The penultimate round of the Energia All-Ireland League season kicks off with tonight’s annual Colours match between Dublin University, who can still make the play-offs, and UCD.
ENERGIA ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE – MEN’S DIVISION 1A:
ROUND 17: Saturday, April 2
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (6th) v UCD (7th), College Park, tonight, 7.30pm
Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Dublin University: LWWLLWWLWWLWLLWW; UCD: LLLWWLLLLLWLDWWW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Dublin University: Points: Aran Egan 88; Tries: Aran Egan 5; UCD: Points: James Tarrant 81; Tries: David Ryan 8
Preview: James Culhane, the newly-announced Under-20 Six Nations Player of the Championship, makes his return to the UCD team along with Mark Morrissey, another member of Ireland’s U-20 Grand Slam-winning side.
Jack Boyle and Rory McGuire are held in reserve on their return from international duty, but UCD, who also include Munster scrum half Paddy Patterson, who have to go some to derail Dublin University’s push for a play-off spot.
Trinity, 31-0 winners at UCD in October, can still finish in the top four. A win this evening is vital and they have Leinster’s Max O’Reilly and Rob Russell starting in the back-three, along with 15-times capped provincial prop Thomas Clarkson on the bench.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 12, 2019: UCD 30 Dublin University 19, UCD Bowl; Saturday, October 9, 2021: UCD 0 Dublin University 31, UCD Bowl
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Dublin University to win
CLONTARF (1st) v BALLYNAHINCH (9th), Castle Avenue
Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Clontarf: WWWWLWWWWWWWWWWW; Ballynahinch: LLLLLLLLLLLLWLLL
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Clontarf: Points: Dylan Donnellan 75; Tries: Dylan Donnellan 15; Ballynahinch: Points: Greg Hutley 69; Tries: Kyle McCall 4
Preview: A dead rubber contest given Clontarf have secured a home semi-final and Ballynahinch are set to contest the relegation play-off with UCC. Still, momentum is so crucial as we reach April and a decisive few weeks at both ends of the table.
Front runners Clontarf will want to keep the ball rolling in their final home game of the regular season. They have impressively put together 11 wins on the trot, with winger Cian O’Donoghue crossing twice in his last three outings.
Ballynahinch have lost their last three matches but have been competitive in each one. Adam Craig’s charges could benefit again from the presence of versatile Ulster Academy back Conor Rankin, who scored a try from full-back against Trinity last week.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 11, 2020: Ballynahinch 11 Clontarf 10, Ballymacarn Park; Saturday, October 9, 2021: Ballynahinch 3 Clontarf 13, Ballymacarn Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win
LANSDOWNE (2nd) v TERENURE COLLEGE (3rd), Aviva Stadium back pitch
Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Lansdowne: WWWLWLWWWWLWWLLW; Terenure College: WLLLWWWWWWWWWWLW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Lansdowne: Points: Charlie Tector 69; Tries: Sean Galvin 6; Terenure College: Points: Jake Swaine 67; Tries: Craig Adams 10
Preview: This has the potential to be the match of the round as Lansdowne attempt to sew up a home semi-final. Opposing them are an ever-dangerous Terenure College outfit who could yet climb above their hosts into second place.
Ireland Under-20 star Charlie Tector resumes at out-half for Lansdowne, pairing up with Leinster’s Cormac Foley behind an unchanged pack. Connacht winger Peter Sullivan and Andy Marks also come into the starting XV.
Loosehead Dewald Barnard is the only change to the Terenure team that overcame Young Munster 18-12. ‘Nure have been fielding a settled side in recent rounds and are aiming to avenge October’s 39-26 home defeat to Lansdowne.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 25, 2020: Terenure College 16 Lansdowne 17, Lakelands Park; Saturday, October 9, 2021: Terenure College 26 Lansdowne 39, Lakelands Park
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win
UCC (10th) v GARRYOWEN (8th), the Mardyke
Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: UCC: LLLLLWLLLLLLLLLL; Garryowen: WWWWLLLLLLWLLLWL
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – UCC: Points: Daniel Squires 32; Tries: Matthew Bowen 5; Garryowen: Points: Tony Butler 82; Tries: Colm Quilligan 7
Preview: A busy weekend for UCC as they are also in Fraser McMullen Cup quarter-final action on Sunday. Leaking over 50 points to Lansdowne last Sunday was harsh on them, although their three well-earned maul tries gave them a boost.
When they visited Garryowen, tomorrow’s opponents, back in October, the Light Blues prevailed 32-20 with winger Colm Quilligan, who now has seven tries to his name, touching down twice.
Garryowen were league leaders back then, but the last two-thirds of the regular season have seen them fall well out of title contention. Frustratingly, just a couple more wins and Mike Sherry’s men could have been in the shake up for the top four.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 25, 2020: UCC 7 Garryowen 15, the Mardyke; Saturday, October 9, 2021: Garryowen 32 UCC 20, Dooradoyle
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Garryowen to win
YOUNG MUNSTER (5th) v CORK CONSTITUTION (4th), Tom Clifford Park
Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Young Munster: WWWWWLLWWWLLLWWL; Cork Constitution: LLLWWWWWLLWWDWLL
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Young Munster: Points: Evan Cusack 137; Tries: Conor Hayes 9; Cork Constitution: Points: Aidan Moynihan 119; Tries: Greg Higgins 6
Preview: Two points separate these sides in the table. Cork Constitution, who lost 24-12 to Clontarf last week, occupy fourth spot but by the time they kick off against fifth-placed Young Munster, Dublin University could have leapfrogged over both of them.
Munsters also come into this provincial derby on the back of a loss, although four Evan Cusack penalties did earn them a losing bonus point in Terenure. They have to create more opportunities out wide for Conor Hayes and Conor Phillips.
The Cookies are chasing a season’s double after winning 24-17 at Temple Hill in October, while they also won a Munster Senior Cup tie by the same margin. Munster’s Alex McHenry has hit form for Con with four tries in as many games.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 11, 2020: Cork Constitution 18 Young Munster 3, Temple Hill; Saturday, October 9, 2021: Cork Constitution 17 Young Munster 24, Temple Hill
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win