution, have jointly retired the number 15 jersey for the rest of the season. Their full-backs will wear the number ’54’, in recognition of his total number of Ireland caps.

For the visit of Con, UCD bring in Leinster Academy duo Chris Cosgrave and Niall Comerford, the latter included on the bench after his recent Ireland Sevens exploits. Munster’s Paddy Patterson starts at scrum half.

Constitution are back in the top four, but have Young Munster and Trinity snapping at their heels. Their centre pairing of Greg Higgins, who now has four tries to his name, and Niall Kenneally remains one of the best in the top flight.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 25, 2020: UCD 25 Cork Constitution 29, UCD Bowl; Saturday, November 20, 2021: Cork Constitution 38 UCD 10, Temple Hill

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win