Dublin: 14°C Tuesday 28 June 2022

Clontarf look to roar on, Ireland U20 call-ups and all this weekend's AIL previews

Dave Mervyn looks ahead to the latest round of fixtures.

Men’s All-Ireland League Division 1A

Kick-off 2.30pm Saturday unless stated

CLONTARF (1st) v UCC (10th), Castle Avenue

the-clontarf-team-huddle-after-the-game A general view of the Clontarf team huddle. Source: Tom Maher/INPHO

Clontarf are heavy favourites to wrap up their first dozen league matches with an 11th victory. It has been very difficult for teams to derail ‘Tarf’s pack, especially with Angus Lloyd controlling matters from scrum half.

The elevation of Jack O’Sullivan and Daniel Squires to the Ireland Under-20 squad will give UCC a timely boost, and they did show definite signs of improvement against Cork Constitution last week.

However, leaking points continues to be a big problem for Neil Lucey’s youngsters, and whether through their maul and going wide, Clontarf have the firepower to extend their winning run.


Rory Butler has provided the impact off Ballynahinch’s bench, with three tries in two games. A first win still eludes them but they did battle back for a losing bonus point against Terenure College.

Reigning champions Cork Constitution got the result against UCC – 24-7 in front of a big home crowd – which keeps them just tucked in behind the top four. Number 8 David Hyland continues to impress.

‘Hinch gave Con a serious test back in November, losing out 19-17 after leading by five points at half-time. So, Brian Hickey’s charges are unlikely to be complacent against a side still scrapping to get out of the bottom two.

LANSDOWNE (2nd) v GARRYOWEN (7th), Aviva Stadium back pitch

Lansdowne and Garryowen’s two top scorers, out-halves Charlie Tector and Tony Butler, have both been included in Ireland’s Under-20 Six Nations squad. Tector has been playing at centre most recently.

The headquarters club are on course to finish in the top two, but cannot afford a repeat of last week’s 32-27 defeat at UCD. Connacht’s Peter Sullivan has made the most of his game-time for Lansdowne, tallying up five tries.

Lowering Lansdowne’s colours on the back of beating Young Munster would be huge for Garryowen. Head coach Mike Sherry commented: “We’re still ambitious and want to get into the play-offs. It’s all hands on deck and it will require another big effort to get a victory up in Dublin.”

charlie-tector-passes-the-ball Charlie Tector on the ball last week. Source: Tom Maher/INPHO

TERENURE COLLEGE (3rd) v UCD (8th), Lakelands Park

In-form Terenure College make two changes for the visit of UCD. The experienced Stephen O’Neill, who captains the side, and Luke Clohessy come in on the right wing and at openside flanker respectively.

UCD are without the provincial players who served them so well last week against Lansdowne, including two-try Munster scrum half Paddy Patterson. David Ryan pairs up with James Tarrant in the centre.

In total there are seven personnel changes for the students, who bring in Luke Maloney, Ross Deegan, Tim Corkery, Richie Fahey, Gerry Hill, Jack Gardiner and Jack Coolican. Leinster Academy back rower Sean O’Brien shifts to number 8.

YOUNG MUNSTER (4th) v DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (6th), Tom Clifford Park

There are five personnel changes to the Dublin University team this week. Joe McCarthy’s senior debut for Leinster sees Ulster’s Harry Sheridan revert to the second row alongside Jack Dunne.

Luis Faria, Liam McMahon, Bart Vermeulen, Thomas Connolly and Anthony Ryan freshen up Trinity’s starting XV. They are chasing a season’s double over Young Munster after November’s dominant 38-3 home win.

The Cookies are smarting from that derby reversal at the hands of Garryowen. Their talented young out-half Evan Cusack is out in front as the division’s leading scorer, his 14-point haul last week taking him through the 100-point mark.

Division 1B

HIGHFIELD (2nd) v BANBRIDGE (9th), Woodleigh Park

Highfield are hoping to celebrate industrious flanker Ronán O’Sullivan’s call-up to the Ireland Under-20 squad with a first win in four games. Results-wise, they have suffered a mid-season slump.

