Clontarf and Lansdowne, the leading two teams in Division 1A kick off another mouth-watering run of fixtures in the Energia Men’s All-Ireland League this weekend.
ENERGIA MEN’S ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE – DIVISION 1A:
ROUND 14: Saturday, February 26
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
LANSDOWNE (2nd) v CLONTARF (1st), Aviva Stadium back pitch, tonight, 7.30pm
Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Lansdowne: WWWLWLWWWWLWW; Clontarf: WWWWLWWWWWWWW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Lansdowne: Points: Charlie Tector 69; Tries: Cormac Foley, Peter Sullivan, Sean Galvin 5 each; Clontarf: Points: Dylan Donnellan 60; Tries: Dylan Donnellan 12
Preview: Table toppers Clontarf pay a visit to their closest rivals Lansdowne, keen to exact revenge for a 22-5 home defeat from early November. That has been the only blemish so far on ‘Tarf’s copybook for 2021/22.
Conor Kearns slots back in at out-half for the north Dubliners, with tighthead prop Ben Griffin their only change up front. 21-year-old Leinster Academy winger Andrew Smith has been added to the bench.
Lansdowne, who have six points to spare over third-placed Terenure College, bring Eamonn Mills, James Reynolds, Corey Reid and James Kenny into the backs, while Connacht’s Greg McGrath dons the number 3 jersey.
Recent League Meetings – Friday, February 14, 2020: Lansdowne 29 Clontarf 28, Aviva Stadium back pitch; Friday, November 5, 2021: Clontarf 5 Lansdowne 22, Castle Avenue
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win
BALLYNAHINCH (9th) v UCD (8th), Ballymacarn Park
Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Ballynahinch: LLLLLLLLLLLLW; UCD: LLLWWLLLLLWLD
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Ballynahinch: Points: Greg Hutley 65; Tries: Rory Butler, Shane Ball, Greg Hutley, Kyle McCall 3 each; UCD: Points: James Tarrant 61; Tries: Paddy Patterson, David Ryan 5 each
Preview: After doing the business against UCC, Ballynahinch have another student hurdle to negotiate as they continue their fight against relegation. Another win here could see them cut the gap to UCD to six or seven points.
Third-from-bottom College can test any top flight team on their day, as shown last week against defending champions Cork Constitution. They were 42-17 winners when they hosted ‘Hinch in early November.
Current Ireland Under-20 international Shane Mallon is on the bench for UCD tomorrow. Ross Deegan, Richie Fahy, Diarmuid Mangan, Jack Gardiner and Cian Reilly all come in as starters, with Simon Burke switching to number 8.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 19, 2019: Ballynahinch 20 UCD 23, Ballymacarn Park; Saturday, November 6, 2021: UCD 42 Ballynahinch 17, UCD Bowl
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: UCD to win
CORK CONSTITUTION (4th) v GARRYOWEN (7th), Temple Hill
Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Cork Constitution: LLLWWWWWLLWWD; Garryowen: WWWWLLLLLLWLL
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Cork Constitution: Points: Aidan Moynihan 96; Tries: Cathal O’Flaherty, Greg Higgins 4 each; Garryowen: Points: Tony Butler 63; Tries: Colm Quilligan, Bryan Fitzgerald 6 each
Preview: This Munster derby could be season-defining for both of these teams. Garryowen need a change in fortunes to reach the play-offs, as they now trail fourth-placed Cork Constitution by 13 points with five rounds remaining.
Cork Con, who won 23-21 at Dooradoyle in November, are unbeaten in three games and need to keep winning to stay in title contention. Hooker Max Abbott’s impressive scoring form continued at UCD with his third try in as many games.
Munster’s Liam Coombes starts again for Garryowen tomorrow, Jack Delaney’s switch to out-half seeing Dave McCarthy come in at inside centre. Roy Whelan and Des Fitzgerald are the two changes up front for the Light Blues.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 5, 2019: Cork Constitution 14 Garryowen 13, Temple Hill; Saturday, November 6, 2021: Garryowen 21 Cork Constitution 23, Dooradoyle
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win
TERENURE COLLEGE (3rd) v DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (6th), Lakelands Park
Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Terenure College: WLLLWWWWWWWWW; Dublin University: LWWLLWWLWWLWL
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Terenure College: Points: Jake Swaine 53; Tries: Craig Adams 9; Dublin University: Points: Aran Egan 83; Tries: Aran Egan 5
Preview: Can Terenure College make it ten league wins in a row? Their enviable run of results all started with Caolan Dooley’s last-gasp penalty which guided them to a dramatic 16-15 triumph at College Park.
It was a nightmare finish for Dublin University who, following last week’s 20-15 defeat to Lansdowne, make three changes. Ronan Quinn, Liam McMahon and Leinster Academy hooker Lee Barron are all handed starts.
Terenure, who squeezed past Garryowen by a single point, has swapped in Sam Coghlan Murray on the right wing. Captain Stephen O’Neill switches to the opposite flank, with Craig Adams, their leading try scorer, held in reserve.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 11, 2020: Dublin University 13 Terenure College 6, College Park; Saturday, November 6, 2021: Dublin University 15 Terenure College 16, College Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Terenure College to win
YOUNG MUNSTER (5th) v UCC (10th), Tom Clifford Park
Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Young Munster: WWWWWLLWWWLLL; UCC: LLLLLWLLLLLLL
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Young Munster: Points: Evan Cusack 109; Tries: Conor Hayes 9; UCC: Points: Matthew Bowen 27; Tries: Matthew Bowen 5
Preview: Another difficult assignment for UCC who gave Young Munster as good as they got when the sides met at the Mardyke back in November. The power differential up front helped the Cookies claim a 19-9 victory.
Now with three defeats on the bounce, fifth-placed Munsters are in desperate need of a result against the students. They will be hoping to create more opportunities for Ireland Sevens speedster Conor Phillips out wide.
UCC came through an attritional defeat to Ballynahinch with a number of injury concerns. Some Munster player releases would give them a timely lift as they scramble to avoid the two-legged relegation play-off.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 19, 2019: Young Munster 14 UCC 20, Tom Clifford Park; Saturday, November 6, 2021: UCC 9 Young Munster 19, the Mardyke
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win