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Munster derby for defending champions Cork Con and the rest of this weekend's AIL previews

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

Men’s AIL Division 1A

Kick-off Saturday 2.30pm unless stated 

UCD v DUBLIN UNIVERSITY, Belfield Bowl, tonight, 8pm

liam-turner-breaks-free-to-score-a-try Liam Turner is back for Dublin University. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Leinster’s Liam Turner is back from recent Ireland Sevens duty as Dublin University look to recover from a disappointing first day out. Turner comes in at outside centre, with Luis Faria moving to full-back.

Cian Crotty, former Naas back Marcus Kiely and Ronan Murphy are the other Trinity changes. Hosts UCD are hoping for a repeat of their 30-19 win when they last hosted Tony Smeeth’s side two years ago.

There are a number of individual battles to look forward to, especially the match-up of hookers Bobby Sheehan and Mark ‘Sparky’ Nicholson, who have both started the season impressively.

BALLYNAHINCH v CLONTARF, Ballymacarn Park

Only a point separated these teams when Ballynahinch last entertained Clontarf in January 2020. An Aaron Cairns try was the difference, ‘Hinch being good value for an 11-10 triumph.

However, judging by last week’s four-try dismissal of UCD, ‘Tarf have taken their attack up a few notches since then. Leinster’s David Hawkshaw enjoyed his chance to shine, scoring 14 points.

‘Hinch will have been working hard on their maul defence and tackling out wide, as Young Munster hurt them in both areas. With those improvements, they could make it a tough afternoon for Andy Wood’s men.

CORK CONSTITUTION v YOUNG MUNSTER, Temple Hill

luke-cahill Back rower Luke Cahill has returned to Cork Con after a spell in Australia. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Following their late loss at Lansdowne, this is a fascinating test for Cork Constitution. The defending champions need a performance at home, or it could be a shaky first fortnight for them.

They have stalwart back rower Luke Cahill back involved after a spell in Australia. Con did the double over Young Munster in the league in 2019/20, while the Cookies can boast two Munster Senior Cup wins.

Winning at Temple Hill would be huge for Gearoid Prendergast’s young squad. David Begley, Pa Ryan and Dan Walsh are all promoted from the bench to start this mouthwatering Munster derby.

GARRYOWEN v UCC, Dooradoyle

Garryowen will have some enforced changes as Munster have called up Liam Coombes, Neil Cronin and Jack Daly, among others, for URC duty. Coombes starred with a try double at Trinity, from the right wing.

UCC could benefit from John Hodnett’s presence, the 22-year-old Munster back rower is hoping to put a run of games together after his long-term Achilles tendon injury.

Tony Butler and Cian Whooley, two of the province’s emerging out-half talents, are set to face off at Dooradoyle. Ennis youngster Butler kicked a well-struck 15 points for Garryowen last week, while Whooley is back looking sharp after missing Ireland Under-20 selection due to injury.

TERENURE COLLEGE v LANSDOWNE, Lakelands Park

alan-bennie Terenure's Alan Bennie is set to face his former club. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Terenure College impressed on the road against UCC, recovering from a slow start to run in five tries. Much-changed Lansdowne are tomorrow’s visitors, with scrum-half Alan Bennie set to face his former club.

Bennie thrived last week behind ‘Nure’s new back row of Harrison Brewer, James Connolly and Jordan Coghlan. Lansdowne also boast one of the league’s best set of loose forwards in Clive Ross, Jack O’Sullivan and Mark Boyle.

Leinster U20 Development prop Ben Popplewell, son of Nick, will make his full AIL debut at loosehead for Lansdowne, with Leinster-capped backs Michael Silvester and Cormac Foley also drafted in.

Division 1B

CITY OF ARMAGH v OLD BELVEDERE, Palace Grounds

Two of the winning teams from the opening round collide, with City of Armagh defending doggedly – minus injured captain Tim McNeice – to get the better of Banbridge.

