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Lansdowne call on Leinster stars plus the rest of this weekend's AIL previews

Dave Mervyn looks ahead to the latest round of fixtures.

Men’s AIL Division 1A

Kick-off 2.30pm Saturday unless stated

DIVISION 1A:

CLONTARF v GARRYOWEN, Castle Avenue

Clontarf would have wanted to play on through the festive period given their recent form. Especially talismanic lock Cormac Daly who has scored five tries in his last three games.

Winning 17-0 at Garryowen last time out was a real statement of intent from Andy Wood’s men. They will be prepared for a backlash from the Light Blues, who deserved something out of the game given their endeavour.

Garryowen can look back to February 2020 for some inspiration, when they emerged as 32-13 winners at Castle Avenue. Their current leading try scorer, winger Colm Quilligan, grabbed one of their four tries on the day.

LANSDOWNE v BALLYNAHINCH, Aviva Stadium back pitch

michael-silvester-with-tomos-williams Leinster's Michael Silvestre starts for Lansdowne. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Back on league duty after securing their Bateman Cup final place, Lansdowne strengthen their front row for the visit of bottom-placed Ballynahinch. Leinster’s Peter Dooley returns at loosehead.

Two more provincial caps, Michael Silvester and Peter Sullivan, come into a reshuffled back-line which has Ireland U20 prospect Charlie Tector – usually an out-half – at inside centre.

‘Hinch raised their spirits by winning the Ulster Rugby Premiership before Christmas. Director of rugby Tim Morton said: “With a trophy in the cabinet against a strong Queen’s team, there’s no better way to regroup and go hard at the second half of the AIL.”

TERENURE COLLEGE v CORK CONSTITUTION, Lakelands Park

A huge match for both clubs as Terenure College aim for a very rare season’s double over Cork Constitution. Luke Clohessy’s second try in as many games helped ‘Nure prevail 16-12 at Temple Hill.

Winger Sam Coghlan Murray and prop Andy Keating come in as ‘Nure’s two changes. Cork Con sharpened up for tomorrow by winning the Munster Senior Plate last week, running five tries past Shannon.

Terenure number 8 Jordan Coghlan is expecting a tough encounter, saying: “Everyone is really looking forward to it, getting stuck into this weekend and getting stuck into the second half of the season. Seeing where we end up towards the end.”

UCC v DUBLIN UNIVERSITY, The Mardyke

marcus-kiely-is-tackled-by-luke-fitzgerald Marcus Kiely has been in strong form for Dublin University. Source: Tom Maher/INPHO

It was a busy festive period for some of UCC’s leading lights, with new Munster contracts for Scott Buckley, Jack O’Sullivan and Alex Kendellen, while fellow forward Jack Kelleher captained the Munster Development team.

Results on the pitch have been hard to come by and they were very much second best away to Dublin University in the last round. 21-point out-half Mick O’Kennedy pulled the strings in a runaway 48-8 home win.

Trinity head to the Mardyke for the return leg, entering a crucial few weeks for the top-four aspirations. Kildare man Marcus ‘Stretch’ Kiely has scored two tries in three games, having moved to the centre.

YOUNG MUNSTER v UCD, Tom Clifford Park

patrick-campbell Patrick Campbell has been named on the bench for Young Munster. Source: Tom Maher/INPHO

Conor Hayes, the division’s joint-top try scorer with eight tries, returns on the right wing for Young Munster’s rematch with UCD. Jason Kiely, Pa Ryan and scrum-half Donnacha O’Callaghan also come into the back-line.

Mark O’Mara and Dan Walsh slot back into the pack, while the Cookies’ bench includes Munster talents Patrick Campbell and Conor Moloney, who are both in contention for the Ireland U20 Six Nations squad.

Ben Brownlee, another of the Ireland U20 prospects, rejoins James Tarrant in UCD’s midfield. Lock Mark Morrissey and Leinster Academy flanker Sean O’Brien are the other players brought into the side that lost 18-12 at Belfield.

