Table-topping Garryowen welcome Con to Dooradoyle and this weekend's AIL previews

Dave Mervyn looks ahead to the action from the men’s Division 1A and 1B.

Men’s AIL Division 1A

Kick-off Saturday 2.30pm unless stated

CLONTARF v LANSDOWNE, Castle Avenue, Friday, 8pm

Ben Griffin and Fionn Gilbert are both promoted from the Clontarf bench, covering the absence this week of hard-hitting Leinster forwards Vakh Abdaladze and Brian Deeny in the tight five.

They are the two enforced changes made to the ‘Tarf team that came from behind to beat Terenure College. In contrast, Lansdowne are able to bring provincial duo Cormac Foley and Peter Dooley into their starting XV.

The pair were try-scoring replacements in the 24-20 loss to Young Munster. Connacht recruit Peter McGrath packs down at tighthead prop, while Stephen Madigan and ex-UCD back Andy Marks also come into the visitors’ back-line.

bart-vermeulen-celebrates-after-the-game-with-fergus-hughes Dublin University's Bart Vermeulen and Fergus Hughes. Source: Ben Brady/INPHO


Long-serving out-half Mark O’Neill returns to the Terenure College line-up tomorrow, beginning an incredible 16th season of All-Ireland League rugby. He partners Alan Bennie at half-back for the trip to College Park.

The absence of ‘Nure captain Stephen O’Neill, Mark’s brother, is covered by Colm de Buitléar who switches to outside centre. Sean Skehan’s side lost 13-6 when they last visited Dublin University in early 2020.

Trinity went toe-to-toe with Cork Con for much of last week’s bruising battle. The availability again of Jack Dunne, who got 80 minutes on Leeside, Rob Russell and Ulster Academy youngster Harry Sheridan would be a big boost.

conor-hayes-kicks-a-conversion Young Munster’s Conor Hayes kicks a conversion in their victory over Lansdowne. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

UCC v YOUNG MUNSTER, the Mardyke 

Munster flyer Calvin Nash is on the bench for Young Munster’s fifth round clash with bottom side UCC. Conor Hayes, the hat-trick hero against Lansdowne, switches to full-back to cover Patrick Campbell’s absence.

Munster Academy lock Eoin O’Connor gets a start up front, Shay McCarthy returns to the Cookies’ back-three, and Conor Bartley swaps in for Colm Skehan on the tighthead side of the scrum.

UCC have been something of the bogey team for Munsters, winning their last two meetings. It is difficult to see them making it a hat-trick, even if the likes of Jack O’Sullivan, John Hodnett or Alex Kendellen feature in the back row.

sean-obrien-celebrates-with-ronan-foley-after-the-game UCD's Sean O'Brien and Ronan Foley. Source: Evan Treacy/INPHO

UCD v BALLYNAHINCH, Belfield Bowl 

It is a second successive home game for UCD who, having beaten intervarsity rivals UCC 40-31, are set to give a run-out to Leinster’s Josh Murphy, a notable inclusion on the students’ bench for tomorrow.

Murphy will get some game-time after recently returning from a calf injury. There are a couple of team changes, Alec Byrne coming in at blindside flanker with Diarmuid Mangan switching to the engine room.

Judging by their second half display against Garryowen, Ballynahinch are more than capable of getting a result here. Some provincial grunt up front would certainly help, as well as more chances coming the way of Aaron Cairns out wide.

niall-horan-jokes-with-match-referee-george-clancy-after-the-game Garryowen back rower Sean Rennison with referee George Clancy. Source: Brian Reilly-Troy/INPHO


Table-topping Garryowen face one of their biggest challenges yet, tacking a Cork Constitution side that appears to be hitting its stride after a tricky opening few weeks.

The Con forwards were back on song against UCD, including impressive number 8 David Hyland, but it was not a complete 80-minute performance, something which Garryowen also failed to achieve in Ballynahinch.

With their lineout lynchpin Pat O’Toole already on three tries, Garryowen head coach Mike Sherry said: “We’re expecting a big challenge from Con. They’re always tight games, they’ll be coming up with a couple of Munster players back and they’re definitely into their groove now.”