After two defeats and a draw, this YouTube-live streamed game is a vital one for the Corkmen. Banbridge earned a losing bonus point against Highfield in November and they look a much-improved side of late.

Having run Old Wesley close last week, Bann head coach Mark McDowell said: “It’s another big challenge. Highfield will be hurting after that defeat at Armagh, but we’ve won on the road this season and we can do it again.”

MALONE (8th) v CITY OF ARMAGH (6th), Gibson Park

* Covid-19-affected match cancelled – 0-0. Both teams are awarded two points

a-general-view-of-the-pitch Another busy weekend of AIL action lies ahead. Source: Tom Maher/INPHO

NAAS (5th) v SHANNON (4th), Forenaughts

Naas make five personnel changes as they look to get straight back to winning ways. They had three cousins lining out against St. Mary’s College – captain Peter Osborne, Cillian Dempsey and Leinster’s Jamie Osborne.

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Matt Stapleton, Sam Cahill and scrum half Connor Halpenny return behind the scrum, with Connor Johnson and Patrick O’Flaherty both handed starts up front for the Cobras.

Shannon, who lost 35-29 to Naas earlier this season, have sharpened up their defence since then. Forwards coach Stephen Keogh said: “The guys dug deep late on against Malone (last week), defended really well. Didn’t give them a score, it’s important we show that resilience right to the end.”

NAVAN (10th) v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (3rd), Balreask Old 

Navan are missing lock Colm Carpenter following the leg injury he sustained against Old Belvedere. Last week’s losing bonus point could prove important in their quest to move out of the bottom two.

St. Mary’s College are unbeaten in the last three rounds. They have largely kept faith with the side that won 27-27 against Naas, with only Matt Timmons and Padraig Dundon promoted from the bench.

It could be another try-fest at Balreask Old, with Mary’s having won 45-26 when they hosted Navan back in November. It was six tries to four in the end, and Mary’s number 8 Ronan Watters bagged a well-taken brace.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 5, 2019: Navan 18 St. Mary’s College 23, Balreask Old; Saturday, November 27, 2021: St. Mary’s College 45 Navan 26, Templeville Road

OLD WESLEY (1st) v OLD BELVEDERE (7th), Energia Park

This Dublin 4 derby will be live streamed on Old Wesley’s YouTube page, as Morgan Lennon’s men aim for their sixth straight win. That run kicked off with a 34-18 victory at nearby Old Belvedere.

Belvedere come looking for revenge, and their attack is back firing on all cylinders after a five-try display at Navan. Two of their tight five crossed the whitewash – Ryan McMahon and Will McDonald.

Wesley’s powerful pack is led by 6ft 5in lock Iain McGann, who got on the scoresheet via a loose Banbridge lineout last week. He is a club stalwart, playing with them since the age of six. This is his third year as captain.


Cashel v Old Crescent, Spafield
MU Barnhall v Dolphin, Parsonstown
Nenagh Ormond v Ballymena, New Ormond Park
Rainey Old Boys v Buccaneers, Hatrick Park
UL Bohemians v Queen’s University, Annacotty


Ballina v Dungannon, Heffernan Park
Belfast Harlequins v Sligo, Deramore Park
Blackrock College v Wanderers, Stradbrook
Galway Corinthians v Malahide, Corinthian Park
Greystones v Galwegians, Dr Hickey Park


City of Derry v Midleton, Judge’s Road
Enniscorthy v Bangor, Alcast Park
Omagh Academicals v Clonmel, Thomas Mellon Playing Fields
Sunday’s Well v Skerries, Musgrave Park
Tullamore v Bruff, Spollanstown.

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

Bernard Jackman, Murray Kinsella, and Gavan Casey glance ahead to the Six Nations, chat about the Irish provinces’ progress in Europe, then discuss the latest off-the-pitch drama in Welsh rugby.

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