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Energia All-Ireland League: Men’s Divisions 1A/1B Previews

Energia All-Ireland League: Men’s Divisions 1A/1B Previews

Lansdowne, beaten semi-finalists last season, are bidding to end the calendar year with a home win over Shannon ©INPHO/Nick Elliott

It is another weather-affected schedule in the Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Divisions, but four games are set to take place across the top flight and Division 1B.


Saturday, December 17

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

LANSDOWNE (8th) v SHANNON (9th), Aviva Stadium back pitch

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Lansdowne: LLLWLLWL; Shannon: LLLLWLWL
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Lansdowne: Points: Peter Hastie 42; Tries: Clive Ross, Michael Silvester 4 each; Shannon: Points: Mike Cooke 52; Tries: Ethan Coughlan, Jordan Prenderville, Aran Hehir 2 each

Preview: Lansdowne and Shannon meet for the first time in the Energia All-Ireland League since February 2019. Both clubs are at the wrong end of the table, with the losers of this game set to sit in the bottom two for the Christmas break.

Sam Prendergast’s involvement with the Ireland Under-20s today means Peter Hastie reverts to out-half from the Lansdowne team originally selected for last week’s postponed fixture. Sam Burns starts at full-back and Darragh Murphy comes into the pack.

Itching to return to action after a heavy derby defeat to Young Munster, Shannon have also made changes. Ireland Under-19 international Josh Costello and Harry Long feature in the back-line, with Odhran Ring slotting in at number 8.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 1, 2018: Shannon 15 Lansdowne 32, Thomond Park back pitch; Saturday, February 16, 2019: Lansdowne 43 Shannon 15, Aviva Stadium back pitch

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win


Saturday, December 17

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

MALONE (10th) v CITY OF ARMAGH (2nd), Gibson Park

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Malone: LLWLLLWL; City of Armagh: WLWLWWWW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Malone: Points: Rory Campbell 60; Tries: Dan Kerr 3; City of Armagh: Points: Kyle Faloon 45; Tries: James McCormick 5

Preview: Second-placed City of Armagh are missing injured top scorer Kyle Faloon (45 points) for their Ulster derby trip to Belfast. Ryan Purvis deputises at full-back, with the back-line led by Romain Morrow and Jack Hughes.

However, Armagh, who also start Peter Lamb, Philip Fletcher and John Glasgow up front, are without a quartet of players who were on Ulster ‘A’ duty yesterday. Malone’s Angus Curtis, Declan Moore and Ben Gibson were also in provincial action.

Malone head coach Josh Pentland commented: “A lack of accuracy at the breakdown and in the opposition 22 cost up at Old Belvedere the last day. The boys have responded well in training, and we’re looking forward to fixing those errors against an Armagh side that have made great strides.”

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 27, 2021: City of Armagh 20 Malone 14, Palace Grounds; Saturday, January 29, 2022: Malone 0 City of Armagh 0, Gibson Park (Covid-19-affected match cancelled – 0-0. Both teams awarded two points)

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: City of Armagh to win

ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (3rd) v HIGHFIELD (4th), Templeville Road

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: St. Mary’s College: LWLWWWLW; Highfield: WWLLLWLW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – St. Mary’s College: Points: Mick O’Gara 80; Tries: Hugo Conway 6; Highfield: Points: Cian Bohane 33; Tries: Cian Bohane 5

Preview: Aaron O’Neill, Ryan O’Loughlin and Hugh Lane are brought into the St. Mary’s College back-line for this top four duel. Sean Cronin’s only other change sees Niall Hurley swap in for Ethan Baxter at openside flanker.

29-10 winners last time out against UCC, Highfield are looking to piece together back-to-back wins for the first time since the opening rounds of the season. Conor Quaid’s men won both of last season’s encounters by four points – 21-17 at home and 28-24 in Templeogue.

Highfield’s top scorer Cian Bohane continues at out-half, this time joined by Richard Cassidy, with the fit-again James Taylor set for some involvement off the bench. Hooker Travis Coomey has scored three tries in his last two games.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 2, 2021: Highfield 21 St. Mary’s College 17, Woodleigh Park; Saturday, April 9, 2022: St. Mary’s College 24 Highfield 28, Templeville Road

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: St. Mary’s College to win

UCC (7th) v OLD BELVEDERE (6th), Musgrave Park, 4.30pm

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: UCC: WWWWLLLL; Old Belvedere: WLWLWLLW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – UCC: Points: Daniel Squires 49; Tries: Sean Condon 5; Old Belvedere: Points: Kale Thatcher 25; Tries: Kale Thatcher 5

Preview: Musgrave Park’s all-weather pitch is the venue as UCC aim to end a run of four straight defeats. Killian Coghlan, Joe O’Leary and Cian Whooley return to the back-line, while a notable switch sees captain Louis Bruce revert to the full-back role.

It is very tight in the mid-section of the table with only two points separating Michael Bradley’s young guns, who also bring in Patrick McBarron at number 8, from fourth-placed Highfield. Therefore, a win of any kind would be a huge result for either club.

Centre Jamie McAleese and back rowers Óran O’Brien and Evan O’Boyle are both promoted from the bench for Old Belvedere’s first away tussle with UCC since September 2017. They won by a single point that day, an injury-time try splitting the sides.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, September 30, 2017: UCC 23 Old Belvedere 24, the Mardyke; Saturday, March 24, 2018: Old Belvedere 22 UCC 26, Anglesea Road

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: UCC to win