Jump to main content



Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Division 1A: Round 4 Previews

Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Division 1A: Round 4 Previews

Ulster's Shea O'Brien will feature for City of Armagh when they resume their Energia All-Ireland League campaign at home to Dublin University ©INPHO/Bryan Keane

Division 1A leaders Lansdowne and Clontarf both face big games in Munster as the Energia All-Ireland League’s top flight resumes with some blockbuster fixtures.


Saturday, November 4 –

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated:

BALLYNAHINCH (7th) v SHANNON (4th), Ballymacarn Park

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Ballynahinch: LWL; Shannon: WWL
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Ballynahinch: Points: Conor Rankin 18; Tries: Claytan Milligan 3; Shannon: Points: Mike Cooke 22; Tries: Daniel Okeke 2

Preview: Ballynahinch had plenty to spare when they last hosted Shannon, winning by 33 points in October of last year. However, the Limerick men, albeit disappointed with their most recent performance against City of Armagh, have looked a much-improved outfit of late.

Aaron Sexton, Ben Moxham and Reuben Crothers are on provincial duty, but Ulster Academy duo George Saunderson and Ethan Graham will both start for ‘Hinch. Their line-up also includes young number 8 Bryn Ward, son of former Ulster and Ireland flanker Andy.

Shannon captain Lee Nicholas bemoaned the ‘individual errors’ which left his side playing catch-up against Armagh in the last round. Ireland Under-19 international Stephen Kiely moves into midfield to partner Harry Long, while Tony Cusack, David Maher and Kelvin Brown will all start up front.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 8, 2022: Ballynahinch 41 Shannon 8, Ballymacarn Park; Saturday, April 1, 2023: Shannon 26 Ballynahinch 10, Thomond Park back pitch

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Shannon to win

CITY OF ARMAGH (5th) v DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (10th), Palace Grounds

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: City of Armagh: LLW; Dublin University: LLL
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – City of Armagh: Points: Brayden Laing 22; Tries: Neil Faloon, Tim McNiece 2 each; Dublin University: Points: Harry Colbert 15; Tries: Zach Baird, Davy Colbert, Jules Fenelon, Taylor Gleeson, Diarmuid McCormack 1 each

Preview: With Tim McNiece and Ulster’s Jude Postlethwaite both injured, Shea O’Brien switches to centre to partner Matthew Hooks for City of Armagh’s second home game of the campaign. They had a well-timed first ever Division 1A win, away to Shannon, before the Halloween week.

Chris Parker’s men are also boosted by the presence of Ulster Academy back rower James McNabney and fit-again former club captain Chris Colvin on their bench. Visitors Dublin University sit bottom of the table and are conceding an average of 30.33 points per match.

Yet, Tony Smeeth’s young guns are always capable of producing a big performance on their day. Cormac King comes in at scrum half behind an unchanged Diarmuid McCormack-led pack, and winger John-Francis Campbell and new South African centre Victor Allen complete the changes.

Recent League Meetings – N/A

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: City of Armagh to win

CORK CONSTITUTION (3rd) v LANSDOWNE (1st), Temple Hill

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Cork Constitution: WLW; Lansdowne: WWW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Cork Constitution: Points: James Taylor 36; Tries: Daniel Hurley, James Taylor 2 each; Lansdowne: Points: Rory Parata 20; Tries: Rory Parata 4

Preview: Two titans of Division 1A. They have nine league titles between them, but the most recent one came in 2019 when Cork Constitution were crowned champions. Their 20-point dismissal of current holders Terenure College suggests they are capable of a return to those glory days.

Showing the strength of Con’s squad, they are able to bring in Rob Hedderman, Danny Sheahan and Sean Duffy as starters this week. Jack Kelleher’s absence sees John Forde switch to the blindside flanker berth.

Lansdowne are humming along nicely thanks to three bonus point wins on the trot. Ruairi Clarke replaces Luke O’Connor in the second row. Temple Hill is a familiar setting for their in-form centre Rory Parata, who was raised in Passage West and began his rugby career at Dolphin and Sunday’s Well.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 12, 2022: Cork Constitution 36 Lansdowne 25, Temple Hill; Saturday, February 18, 2023: Lansdowne 25 Cork Constitution 19, Aviva Stadium back pitch

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win

UCD (6th) v TERENURE COLLEGE (8th), UCD Bowl

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: UCD: LWL; Terenure College: WLL
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – UCD: Points: Michael Moloney 36; Tries: Chris Cosgrave, Ross Deegan 2 each; Terenure College: Points: Aran Egan 14; Tries: Luke Clohessy 1

Preview: These sides have the same record with two losses out of three. A brace of bonus points has UCD further up the ladder in sixth place. Their goal-kicking scrum half Michael Moloney is the division’s joint-top scorer so far with 36 points from 14 successful kicks.

Andrew Sparrow, Sean O’Brien and Conor O’Tighearnaigh are added to the UCD pack for tomorrow, with the latter bringing the Leinster Academy representation to four. Terenure have freshened up their starting XV, most notably in the back-line.

Colm de Buitléar shifts to full-back, with Adam La Grue going to the left wing, and current Ireland Under-20 international Sam Berman joins Peter Sylvester in a new-look centre pairing for ‘Nure. Stephen O’Neill deputises at scrum half, as both Alan Bennie and Fintan Gunne are unavailable.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 29, 2022: Terenure College 58 UCD 5, UCD Bowl; Saturday, March 4, 2023: UCD 10 Terenure College 32, UCD Bowl

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Terenure College to win

YOUNG MUNSTER (9th) v CLONTARF (2nd), Tom Clifford Park

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Young Munster: LLW; Clontarf: WWW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Young Munster: Points: Ruadhan Quinn 10; Tries: Ruadhan Quinn 2; Clontarf: Points: Conor Kelly 30; Tries: Dylan Donnellan 4

Preview: Like Armagh, Young Munster produced a welcome first win a fortnight ago, coming away from Trinity with four hard-earned points. Ruadhan Quinn’s Munster call-up means James Horrigan comes into the back row. A changed tight five includes Keynan Knox and Tom Goggin.

James O’Brien and Shane O’Leary, the former Grenoble and Connacht player, are the only changes behind the scrum, with O’Leary lining out at full-back. This is a repeat of last April’s semi-final which saw Clontarf claw their way past the Cookies on a 13-12 scoreline.

‘Tarf’s last visit to Tom Clifford Park ended in a 24-19 defeat twelve months ago. Andy Wood’s side will be without captain Dylan Donnellan and Ben Murphy, who are both on Leinster’s bench, but should have enough strength in depth to extend their winning start to the season.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, February 18, 2023: Clontarf 27 Young Munster 24, Castle Avenue; Saturday, April 22, 2023: Semi-Final: Clontarf 13 Young Munster 12, Castle Avenue

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Clontarf to win