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

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

St. Mary's College lock Daniel Leane is pictured in possession during their third round win over UCC at Templeville Road ©Gemma Dolan/John Crothers Sports Photography

The leading four teams in Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Division 1B are all on the road this Saturday, with pacesetters St. Mary’s College visiting a Naas side that has lost their last two games.


Saturday, November 4 –

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated:


Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Blackrock College: WLL; Queen’s University: LWW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Blackrock College: Points: Matthew Cosgrove 15; Tries: Matthew Cosgrove 3; Queen’s University: Points: James Humphreys 36; Tries: Alexander Clarke, Jonny Hunter 3 each

Preview: The two promoted clubs from last season know each other very well, and played out two epic encounters in the last year that resulted in one-point away wins. Blackrock relied on a strong first half to prevail 30-29 at Dub Lane, and Queen’s exacted revenge, winning 28-27 at Stradbrook in March.

Interestingly, a converted try from Graham Curtis proved to be the match winner for the students that day, and he is now resident on the right wing for ‘Rock. James Blaney’s men are aiming to bounce back from two narrow losses to Highfield and Old Belvedere.

Connacht’s Gavin Thornbury starts again in the second row for the south Dubliners. While pleased with back-to-back bonus point victories, Queen’s captain Alexander Clarke wants a more consistent set of performances in this next block as they try to ‘keep putting markers down in this league’.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 29, 2022: Queen’s University 29 Blackrock College 30, Dub Lane; Saturday, March 4, 2023: Blackrock College 27 Queen’s University 28, Stradbrook

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Blackrock College to win

BUCCANEERS (10th) v OLD BELVEDERE (6th), Dubarry Park

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Buccaneers: LLL; Old Belvedere: LLW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Buccaneers: Points: Stephen Mannion 21; Tries: Cian McCann, Matthew Victory 2 each; Old Belvedere: Points: Mick O’Kennedy 13; Tries: Calum Dowling, Jack Keating, Peter O’Beirne 2 each

Preview: The only team to not register a point during the opening three rounds, Buccaneers will need some defensive improvements if they are to get the better of Old Belvedere. One win could be the catalyst to turn things around for Paul Byrne’s young team, who have had some bright moments.

Forwards James Kelly and Danny Qualter have overcome their injuries to start for Buccs, while Old Belvedere travel to the midlands with a mostly settled squad. Fionn McWey is the only change in the second row, replacing Connor Owende who is moving on to pastures new in London.

Owende’s final game for Belvedere saw him sign off with a try in an action-packed 43-40 triumph over Blackrock. ‘Belvo do not have a great recent record at Dubarry Park, where they lost 20-12 back in 2019 and 24-13 last year.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 29, 2022: Buccaneers 24 Old Belvedere 13, Dubarry Park; Saturday, March 4, 2023: Old Belvedere 34 Buccaneers 7, Ollie Campbell Park

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Buccaneers to win

GARRYOWEN (9th) v OLD WESLEY (3rd), Dooradoyle

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Garryowen: LWL; Old Wesley: WLW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Garryowen: Points: Jack Oliver 15; Tries: Jack Delaney 2; Old Wesley: Points: Ian Cassidy 38; Tries: Will Fay, Cronan Gleeson, Howard Noonan, Reuben Pim, Nathan Randles 2 each

Preview: Sitting second-from-bottom after the first run of matches is not where Garryowen envisaged they would be. It has been a tough start for their new coaching team, headed up by John Staunton, but building Dooradoyle back up to be a fortress will be key.

The Bryan Fitzgerald-led Light Blues lost their grip on a 17-point second half lead at Queen’s, and they will be all out to right the wrongs of that performance when Old Wesley come calling. Munster’s Neil Cronin, Jack Oliver and Jack Daly all start, with Connacht’s Oran McNulty getting game-time at full-back.

A second bonus point success has moved Morgan Lennon’s Wesley outfit up to to third in the table. Impressive out-half Ian Cassidy scored a try and kicked 13 points against Naas last time out. He is the division’s second top points scorer with 38 points, just three behind UCC’s Daniel Squires.

Recent League Meeting – Sunday, April 23, 2017: Promotion/Relegation Play-Off Semi-Final: Garryowen 41 Old Wesley 19, Dooradoyle

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Old Wesley to win

NAAS (7th) v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (1st), Forenaughts

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Naas: WLL; St. Mary’s College: WWW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Naas: Points: Peter Osborne 13; Tries: Donal Conroy, Fionn Higgins, Charlie Sheridan, Jack Sheridan 2 each; St. Mary’s College: Points: Mick O’Gara 35; Tries: Daniel Sancery 5

Preview: The visit of unbeaten leaders St. Mary’s to Forenaughts coincides with Naas’ honouring of their twelve centurions, players both past and present, with the awarding of specially-commissioned All-Ireland League caps for the occasion tomorrow.

Amongst others, flanker Paul Monahan is still giving his all for the Cobras, with a tremendous 202 appearances under his belt. Mary’s will be keen to spoil the party though, as they managed a year ago when a touchline Mick O’Gara conversion saw them hold on to take a 32-30 verdict.

Brazilian winger Daniel Sancery will be very much a marked man after his hat-trick of tries for Mary’s at home to UCC. Full-back Steven Kilgallen and centre Mark Fogarty are the only two changes in personnel this week, with Conor Hayes and Myles Carey reverting to the bench.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 12, 2022: Naas 30 St. Mary’s College 32, Forenaughts; Saturday, February 18, 2023: St. Mary’s College 20 Naas 27, Templeville Road

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

UCC (8th) v HIGHFIELD (2nd), the Mardyke

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: UCC: LWL; Highfield: WWW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – UCC: Points: Daniel Squires 41; Tries: Ben O’Connor, Sam O’Sullivan 2 each; Highfield: Points: Shane O’Riordan 30; Tries: Travis Coomey, Dave O’Sullivan, Jamie Shanahan 2 each

Preview: UCC captain Louis Bruce moves to full-back for this local derby, covering the absence of Ben O’Connor, the scorer of two tries against Mary’s in the previous round. The 19-year-old O’Connor is on the bench for Munster against the Dragons tomorrow and could make his senior debut.

The Cork students’ back-line welcomes back Sean Condon, the College’s reigning Sports Star of the Year for rugby, Darragh French and Cian Whooley. Pat McBarron and Jack O’Sullivan also slot into the back row. UCC lost twice to Highfield last season, leaking five tries on both occasions.

Openside flanker Mark Fitzgibbon is Highfield’s only change to the team that beat Buccaneers 36-19 in round three. Watch out for hooker Travis Coomey who touched down three times against UCC in 2022/23. He also scored tries during their recent games against Blackrock and Buccs.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 3, 2022: Highfield 29 UCC 10, Woodleigh Park; Saturday, January 21, 2023: UCC 10 Highfield 34, the Mardyke

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Highfield to win