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Recent Leinster debutants set for return to AIL club action over the weekend

Patrick Patterson and Jack Kelly among a host of provincial players due to line out in club colours.

All-Ireland League, Division 1A: 
[Saturday, 2.30pm unless stated]

Garryowen v Shannon, Dooradoyle, Friday, 8pm

CONTRASTING FORTUNES FOR these great Limerick rivals in the last two rounds, with Garryowen, in fifth, claiming wins over Young Munster and Terenure College while sixth-placed Shannon have gone down to Dublin University and Lansdowne, conceding 63 points in the process.

Ben Healy Ben Healy has been in standout form for Garryowen. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Ben Healy has swiftly made his mark in Garryowen’s number 10 jersey, kicking 34 points in their last two games. His direct opponent tonight will be fellow teenager Jake Flannery, deputising for Connacht’s Conor Fitzgerald and looking to guide Shannon to their first league win over the Light Blues since March 2013.

Garryowen won the sides’ Munster Senior Cup semi-final clash, 27-9, earlier in the season, with centre Peadar Collins contributing 22 points. A much tighter contest is expected here with both targeting their second top-flight Limerick derby victory of the campaign after overcoming Munsters at home.

Clontarf v Dublin University, Castle Avenue 

This All-Ireland League encounter doubles up as a Leinster Senior Cup quarter-final, and Dublin University boss Tony Smeeth has strengthened his line-up with the return of recent Leinster debutant Jack Kelly and fit-again captain Colm Hogan in the back-three.

Jack Kelly Jack Kelly will feature for Dublin University this weekend. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Both Clontarf and Trinity are looking to rebound from losses last weekend, ‘Tarf losing their unbeaten record with a lacklustre finish against Cork Constitution. The north Dublin club are hosting a Family Fun Day tomorrow and will want a result to match the off-field entertainment.

The students will see plenty of familiar faces in the Clontarf line-up, including Angus Lloyd, Michael Courtney, their captain last season, and Paddy Finlay, with the latter two starting for Trinity in their 29-24 loss at the same venue a year ago.

Cork Constitution v Young Munster, Temple Hill

Cork Constitution are back home for the first time in three rounds, having ousted Clontarf as league leaders. Out-half Aidan Moynihan played a pivotal role in their terrific comeback win at ‘Tarf, kicking 11 points to take his season’s haul to 52.

Young Munster’s discipline let them down against UCD and they cannot afford a repeat performance. The 34-all draw did at least put a stop to their three-match losing run, and winger Darragh O’Neill again showed his poaching skills with a fine chip-and-chase try — his fifth of the league season.

Munsters certainly reserve some of their best performances for Cork Con, who have lost their last four league meetings with the Cookies, including a dramatic 20-19 result at Temple Hill last year. They outscored Con by three tries to one that day and had a decisive last-gasp penalty from out-half Shane Airey.

Lansdowne v UCC, Aviva Stadium back pitch

This rare match-up brings back memories of Landowne’s first-ever league outing on the Aviva Stadium’s back pitch, a 61-13 demolition of UCC back in October 2010. Current stalwart Willie Earle got amongst the tries along with future Ireland internationals John Cooney, Dave Kearney and Matt Healy.

Another of Lansdowne’s long-serving players, prop Ian Prendiville, made his 100th league appearance in their 32-15 win at Shannon last Saturday. Their enviable strength in depth sees Tom Daly, Mark O’Keeffe, Scott Deasy, Oisin Dowling and Joe O’Brien come in as starters tomorrow.

Ending their losing run in their Colours match against Trinity was a huge boost for UCC, and Brian Walsh rotates his squad this week to give opportunities to Adam O’Connor, Michael Clune and Colin Sisk behind the scrum. Paidi McCarthy, Brian O’Mahony, Lee McSherry and Fergus Hennessy also come into the pack.

UCD v Terenure College, Belfield Bowl

UCD are set to be bolstered by the availability of Hugo Keenan and Jimmy O’Brien. The pair are poised to start at fullback and outside centre, fresh from scoring three of Leinster’s tries against the Dragons last Saturday.

Patrick Patterson celebrates scoring a try with Ronan Foley and Tom Fletcher Patterson made his Leinster debut last week. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Academy scrum-half Paddy Patterson, who made his provincial debut in Newport, is another one of the five personnel changes to the UCD side that drew with Young Munster. Andy Skehan’s youngsters are hoping to pull off their first win in four rounds.

Bottom-placed Terenure are even more in need of a victory, succumbing to their second one-point defeat of the season last week against Garryowen. Jamie Glynn and James Thornton will be looking to triumph against their former club, while ‘Nure fullback Matthew Byrne — Keenan and O’Brien’s former Ireland U20 team-mate — has a sixth league try in his sights.

