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

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

Cork Constitution and Shannon renew rivalries this afternoon as the Energia All-Ireland League resumes with a full schedule of round 16 fixtures ©INPHO/Ben Brady

While Clontarf and Terenure College lead the charge, the semi-final line-up is still to be decided in Division 1A with three rounds remaining. A number of clubs are also battling to avoid the relegation play-offs.

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Saturday, March 25

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –

CLONTARF (1st) v BALLYNAHINCH (5th), Castle Avenue

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Clontarf: WWWWWLLWWWLWWWW; Ballynahinch: WWLLWLLWWWWLWLW

Preview: Michael Courtney and Steve Crosbie return to the Clontarf back-line for the start of this final block of regular season games. A home semi-final is tantalisingly close for Andy Wood’s men, but fifth-placed Ballynahinch have their own play-off hopes.

Their recent 36-15 win over Dublin University has Ballynahinch just five points outside of the top four. They gave ‘Tarf a much closer contest than October’s 28-3 defeat suggests, leaking three final quarter tries.

Rory Butler, Ryan Wilson and Ulster Academy scrum half Conor McKee come into ‘Hinch’s back-line. Tom Donnan resumes the captaincy, while a titanic back row battle awaits with Matthew Rea, Zack McCall and Bradley Luney facing Mick Kearney, JJ O’Dea and Tony Ryan.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, April 2, 2022: Clontarf 40 Ballynahinch 14, Castle Avenue; Saturday, October 15, 2022: Ballynahinch 3 Clontarf 28, Ballymacarn Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win

CORK CONSTITUTION (3rd) v SHANNON (9th), Temple Hill

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Cork Constitution: WLWWWWWLDWWWLLW; Shannon: LLLLWLWLWLLLWWL

Preview: One more victory should be enough to seal Cork Constitution’s place in the semi-finals. As things stand they would travel to Terenure College. For today’s Munster derby on Leeside, there is some squad rotation by the hosts.

Former USA Under-20 call-up Michael Hand and forwards Brendan Quinlan and Eoin Quilter are all promoted from the bench, while talismanic captain Aidan Moynihan returns at out-half and Jack Kelleher reverts to the back row.

Aran Hehir’s inclusion at scrum half for Shannon sees John O’Sullivan go back to the back-field. Stephen Keogh’s young side remain second-from-bottom, but are boosted by the return of Darragh McSweeney and skipper Ronan Coffey to the tight five.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, April 13, 2019: Shannon 19 Cork Constitution 34, Thomond Park back pitch; Saturday, October 15, 2022: Shannon 21 Cork Constitution 36, Thomond Park back pitch

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win

DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (6th) v LANSDOWNE (7th), College Park

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Dublin University: WWWWLWLLDLLLLLL; Lansdowne: LLLWLLWLLWWLWLL

Preview: Leinster Academy youngster Max O’Reilly will feature at full-back for a Dublin University team scrapping for a much-needed win. Eight losses in the last nine rounds have drawn Trinity away from the business end of the table.

Seventh-placed Lansdowne, who trail the students by four points, are also hoping to put some recent reversals behind them. They will field an unchanged team, while Conor McMenamin, Donough Lawlor and Jack Matthews strengthen the bench.

27-17 winners at headquarters earlier in the season, the students welcome back captain Louis O’Reilly at scrum half. Harry Colbert, their Fraser McMullen Cup-winning hero from last year, gets the nod outside him, and Max Dunne slots back in at lock.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 19, 2022: Dublin University 15 Lansdowne 20, College Park; Saturday, October 15, 2022: Lansdowne 17 Dublin University 27, Aviva Stadium back pitch

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Dublin University to win

TERENURE COLLEGE (2nd) v GARRYOWEN (10th), Lakelands Park

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Terenure College: WWWWWWWWLWWLLWW; Garryowen: LLLLLLLLLLLWLLL

Preview: Back on league duty after winning their first Energia Bateman Cup, Terenure College have that all-important top two finish in their sights. Garryowen make the trip with only pride to play for given confirmation of their relegation.

Leinster Academy prop Marcus Hanan and captain Harrison Brewer are the only changes to the Terenure team that won 32-10 at UCD most recently in the top flight. ‘Nure’s strength up front has been the backbone of their title bid.

The availability of Munster Academy talent Tony Butler, who is set to start at out-half, should lift Garryowen’s performance. Nicky Greene and Tim Ferguson are the two other changes to the side that went down fighting against Cork Con.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 19, 2022: Garryowen 17 Terenure College 18, Dooradoyle; Saturday, October 15, 2022: Garryowen 25 Terenure College 38, Dooradoyle

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Terenure College to win

YOUNG MUNSTER (4th) v UCD (8th), Tom Clifford Park

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Young Munster: LWWLLWWWWLWWLWW; UCD: LLLLLWLWLLLWWWL

Preview: Two teams with contrasting missions for these final three rounds. Young Munster, who are aiming for their third straight win, have a semi-final berth to secure and need to stave off Ballynahinch’s challenge in fifth place.

Munster duo Patrick Campbell and Dan Goggin are restored to the Cookies’ back-line, while Michael Treacy and Conor Moloney both start in the pack. Jack Lyons shows his versatility in switching from scrum half to out-half.

Ahead of next week’s Colour match, UCD are able to bring in Chris Cosgrave and Tim Corkery at full-back and out-half respectively. The Leinster Academy trio of Jack Boyle, James Culhane and Sean O’Brien all start up front, with the latter’s move to Connacht announced in recent days.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 15, 2022: Young Munster 27 UCD 20, Tom Clifford Park; Saturday, October 15, 2022: UCD 10 Young Munster 23, UCD Bowl

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Young Munster to win