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Dublin: 5°C Saturday 27 February 2021

Cork Con, Clontarf and Garryowen aiming to keep up 100% records

The third round of Division 1A kicks off tonight, when defending champions Lansdowne will hope to get off the mark.

Cork Constitution’s Conor Kindregan.
Cork Constitution’s Conor Kindregan.
Image: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Division 1A
(Kick-off 2.30pm Saturday unless stated)

UCD (4th) v Lansdowne (9th), Belfield Bowl, tonight, 8pm

CONALL DOHERTY AND Tom Foley come into the UCD back-line for tonight’s third round date with Lansdowne, while Ireland U20 lock Charlie Ryan will make his seasonal debut up front after playing with Leinster ‘A’ in the Celtic Cup.

The Students, who are unbeaten in two league games, are expecting a backlash from Lansdowne whose title defence has started with back-to-back defeats. James Rael’s maul effort against Garryowen has been the headquarters club’s only try in 160 minutes of rugby.

Mike Ruddock makes two changes with Ireland Sevens international Adam Leavy and former St. Mary’s second row David O’Connor, who makes his belated league debut for Lansdowne following his late withdrawal against Clontarf, both set to start. They did the double on UCD last season, scoring 76 points in the process.

Young Munster (5th) v UCC (8th), Liam Clifford Park, tonight, 8pm

Stung by a 23-10 derby defeat to Shannon, Young Munster return to Greenfields aiming for their second win of the campaign. Scrum half Stephen Kerins will start tonight following the end of Connacht Eagles’ Celtic Cup run, with Conor Hayes and Conor Phillips also added to the back-line.

Mark O’Mara and Dan Walsh come into Munsters’ pack, the latter featuring in a rejigged back row with John Foley shifting to lock. Cian Bohane, the former Cookie, moves to full-back for UCC who are smarting from their own derby loss to Cork Constitution (20-18).

Michael Clune, a try-scoring replacement last week, slots in at outside centre and Brian O’Mahony replaces Daire Feeney at number 8.

The Students’ head coach Brian Walsh said: “The Con derby gave us a lot of belief in terms of competing in the division. Munsters are always a difficult proposition. We’ve five games on the bounce, they’re all tough games for us. That’s the nature of the league.”

Clontarf (2nd) v Garryowen (3rd), Castle Avenue

This heavyweight clash brings together two of the most impressive starters in the top flight. Something has got to give after two wins and five tries apiece. The battle for midfield supremacy should be intriguing with Matt D’Arcy and Michael Courtney challenged by Peadar Collins and David McCarthy.

19-year-old Munster Academy starlet Ben Healy win don the number 10 jersey for Garryowen’s trip to the north Dubliners. He replaces the injured Jamie Gavin as one of two changes to the team that edged out Lansdowne 17-14 in round 2.

Ben Healy on his way to scoring a try Ben Healy playing for Munster 'A'. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Connacht Eagles’ Mikey Wilson comes in at blindside flanker, with Tim Ferguson moving to the engine room in place of Light Blues captain Dean Moore. Garryowen did the double on ‘Tarf last season, including a brilliant 35-30 bonus point victory at Castle Avenue.

Cork Constitution (1st) v Dubin University (7th), Temple Hill

Cork Constitution face student opposition for the second week running, fresh from closing out a thrilling 20-18 derby win over UCC. The result kept Con at the top of the table and again showed their match-winning nous at this level.

The impact off the bench of Gary Bradley and the returning Conor Kindregan was telling, and the pair are pushing hard for starts tomorrow. Con kept Trinity try-less in their two encounters last season, winning the corresponding fixture 41-6 with winger Rob Jermyn touching down twice.

Dublin University captain Colm Hogan and Robert Russell are both on two tries so far, with out-half James Fennelly the division’s second top points scorer (23 points). Centre James Moriarty is the only change to the side that drew 23-all with UCD. Frustrated by missed chances in that game, Hogan pledged that ‘next week we’ll be stronger again and finish it off’.

Terenure College (10th) v Shannon (6th), Lakelands Park

Fit-again winger Sam Coghlan Murray’s try-scoring contribution off the bench against Clontarf sees him start out wide against Shannon, who make the first trip of the season to the capital. Shannon have a win and a loss, while their opponents are yet to pick up a point.

Terenure’s two other changes see former UCD captain Jamie Glynn selected at scrum half and Cian Madden filling the loosehead berth. The big challenge for Shannon — both physically and mentally — is trying to rescale the heights of last week’s superb derby success against Young Munster.

