Jump to main content



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

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

Laois native Fionn McWey is pictured winning a lineout for Old Belvedere during last season's Division 1B campaign ©INPHO/James Crombie

With Garryowen, Queen’s University and Blackrock College added to the mix, the entertainment value and quality of rugby could get even higher in Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Division 1B this season.


Saturday, October 7

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –


Preview: Garryowen appear to be heading in the right direction again, steered by director of rugby John Staunton and coaches Neil Cronin (attack), Neil Lucey (forwards) and Mark Butler (defence). The hard work in pre-season paid off with qualification for the Munster Senior Challenge Cup final.

Highfield will fancy their chances of claiming the Light Blues’ scalp though, especially as they have won 15 of their last 18 home games in Division 1B. Full-back Jamie Shanahan, who has made the move from Dooradoyle, could face his former club, while Miah Cronin remains a key figure at number 8.

Looking forward to the Munster derby, Garryowen captain Jamie Heuston said: “With the new coaching team, the Munster Senior Cup games gave us a good basis to know where we are going into the AIL. I think we’re in a good place, so we’re excited to get the league campaign underway against Highfield.”

Recent League Meetings – N/A

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Highfield to win

OLD BELVEDERE v NAAS, Ollie Campbell Park

Preview: Hosting Naas in the first round, Old Belvedere will field eight of the starting XV from last season’s promotion play-off semi-final defeat to Highfield. Belvedere, who finished second in the table, are captained this year by scrum half Peter O’Beirne.

Conall Bird teams up with New Zealander Jayden Beckett in ‘Belvo’s midfield, while Wicklow product Niklas Moelders starts at openside flanker and former Lansdowne back rower James Doyle is on the bench.

With cap milestones this weekend for Paul Monahan (200) and Adam Coyle (100), Naas’ new captain Bryan Croke said: “We’ve a lot of hunger coming back in. Pre-season’s been good, we’ve recruited quite well and the new players have really bought into what we’re trying to build.”

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 15, 2022: Old Belvedere 25 Naas 22, Ollie Campbell Park; Saturday, March 25, 2023: Naas 25 Old Belvedere 17, Forenaughts

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Old Belvedere to win


Preview: A long-awaited debut for Queen’s University in Division 1B, and it comes just six months into their partnership with Ulster Rugby to support the player development pathway at QUB. That should mean they are able to draw on some of the provincial Academy’s leading talent.

Old Wesley’s most recent match up in Belfast was a 17-all draw with Malone last February, while they have not played Queen’s since November 2014 when both clubs were in Division 2A. 33-year-old out-half Ian Cassidy is the only survivor in the Wesley team from that day.

Centre Fergus Jemphrey, who has played World Series Sevens for Ireland, will make his AIL debut for Wesley after transferring south from Ballynahinch. Teenage lock Billy Corrigan, last season’s Ireland Under-18 Clubs & Schools team captain, is another notable newcomer for Morgan Lennon’s men.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, January 25, 2014: Queen’s University 18 Old Wesley 10, Dub Lane; Saturday, November 8, 2014: Old Wesley 31 Queen’s University 21, Donnybrook

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Old Wesley to win


Preview: Former Young Munster favourite Conor Hayes make his league bow for St. Mary’s College. The 24-year-old Limerick man will line out at full-back, joining forces with Leandro Ramirez and Brazilian international Daniel Sancery in a dangerous looking back-three.

This is former Ireland international Sean Cronin’s second season in charge of St. Mary’s, who are captained by Ronan Watters from number 8. Their first round visitors, Buccaneers, have a new head coach in Paul Byrne. They were 23-9 winners of the last season’s corresponding fixture.

Buccs have lost Ruairi Byrne and Martin Staunton to retirement, amongst other departing players. But the Pirates still have a talented crop, and give starts to the Connacht Academy’s Matthew Victory and Daniel Hawkshaw, and newly-arrived backs Mark Earle and Conor O’Shaughnessy.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 26, 2022: St. Mary’s College 9 Buccaneers 23, Templeville Road; Saturday, January 28, 2023: Buccaneers 31 St. Mary’s College 24, Dubarry Park

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


Preview: Munster hooker Scott Buckley will start in a UCC pack that contains Ireland underage internationals Jacob Sheahan and Sean Edogbo. There is also a place on the left wing for James Wixted, PBC Cork’s hat-trick hero from last March’s Munster Schools Senior Cup final.

Fresh from their promotion from Division 2A, Blackrock College have brought in the recently-retired Ian Madigan to assist as attack coach. Former Ulster prospect Graham Curtis and Oliver Coffey, an Ireland U-19 international just this year, are new faces in the ‘Rock back-line.

James Burke, Josh Dixon and former Sligo player Matthew Cosgrove form the Dubliners’ back row. Jack Gardiner has moved across from UCD and is on the replacements bench. Held in reserve by UCC is Munster Academy full-back Ben O’Connor, who only turned 19 in August.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, April 11, 2015: UCC 15 Blackrock College 15, the Mardyke; Saturday, April 30, 2016: Division 1B Promotion/Relegation Play-Off Final: Blackrock College 28 UCC 30, Stradbrook

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: UCC to win

Keep up to date with all the latest news in our dedicated website hub at www.irishrugby.ie/energiaail and follow #EnergiaAIL on social media channels.