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

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

Aran Egan, Division 1A's top points scorer, throws a pass during Dublin University's win over Shannon earlier in the season ©INPHO/Nick Elliott

The final third of the regular season in Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Division 1A begins with some heavyweight encounters, including a top four duel between Clontarf, the reigning champions, and Young Munster.


Saturday, February 18

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

BALLYNAHINCH (6th) v TERENURE COLLEGE (1st), Ballymacarn Park

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Ballynahinch: WWLLWLLWWWWL; Terenure College: WWWWWWWWLWWL
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Ballynahinch: Points: Greg Hutley 105; Tries: George Pringle 8; Terenure College: Points: Caolan Dooley 72; Tries: Craig Adams 8

Preview: Ballynahinch’s loss last time out at Cork Constitution snapped their four-match winning streak. They are only four points outside of the top four, though, and will relish this shot at table toppers Terenure College.

They are boosted by the inclusion of Ulster’s Jake Flannery and Marcus Rea, along with Academy prop George Saunderson, in their starting XV. Flannery starts at out-half, meaning ‘Hinch’s top scorer Greg Hutley (105 points) switches to full-back.

Terenure won by four points on their most recent visit to Ballymacarn Park in January 2022. They will be hoping the likes of Alan Bennie, Jordan Coghlan and captain Harrison Brewer can steer them back to winning ways.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 22, 2022: Ballynahinch 23 Terenure College 27, Ballymacarn Park; Saturday, November 12, 2022: Terenure College 38 Ballynahinch 21, Lakelands Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Terenure College to win

CLONTARF (2nd) v YOUNG MUNSTER (4th), Castle Avenue

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Clontarf: WWWWWLLWWWLW; Young Munster: LWWLLWWWWLWW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Clontarf: Points: Conor Kelly 76; Tries: Dylan Donnellan 10; Young Munster: Points: Evan Cusack 72; Tries: Dan Walsh 7

Preview: Another belter of a contest in prosect as Clontarf aim to avenge November’s 24-19 loss at the hands of Young Munster. ‘Tarf moved back into second place in the last round, having got the better of Terenure on a 29-24 scoreline.

Hooker Dylan Donnellan, last season’s leading try scorer, remains a key man close to the whitewash, picking up his 10th try of the campaign in Lakelands. Munsters’ well-oiled mauling and carrying also make them a potent force from close range.

Munster centre Dan Goggin returns to the Cookies’ line-up, while Ronan O’Sullivan covers the absence of Dan Walsh in the back row, and props David Begley and Conor Bartley are promoted from the bench. Patrick Campbell is listed among the replacements.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 19, 2022: Clontarf 22 Young Munster 14, Castle Avenue; Saturday, November 12, 2022: Young Munster 24 Clontarf 19, Tom Clifford Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win

LANSDOWNE (7th) v CORK CONSTITUTION (3rd), Aviva Stadium back pitch

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Lansdowne: LLLWLLWLLWWL; Cork Constitution: WLWWWWWLDWWW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Lansdowne: Points: Peter Hastie 55; Tries: Tadgh McElroy, Michael Silvester 6 each; Cork Constitution: Points: Aidan Moynihan 89; Tries: Billy Scannell 5

Preview: Now guided by Declan Fassbender as head coach, Lansdowne have brought back in Tadgh McElroy, Jack Dwan and Michael Silvester for the visit of third-placed Cork Constitution. McElroy and Silvester have been regular scorers with six tries each.

Cillian Redmond and Tom Monaghan, who is rewarded for his form with the J1 team, pair up together in the centre. Liam Forster slots in at openside flanker, and Daniel McEvoy and Stephen Madigan, who features at out-half, are also handed starting roles.

Cork Con have started 2023 with three league wins on the bounce. Captain Aidan Moynihan returns from injury at out-half, with Daniel Hurley, Alessandro Heaney and Matisse Lamarque d’Arrouzat their other changes in personnel.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, April 9, 2022: Cork Constitution 21 Lansdowne 17, Temple Hill; Saturday, November 12, 2022: Cork Constitution 36 Lansdowne 25, Temple Hill

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win

SHANNON (9th) v DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (5th), Thomond Park back pitch

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Shannon: LLLLWLWLWLLL; Dublin University: WWWWLWLLDLLL
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Shannon: Points: Mike Cooke 85; Tries: Jordan Prenderville 3; Dublin University: Points: Aran Egan 129; Tries: Ronan Quinn 9

Preview: Both of these teams have been winless since the turn of the year, although there have been tight margins for the most part. With no victories since beating Shannon 34-28 back in November, Dublin University really need a result.

Leinster Academy flyer Max O’Reilly comes in on the right wing for the students, who also give starts to Mark ‘Sparky’ Nicholson and Thomas Connolly in the front row, and Felix Campbell at openside flanker.

Cian O’Halloran, Harry Long and Odhran Ring are all promoted from the Shannon bench. The latter’s inclusion in the back row sees Kerry man Sean McCarthy, a nephew of Mick Galwey, revert to the second row where he partners David Maher.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 23, 2019: Shannon 24 Dublin University 27, Thomond Park back pitch; Saturday, November 12, 2022: Dublin University 34 Shannon 28, College Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Dublin University to win

UCD (8th) v GARRYOWEN (10th), UCD Bowl

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: UCD: LLLLLWLWLLLW; Garryowen: LLLLLLLLLLLW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – UCD: Points: Tim Corkery 41; Tries: Ross Deegan, Alex O’Grady 5 each; Garryowen: Points: Tony Butler 58; Tries: JJ O’Neill 4

Preview: The Leinster Academy trio of Chris Cosgrave, Ben Brownlee and Sean O’Brien will all start for UCD in their crunch clash with Garryowen. Having moved out of the bottom two, the Belfield side are targeting another big result.

Brownlee teams up with David Ryan in the centre as Mark McDermott’s youngsters try to put together two winning performances for the first time this season. Garryowen travel on a high after overcoming Lansdowne to break their duck.

Brian Gleeson, who has been impressing for the Ireland Under-20s, and Jack Oliver, who underwent ankle surgery, are big losses, but the Light Blues have been increasingly competitive of late. Especially when Munster Academy out-half Tony Butler is available.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, March 26, 2022: UCD 33 Garryowen 27, UCD Bowl; Saturday, November 12, 2022: Garryowen 22 UCD 47, Dooradoyle

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: UCD to win