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

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

Winger Aaron Cairns dives over to score a try for Ballynahinch during last week's bonus point victory over Shannon at Ballymacarn Park ©DICKSON DIGITAL/John Dickson

Two of Division 1A’s unbeaten teams, Ballynahinch and Clontarf, face off on Saturday afternoon, while promoted club Shannon host Cork Constitution in a mouth-watering Munster derby.


Saturday, October 15

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

SHANNON (10th) v CORK CONSTITUTION (6th), Thomond Park back pitch, 2pm

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Shannon: LL; Cork Constitution: WL
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Shannon: Points: Mike Cooke 6; Tries: Aran Hehir 1; Cork Constitution: Points: Aidan Moynihan 13; Tries: James Murphy, Billy Scannell, Greg Higgins 1 each

Preview: Munster Academy scrum half Ethan Coughlan will start for Shannon on Saturday. John O’Sullivan, Jamie McGarry and Dan Hurley form a new back-three as wholesale changes are made to the team that lost 41-8 at Ballynahinch.

Cathal Hynes, Alex Long, Luke Rigney, Sean McCarthy and Eoin McCormack all come into the Shannon pack. Sixth-placed Cork Constitution are smarting from their own heavy defeat from last week.

Looking to bounce back from a 47-12 loss in Terenure, Con have made seven changes, including a freshened-up front row of Munster loosehead Liam O’Connor, Max Abbott and Alessandro Heaney. Bruce Matthews and Billy Crowley fill the wing berths.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 6, 2018: Cork Constitution 27 Shannon 7, Temple Hill; Saturday, April 13, 2019: Shannon 19 Cork Constitution 34, Thomond Park back pitch

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win

BALLYNAHINCH (3rd) v CLONTARF (4th), Ballymacarn Park

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Ballynahinch: WW; Clontarf: WW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Ballynahinch: Points: Greg Hutley 30; Tries: George Pringle, Aaron Cairns 2 each; Clontarf: Points: Conor Kelly 16; Tries: Dylan Donnellan 3

Preview: Something will have to give at Ballymacarn Park as Ballynahinch and Clontarf have both posted two wins out of two. It was quite an arm wrestle the last time Clontarf made the trip, the visitors prevailing on a 13-3 scoreline.

Hooker Dylan Donnellan scored the game’s only try that day, with current Connacht player David Hawkshaw kicking the rest of the north Dubliners’ points. Donnellan is poised to captain ‘Tarf again if Matt D’Arcy misses out through injury.

With some key summer signings, Ballynahinch look a much tougher nut to crack this year. Out-half Greg Hutley (30 points) is up there as one of the division’s leading scorers, while Zack McCall, Bradley Luney and Jamie McCartney have formed a dynamic back row.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 9, 2021: Ballynahinch 3 Clontarf 13, Ballymacarn Park; Saturday, April 2, 2022: Clontarf 40 Ballynahinch 14, Castle Avenue

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win

GARRYOWEN (9th) v TERENURE COLLEGE (1st), Dooradoyle

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Garryowen: LL; Terenure College: WW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Garryowen: Points: Tony Butler 32; Tries: Tony Butler 2; Terenure College: Points: Callum Smith 17; Tries: Craig Adams, Harrison Brewer, Jordan Coghlan 2 each

Preview: Leaders Terenure College make just one change to the team that thumped Cork Con 47-12. Former UCC flyer Matthew Bowen returns on the right wing. Fresh from his All-Ireland League debut, Henry McErlean continues on the bench.

Terenure include ten starters from last February’s 18-17 triumph at Garryowen, a game in which the Light Blues looked the likely winners thanks to tries from Bryan Fitzgerald and Tommy O’Hora. However, a Levi Vaughan score secured an away win.

While disappointed to miss out on the derby spoils, Garryowen took positives from an improved performance against Young Munster. Tony Butler was in talismanic form, and the returning Sean Rennison revelled in the forward exchanges.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 20, 2021: Terenure College 25 Garryowen 13, Lakelands Park; Saturday, February 19, 2022: Garryowen 17 Terenure College 18, Dooradoyle

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Terenure College to win

LANSDOWNE (7th) v DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (2nd), Aviva Stadium back pitch

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Lansdowne: LL; Dublin University: WW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Lansdowne: Points: Charlie Tector 8; Tries: Luke Thompson, Sean Galvin, Dan Murphy, Jack Matthews, Donough Lawlor, Conall Doherty, Clive Ross, Peter Sullivan 1 each; Dublin University: Points: Aran Egan 33; Tries: Aran Egan, Colm Hogan 3 each

Preview: Tadgh McElroy, a short-term signing for Leinster at hooker, will start for Lansdowne as one of six changes to the side that lost 27-19 at Clontarf. Ben Popplewell and Letterkenny’s Conor McMenamin also come into the tight five.

Peter Hastie is handed the reins at out-half, with Andy Marks and Cillian Redmond also claiming back-line places. A repeat of last November’s away win over Lansdowne would do nicely for in-form Dublin University.

Aaron Coleman packs down at number 8 for Trinity, Louis McDonough replaces Leinster’s Liam Turner in midfield, and Liam McMahon is brought into the back-three. Leinster prop Thomas Clarkson has been added to the bench following his return from the Emerging Ireland tour.

Recent League Meetings – Friday, November 19, 2021: Lansdowne 25 Dublin University 27, Aviva Stadium back pitch; Saturday, February 19, 2022: Dublin University 15 Lansdowne 20, College Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win

UCD (8th) v YOUNG MUNSTER (5th), UCD Bowl

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: UCD: LL; Young Munster: LW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – UCD: Points: Sean O’Brien 15; Tries: Sean O’Brien 3; Young Munster: Points: Evan Cusack 22; Tries: Conor Hayes 2

Preview: Included on the UCD bench, Connacht’s Adam Byrne is poised for some game-time during the students’ third round encounter with Young Munster. The Cookies won the corresponding fixture 18-12 last year, with Evan Cusack kicking an important eight points.

College, who make six personnel changes, are without Leinster Academy forward Sean O’Brien this week. Captain Bobby Sheehan reverts to the back row, while Gus McCarthy, Ryan McMahon, Gerry Hill and Martin Fallon freshen up the tight five.

The Munster Academy’s Fionn Gibbons will make his debut for Young Munster against his former club. The Ireland Under-20 Grand Slam winner starts at outside centre, with Munster’s Chris Moore and Eoin O’Connor part of the pack.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 11, 2021: UCD 12 Young Munster 18, UCD Bowl; Saturday, January 15, 2022: Young Munster 27 UCD 20, Tom Clifford Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win