Giving opportunities to some of the squad’s younger players, Armagh head coach Chris Parker said:

It was great to see 19-year-olds John Glasgow and Romain Morrow make their AIL debuts (last week) and both looked comfortable at this level.”

Old Belvedere, who struck late to overcome Naas, are without injured skipper Connor Owende. Dean Moore leads the side tomorrow, partnered by Paddy Dowling in the second row. Tom Ryan is added to the back row.

NAAS v MALONE, Forenaughts

aaron-sexton Malone's Aaron Sexton, lining out for Ireland's 7s. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

While Aaron Sexton provided the try-scoring fireworks for Malone against Navan, former Ulster prop Tommy O’Hagan, who has joined from Rainey, starred with a player-of-the-match performance.

The scrummaging will be worth the admission fee alone in Naas, with the hosts having the Leinster-capped Adam Coyle at loosehead. Player-backs coach Craig Ronaldson comes in at inside centre, with Conor Halpenny selected at scrum-half.

Malone have had some untimely injuries of late, with the likes of Josh Davidson, Teigan Erasmus and Josh Pentland all sidelined, so a win in Kildare would provide a big lift.

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NAVAN v HIGHFIELD, Balreask Old

The general consensus is that Navan look an improved team already this season, but no matter the performance level, Ray Moloney’s men need to pick up league points.

Their South African pair Hardus van Eeden and Liam McLoughlin had a promising introduction to the AIL in Belfast, with the latter kicking seven points. Kiwi hooker Jack Nelson also made his bow.

Highfield had their own fresh faces during the first round, chief amongst them ex-UCC out-half James Taylor who scored 11 points. You would have to fancy a second win for the Corkmen.

SHANNON v BANBRIDGE, Thomond Park back pitch

jade-kriel Jade Kriel in action for Shannon. Source: Ben Whitley/INPHO

This is Banbridge’s first trip to Thomond Park since November 2017 when they fell to a 33-14 defeat. Mark McDowell’s current crop are hoping to right the wrongs of last week’s reversal against Armagh.

Bann boss McDowell said: “Shannon at home represents a significant test for us. It’s all about nailing our detail in training this week and making sure we step up to the task on Saturday.”

Shannon are also looking to put a frustrating late loss to Old Wesley behind them. A number of U20 players are pushing through under Pat O’Connor, who has also welcomed back Jade Kriel and Ben Sargent to the squad.

ST MARY’S COLLEGE v OLD WESLEY, Templeville Road

A tasty south Dublin derby on the menu in Templeogue, with St Mary’s College aiming to build on what was an encouraging performance away to highly-rated Highfield.

With his try-scoring cameo in Cork, Conor Corcoran joined his sibling, starting lock Liam, as they became the latest set of brothers to play together in the famous blue and white.

It should be an almighty scrap in the engine room where Old Wesley have a formidable pairing in captain Iain McGann and JJ O’Dea, standing at 6ft 5in and 6ft 6in respectively and weighing a combined 208kg.

Division 2A

Cashel v Nenagh Ormond, Spafield, tonight, 8pm
Ballymena v Buccaneers, Eaton Park
Dolphin v Rainey Old Boys, Musgrave Park
MU Barnhall v UL Bohemians, Parsonstown
Old Crescent v Queen’s University, Rosbrien

Division 2B

Ballina v Blackrock College, Heffernan Park
Dungannon v Sligo, Stevenson Park
Galway Corinthians v Belfast Harlequins, Corinthian Park
Malahide v Greystones, Estuary Road
Wanderers v Galwegians, Merrion Road

Division 2C

Bruff v Skerries, Kilballyowen Park
City of Derry v Enniscorthy, Judge’s Road
Clonmel v Bangor, Ardgaoithe
Midleton v Sunday’s Well, Towns Park
Omagh Academicals v Tullamore, Thomas Mellon Playing Fields

Bernard Jackman, Murray Kinsella and Gavan Casey chat all things Connacht, Munster, Leinster and Ulster — and welcome back the AIL — on The42 Rugby Weekly


Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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