DIVISION 1B:

NAAS v NAVAN, Forenaughts, Friday, 8pm

paulie-tolofua-runs-in-for-a-try Paulie Tolofua is back in the Naas team. Source: Presseye/Freddie Parkinson/INPHO

There were just five points in it when Naas claimed a 22-17 verdict at Balreask Old before Christmas. Winger Sam Cahill’s first senior try helped the Cobras to make it three wins on the trot.

For tonight’s home fixture, powerful ball carrier Paulie Tolofua returns at the base of the Naas scrum. Front rowers Conor Doyle and John Sutton are the two other changes.

Full-back Paddy Fox sped through for his fifth try of the campaign in the first game, earning a losing bonus point for battling Navan. Harry Hester, Mark Farrell and Ronan Meegan are promoted from the bench, while prop Niall Farrelly also starts.

HIGHFIELD v SHANNON, Woodleigh Park

Highfield are live-streaming their home date with Shannon on YouTube, a huge game in the context of their season as they look to right the wrongs of last month’s disappointing 6-0 reversal.

Two John O’Sullivan penalties did the business for Shannon, whose head coach Pat O’Connor said: “Highfield are the standard bearer in this league, it was a massive win. We showed a lot of grit in the last five minutes. We’re learning as a group to eke out wins.”

Highfield, who ran Young Munster close in the Munster Senior Cup recently, registered a 19-10 victory when they hosted Shannon in the league, just over two years ago. Ben Murphy (2) and Miah Cronin were their try scorers.

MALONE v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE, Gibson Park

You could not take your eyes off these sides’ first meeting before Christmas, it ebbed and flowed throughout with a dozen tries and an incredible 42-all final scoreline at Templeville Road.

With 10 players involved who came through the club’s minis/youth system, Malone put their injury woes behind to earn an action-packed draw. They followed up last week by reaching the Ulster Senior Cup quarter-finals.

The points kept Mary’s right in contention for the play-offs, moving them up to third. Unfortunately they have lost talented youngster Mick O’Gara to a six-month stint Stateside with Utah Warriors, which breaks up his impressive centre partnership with Myles Carey.

OLD BELVEDERE v BANBRIDGE, Ollie Campbell Park

john-mckee Hooker John McKee returns for Old Belvedere. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Old Belvedere are much-changed compared to the team that lost 18-13 at Banbridge last time out. Gavin Nugent, Jack Gilheany and out-half Tommy Whittle are selected to start in the backs.

Leinster Academy hooker John McKee, who turns 22 next month, is one of five changes up front. Bann’s maiden win of the campaign was a huge shot in the arm, especially coming just before the mid-season break.

Bann head coach Mark McDowell commented: “I felt we exerted pressure throughout. We didn’t give away penalties and from their 22 we forced them to exit, we just kept pinning them back. That was the secret of the win – hopefully it’s the spark that pushes us on.”

OLD WESLEY  v CITY OF ARMAGH, Energia Park

Like a number of other clubs in the last round, Old Wesley pulled off a hard-fought victory, edging out City of Armagh 19-16 at the Palace Grounds. David Poff ran in his third try in as many games.

Morgan Lennon’s men did the double over Armagh during the 2019/20 season, but the Ulster side return to Dublin in battle-hardened form, following last week’s Bateman Cup semi-final against Lansdowne.

For tomorrow’s YouTube-streamed game, Armagh have made six changes, including half-backs Romain Morrow and Gerard Treanor and the lock pairing of John Glasgow, an Ireland Under-20 prospect, and James Crummie.

DIVISION 2A

UL Bohemians v Old Crescent, UL Arena, Friday, 7.30pm
Buccaneers v Queen’s University, Dubarry Park
Cashel v MU Barnhall, Spafield
Nenagh Ormond v Dolphin, New Ormond Park
Rainey Old Boys v Ballymena, Hatrick Park

DIVISION 2B

Galwegians v Sligo, Crowley Park, 2pm
Ballina v Galway Corinthians, Heffernan Park
Belfast Harlequins v Dungannon, Deramore Park
Blackrock College v Malahide, Stradbrook
Greystones v Wanderers, Dr. Hickey Park

DIVISION 2C

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


Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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