Another action-packed Energia All-Ireland League Saturday afternoon awaits as venues in Dublin, Limerick and Ballynahinch play host to top flight fare.
ENERGIA ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE MEN’S DIVISION 1A – ROUND 15:
Saturday, March 4
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
GARRYOWEN (10th) v CORK CONSTITUTION (3rd), Dooradoyle
Preview: Garryowen may have just been relegated and lie a full 42 points behind Cork Constitution, but they are sure to give this Munster derby their all. Defensive issues remain for the Light Blues, with an average of 33 points conceded per game.
Cork Constitution’s hopes of earning a home semi-final took a hit with last week’s 34-29 loss at home to UCD. Injured captain Aidan Moynihan’s absence again means Niall Kenneally shifts to out-half.
Greg Higgins and Ross O’Neill are both promoted from the Cork Con bench, the latter trading places with Mark Stafford in the back row. Jonny Holland’s men won 33-16 when the sides met in October and should bounce back to winning ways.
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win
LANSDOWNE (8th) v YOUNG MUNSTER (4th), Aviva Stadium back pitch
Preview: A four-try second half salvo earned Lansdowne a bonus point against Terenure College, and Declan Fassbender’s side will want to start where they left off at Lakelands. Young Munster come calling, looking to avenge October’s 20-13 defeat.
Dan Murphy returns at number 8 for Lansdowne, meaning captain Jack O’Sullivan switches to the openside. Connor O’Sullivan and Sean Galvin are also back from Ireland Sevens duty, bolstering a back-line missing the injured Michael Silvester.
Fourth-placed Munsters, who have won three of their last four games, make two personnel changes. Conor Hayes reverts to full-back, in place of Munster call-up Patrick Campbell, and Fionn Gibbons and Stephen Lyons feature at outside centre and on the left wing respectively.
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win
SHANNON (9th) v CLONTARF (1st), Thomond Park back pitch
Preview: Shannon failed to score a try when they last met Clontarf, but Stephen Keogh’s charges continue to look an improved force of late. They came through a real ‘dog fight’ to beat local rivals Garryowen 26-16 last week.
“Our set piece was really strong, our scrum was good, and we were good in the contact zone in defence,” said Keogh, whose five personnel changes include a start at number 8 for Munster Academy back rower Daniel Okeke.
John O’Sullivan switches to scrum half where he starts opposite Ben Murphy. Clontarf will field a much-changed back-line with full-back Aitzol Arenzana King back from Ireland Sevens duty, while Mikey McGiff will join captain Matt D’Arcy in a new-look centre pairing.
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win
UCD (7th) v TERENURE COLLEGE (2nd), UCD Bowl
Preview: James Culhane, last year’s Ireland Under-20 Grand Slam-winning number 8, will pack down at blindside flanker for UCD’s home clash with Terenure. The students are seventh in the table, three points clear of the bottom two.
Chris Hennessy, Rob Gilsenan, who joins Michael Moloney at half-back, and Ross Deegan are College’s other changes. Second-placed Terenure were comprehensive 58-8 winners when they entertained UCD back in October.
‘Nure will want a strong performance to take them into next Friday’s Energia Bateman Cup final. Matthew Caffrey replaces captain Harrison Brewer in the second row, while Conall Boomer is back from injury to join the replacements bench.
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Terenure College to win
BALLYNAHINCH (5th) v DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (6th), Ballymacarn Park, 4pm
Preview: In a game that will be live streamed in a co-production between the IRFU and The Club Scene Podcast, Ballynahinch and Dublin University are both striving to close the gap on Young Munster who currently occupy that last semi-final spot.
Ulster’s Matthew Rea continues in the ‘Hinch back row, while Cormac Izuchukwu features at flock. Zack McCall captains in the absence of Tom Donnan, and Ulster Academy scrum half Conor McKee will look to provide impact off the bench.
With their own skipper Louis O’Reilly also ruled out, Ted Walsh continues at scrum half for Dublin University. Thomas Connolly and Felix Campbell are their only changes up front as Trinity try to end a winless run that stretches back to November.
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Ballynahinch to win