Tom Hayes’ youngsters have some real gems in Aran Hehir, Charlie Carmody and Will Leonard. Tomorrow’s match sees former Shannon and Munster team-mates Hayes and James Blaney opposing each other. The pair are now two of the best young coaches in the All-Ireland League at 38 and 44 respectively.

Division 1B
(Kick-off 2.30pm Saturday unless stated)

Ballymena (10th) v St Mary’s College (6th), Eaton Park

Marcus Rea scores their first try Ballymena flanker Marcus Rea. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Ballymena boss Andy Graham felt last week’s 28-3 defeat to Naas was not a true reflection of his side’s performance. A solid return at set piece time and improved discipline were some of the positives to take forward into the third round.

Scrum half Michael Stronge and flanker Marcus Rea are both back from Ulster ‘A’ duty and set to start along with lock David Whann who missed the Naas match. The Braidmen will be looking to get their attack going after two try-less outings.

St Mary’s second successive trip north sees Connacht Academy recruit Conor Dean start at out-half, replacing Sean Kearns who is emigrating. Conor Toolan and Cormac Foley also come into the back-line following the 18-10 defeat to Malone, with Daragh McDonnell shifting to lock and Mark Fallon promoted from the bench to number 8.

Buccaneers (9th) v Old Wesley (4th), Dubarry Park

Second-from-bottom Buccaneers were held scoreless by Banbridge and have another tough task in round 3, hosting an Old Wesley side that is currently unbeaten after holding highly-rated Old Belvedere to a draw last week.

New Buccs head coach Peter O’Donnell is hoping injuries clear for captain Rory Moloney and tighthead Niall Farrelly, while ever-consistent prop Martin Staunton should be back to bolster the front row. One of their former team-mates, Alan Gaughan, is now part of the Wesley midfield.

The Donnybrook outfit made one change to the side that battled all the with ‘Belvo. Knee injury victim Jack Maybury makes way for captain Paul Harte, another former Buccaneer who returns on the wing in search of his third try of the new season.

City of Armagh (7th) v Malone (2nd), Palace Grounds

The two clubs who came up from Division 2A meet in an early test of their current progress. Armagh picked up their first points in a hard-fought draw with Ballynahinch and now host in-form Malone in their second Ulster derby in the space of a week.

Ireland U18 Schools and Ulster U19 back rower Ryan O’Neill is poised to make his first league start for Armagh, who also bring in fit-again winger Tim McNiece, Harry Doyle and Daryl Morton. Ulster ‘A’ representatives Peter Cooper and Joe Dunleavy are back available for Malone.

Willie Faloon City of Armagh head coach Willie Falloon. Source: Presseye/Kelvin Boyes/INPHO

Cooper and Dunleavy are due to start up front for the Cregagh Red Sox, along with club captain Ross Todd who joins Dunleavy and Matthew Agnew in an all-new back row. Malone boss Paddy Armstrong says Armagh are “a quality team, very tough and physical”, and that Willie Faloon has them well-drilled and very organised.

Naas (1st) v Banbridge (5th), Forenaughts

Fionn Carr returns to the Naas back-line for their third round match against Banbridge, featuring on the right wing with Fionn Higgins reverting to full-back and Peter Osborne moving to out-half – his third different position in as many games.

Paul Monahan and David Benn swap in as the Cobras’ starting locks, while Banbridge are hoping to have Ulster forwards Schalk van der Merwe, Alex Thompson and Caleb Montgomery released for the trip to Kildare. South African prop van der Merwe was in try-scoring form against Buccs last Saturday.

Bann head coach Simon McKinstry commented: “It’s always hard to come away from Naas with points. But we did beat them away last season (40-31 in March). We went up a level against Buccaneers and we’re going to have to go up another level if we hope to beat Naas.”

Old Belvedere (3rd) v Ballynahinch (8th), Anglesea Road

Old Belvedere head coach Andy Kenny has reacted to their draw with Old Wesley by making four personnel changes, including handing David Butler his second start of the season at outside centre. He pairs up with Ben Carty, brother of Connacht out-half Jack.

Adam Howard and Roman Salanoa, the former American footballer, are swapped in as the starting props, while Colin Mallon gets the nod at number 8 and Eoin Sweeney switches to the second row. Belvedere won two tight games with Ballynahinch last season, including a 13-6 home triumph.

Brian McLaughlin’s ​’Hinch are on the hunt for their first win of the new campaign. His selection options should be boosted by Ulster ‘A’ representatives Zack McCall, Campbell Classon, Claytan Milligan and Bradley Luney following the province’s final Celtic Cup outing, but Aaron Hall, Jack Regan and Tommy O’Hagan are currently injured.

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