Division 1B

OLD WESLEY v MALONE, Energia Park, 2pm 

Old Wesley will be livestreaming their Donnybrook date with Malone, as they look to make it five wins on the trot. The Belfast side have been difficult opponents for Wesley, who lost twice to them in 2019/20.

Nonetheless, on current form and with home advantage, you would have to favour Morgan Lennon’s men. It took a full squad effort to get over Naas, with two tries from former Ireland Under-18 Sevens speedster Tommy O’Callaghan.

Malone were reinforced with some more Ulster talent last week and gave leaders Highfield a serious rattle. Provincial half-backs Angus Curtis and Lewis Finlay will hopefully get more game-time together.


The confidence levels of both Banbridge and Naas took a dip after disappointing finishes last Saturday. The wait for a first victory goes on for Mark McDowell’s young Banbridge squad.

Reacting to Naas’ 36-20 reversal at the hands of Wesley, head coach Johne Murphy has brought Sam Cahill, Conor Doyle and Cillian Dempsey into the starting XV. Adam Coyle switches to tighthead and Ryan Casey packs down at number 8.

McDowell commented: “Naas are at the same end of the table as ourselves, they had another loss last week. We’re going to need a really vocal support at Rifle Park, that would make a big difference to a team that knows they’re better than the table suggests.”

CITY OF ARMAGH v NAVAN, Palace Grounds

Contrasting fortunes for these teams last week, with City of Armagh going down to a Conor Dean-inspired St. Mary’s outfit, and Navan lifting themselves off the bottom rung with a dramatic defeat of Banbridge.

Navan provided some moments of class against Bann, particularly in unlocking the defence for two Paddy Fox tries. The newcomers are beginning to gel more, with former Shannon out-half Ben Daly having a nice cameo.

City of Armagh boss Chris Parker commented: “St. Mary’s were ruthless in punishing our mistakes. We need to eliminate a lot of errors from our game and I’m glad we have an opportunity to rectify matters with a home game this week.”


Old Belvedere welcome back captain Connor Owende from injury, the big lock making a timely recovery with league leaders Highfield in town for tomorrow’s livestreamed game.

Following a bad day at the office against Shannon, ‘Belvo make four changes with starts too for Jack Gilheany and Aaron Atkinson in the back-line, as well as Ryan McMahon at tighthead prop.

Highfield, who needed a late penalty to overcome Malone, have two alterations as winger Gavin O’Leary and flanker Cathal Gallagher both come into the side. Shane O’Riordan continues at out-half with James Taylor still sidelined.

SHANNON v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE, Thomond Park back pitch 

Jake Flannery, with 22 points, and three-try centre Myles Carey were the star performers last week for Shannon and St. Mary’s College respectively, so this should be a very entertaining contest on the back pitch.

If Munster’s Flannery is involved again, he will have a tasty duel with former Connacht out-half Conor Dean. Opposing second rows Sean McCarthy and Liam Corcoran will battle for supremacy in the lineout.

Shannon forwards coach Stephen Keogh told SRTV: “We’ve worked hard on the lineout. We’re fortunate to have guys in the pack who lead it, some really good jumpers and hookers. Everyone buys into it to make sure we deliver on the day.”

Division 2A

Ballymena v MU Barnhall, Eaton Park
Old Crescent v Dolphin, Takumi Park
Queen’s University v Cashel, Dub Lane
Rainey Old Boys v Nenagh Ormond, Hatrick Park
Buccaneers v UL Bohemians, Dubarry Park, 3pm

Division 2B

Dungannon v Malahide, Stevenson Park
Galwegians v Belfast Harlequins, Crowley Park
Greystones v Blackrock College, Dr Hickey Park
Sligo v Ballina, Hamilton Park
Wanderers v Galway Corinthians, Merrion Road

Division 2C

Bangor v Omagh Academicals, Upritchard Park
Bruff v City of Derry, Kilballyowen Park
Clonmel v Midleton, Ardgaoithe
Skerries v Enniscorthy, Holmpatrick
Sunday’s Well v Tullamore, Musgrave Park

Bernard Jackman, Murray Kinsella, and Gavan Casey look ahead to Ireland-Japan with the help of Japanese rugby expert Rich Freeman, while the lads also assess ‘Tier Two’ rugby two years out from the World Cup:

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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