The make-up of the top four is still to be decided in Division 1A, and there are some crunch clashes in Cork and Dublin as the Energia All-Ireland League resumes this weekend.
ENERGIA ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE – MEN’S DIVISION 1A:
ROUND 16: Saturday, March 26
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
BALLYNAHINCH (9th) v DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (6th), Ballymacarn Park
Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Ballynahinch: LLLLLLLLLLLLWLL; Dublin University: LWWLLWWLWWLWLLW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Ballynahinch: Points: Greg Hutley 67; Tries: Kyle McCall 4; Dublin University: Points: Aran Egan 88; Tries: Aran Egan 5
Preview: Dublin University’s thrilling 32-27 bonus point success against Cork Constitution has kept them in the hunt for the play-offs, but they are running out of games with fourth-placed Cork Con still eight points ahead of them.
Ballynahinch’s hopes of finishing outside of the bottom two are now over, so all of their focus will be on overcoming UCC in the relegation play-off, which will over two legs – home and away – next month.
Trinity, who have their Colours clash with UCD next Friday, won 40-26 on their most recent visit to ‘Hinch. They are seeking a season’s double over the County Down side after flanker Anthony Ryan’s maul try sealed a 19-13 home win in October.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 22, 2020: Ballynahinch 26 Dublin University 40, Ballymacarn Park; Saturday, October 16, 2021: Dublin University 19 Ballynahinch 13, College Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Dublin University to win
CORK CONSTITUTION (4th) v CLONTARF (1st), Temple Hill
Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Cork Constitution: LLLWWWWWLLWWDWL; Clontarf: WWWWLWWWWWWWWWW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Cork Constitution: Points: Aidan Moynihan 119; Tries: Greg Higgins 6; Clontarf: Points: Dylan Donnellan 75; Tries: Dylan Donnellan 15
Preview: Cork Constitution face arguably the biggest game of their season when Energia All-Ireland League pacesetters Clontarf, who have put together a ten-match winning streak, come to town.
Cork Con currently occupy the last semi-final spot, sandwiched in a six-point spread between Terenure College and Young Munster who also meet tomorrow in the capital.
Con lost at Dublin University last time out and will need big performances from the likes of Niall Kenneally, Conor Kindregan and Luke Cahill if they are to trip up ‘Tarf, whose hooker Dylan Donnellan is top of the league’s try scoring charts with a superb haul of 15 scores.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 12, 2019: Clontarf 25 Cork Constitution 28, Castle Avenue; Saturday, October 16, 2021: Clontarf 31 Cork Constitution 24, Castle Avenue
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win
TERENURE COLLEGE (3rd) v YOUNG MUNSTER (5th), Lakelands Park
Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Terenure College: WLLLWWWWWWWWWWL; Young Munster: WWWWWLLWWWLLLWW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Terenure College: Points: Jake Swaine 59; Tries: Craig Adams 10; Young Munster: Points: Evan Cusack 125; Tries: Conor Hayes 9
Preview: A huge encounter for both clubs in what has become a furious scrap for semi-final places. Terenure College are looking to bounce back from losing at Clontarf, while fifth-placed Young Munster are chasing a third straight victory.
Adam La Grue, Matthew Caffrey and tighthead prop Adam Tuite are the three changes to Terenure’s starting line-up. Munsters are able to welcome back their top try scorer, winger Conor Hayes, from injury.
Pa Ryan also bolsters the Cookies’ midfield, seeing Ireland Sevens international Conor Phillips revert to the left wing. Tom Goggin is restored to the second row and Munster Academy forward Eoin O’Connor switches to the blindside flank.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 12, 2019: Terenure College 30 Young Munster 23, Lakelands Park; Saturday, October 16, 2021: Young Munster 19 Terenure College 7, Tom Clifford Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Terenure College to win
UCD (8th) v GARRYOWEN (7th), UCD Bowl
Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: UCD: LLLWWLLLLLWLDWW; Garryowen: WWWWLLLLLLWLLLW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – UCD: Points: James Tarrant 68; Tries: David Ryan 7; Garryowen: Points: Tony Butler 82; Tries: Colm Quilligan, Bryan Fitzgerald 6 each
Preview: With their Division 1A status now secured following back-to-back wins, UCD host seventh-placed Garryowen and have Munster Academy scrum half Paddy Patterson on the bench for an impact role.
Dylan and Alex O’Grady, Jack Gardiner and Simon Burke come in as the students’ personnel changes. Jack Ringrose’s absence means hooker Bobby Sheehan steps up as captain, while centre David Ryan is chasing his sixth try in seven games.
Garryowen got back to winning ways against Ballynahinch, with Tony Butler, a Grand Slam winner with the Ireland Under-20s, starring with 19 points from the tee. However, the play-offs are now out of reach for the Light Blues.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 11, 2020: Garryowen 40 UCD 14, Dooradoyle; Saturday, October 16, 2021: Garryowen 26 UCD 13, Dooradoyle
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Garryowen to win
LANSDOWNE (2nd) v UCC (10th), Aviva Stadium back pitch, Sunday
Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Lansdowne: WWWLWLWWWWLWWLL; UCC: LLLLLWLLLLLLLLL
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Lansdowne: Points: Charlie Tector 69; Tries: Sean Galvin 6; UCC: Points: Daniel Squires 30; Tries: Matthew Bowen 5
Preview: With the Republic of Ireland hosting Belgium in a soccer international tomorrow, Lansdowne have moved their penultimate home game of the league campaign to Sunday as bottom side UCC pay them a visit.
After suffering back-to-back defeats, Mark McHugh’s men still have work to do to book their semi-final place. They will draw confidence from October’s 31-15 triumph over the Cork students, when Michael Silvester touched down twice.
UCC can do no more in terms of trying to avoid the relegation play-off. It will be either them or Ballynahinch who drop down to the second tier via a two-legged tussle. Improving their strike rate will be vital to their survival hopes.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 11, 2020: Lansdowne 19 UCC 18, Aviva Stadium back pitch; Saturday, October 16, 2021: UCC 15 Lansdowne 31, the Mardyke
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win