All-Ireland League, Division 1B:
[Saturday, 2.30pm unless stated]

Ballymena v Ballynahinch, Eaton Park 

The first of two Ulster derbies for Ballynahinch before Christmas as they look to build on their recent winning performances against Banbridge and Old Wesley. Versatile Ulster back Peter Nelson kicked 22 points across those two games.

They are likely to have Nelson, Tommy O’Hagan, Zack McCall and possibly Iwan Hughes, who won the Dubai 7s International Invitational tournament with Ireland last weekend, available for this trip to Eaton Park. ‘Hinch won a Ulster Premiership tie there in September, triumphing 20-17.

Lock Connor Smyth’s try tally stands at four after his brace in Ballymena’s much-needed 28-14 victory over ‘Belvo. Their head coach Andy Graham told Irish Rugby TV: “Going forward we have to tighten up our defence, and there’s other aspects as well just in our general play. There’s lots to work on but there’s a good base there as well. Hopefully we can build on what we produced last week.”

City of Armagh v Naas, Palace Grounds

Two of the best young coaches in the division go head to head as Willie Faloon’s Armagh side play host to the Johne Murphy-coached Naas. Number 8 Neil Faloon is coming back from injury and could start for the hosts, following a 50-minute run-out with the seconds.

Smarting from a 24-17 loss to Buccaneers, Armagh did well to recover from an awful start in Athlone and earn a losing bonus point. Picking up points when not playing well is crucial for both of these clubs in terms of staying in the hunt for a top-four finish.

Naas are without their injured top try scorer Andy Ellis (6 tries) for the trip north, replacing him at outside centre with recent league debutant Jordan Fitzpatrick. Ben O’Connor and Richie Fahy also start behind the scrum, with tighthead Conor Doyle and flanker Ryan Casey promoted from the bench.

Malone v Old Wesley, Gibson Park

Adam McBurney and Ross Kane have been released by Ulster to join Peter Cooper in a powerful Malone front row tomorrow afternoon. 19-year-old academy back rower Joe Dunleavy also comes in at number eight.

Teenage winger Ben McCaughey, who has scored three league tries so far, also returns after playing his part in the Ulster U19s’ excellent win over Australia Schools and U18s. Malone will need to be back to their sharpest as visitors Old Wesley have already defeated three Ulster clubs — Armagh, Banbridge and Ballymena.

Darren Horan, who captained Wesley for the last two seasons, returns at blindside flanker in their only change from last Saturday’s 27-16 reversal at the hands of ‘Hinch. The Dubliners have been able to follow losses with wins in the earlier rounds, but Malone may prove too tough to crack at home.

Old Belvedere v Buccaneers, Anglesea Road

Having climbed above Old Belvedere and out of the bottom two, Buccaneers now visit the Dubliners knowing that another win could push them towards mid-table. However, they make the trip without several of the Connacht players who helped them to beat Armagh 24-17.

Those include Kieran Joyce, Eoghan Masterson and Dave Heffernan, who captains Connacht against Perpignan tomorrow. Academy out-half Luke Carty, the division’s second top scorer (61 points), is set to come up against his older brother Ben, the Old Belvedere centre.

‘Belvo have lost back-to-back games, both in Ulster, and return home with three changes made to their pack. Props Adam Howard and Declan Lavery swap in and Eoin O’Neill will don the number 7 jersey, with Eoin Sweeney switching to the second row to partner Jack Kelly.

St Mary’s College v Banbridge, Templeville Road

St Mary’s College will unsurprisingly field an unchanged team for the visit of third-placed Banbridge. Hooker Richie Halpin, who scored his second try of the campaign during their impressive win at Naas, has to be content with a place on the bench again.

Banbridge make two personnel changes to the side that overcame Malone 21-11, with Ben Carson returning at centre, Jonny Little shifting to out-half, Ethan Harbinson coming in at openside flanker, Greg Jones moving to number 8 and Stevie Irvine, who has scored three tries in the last four rounds, repositioned to lock.

Previewing their second trip of the season to Dublin, Bann head coach Simon McKinstry said: “I understand that Mary’s have a very big pack – three tries from mauls against Naas would support that. But we’ll give it a good rattle and hopefully keep up the pressure on the top two.” 

All-Ireland League, Division 2A:
[Saturday, 2.30pm unless stated]

  • Blackrock College v Old Crescent, Stradbrook
  • Navan RFC v Galwegians, Balreask Old
  • Nenagh Ormond v Highfield, New Ormond Park
  • Queens University v Cashel RFC, Dub Lane 
  • UL Bohemian v Dolphin, 4G Pitch, UL

All-Ireland League, Division 2B:
[Saturday, 2.30pm unless stated]

  • MU Barnahll P-P Wanderers
  • Belfast Harlequins v Skerries, Deramore Park
  • Dungannon v Greystones, Stevenson Park
  • Galway Corinthians RFC v Sligo, Corinthian Park
  • Sundays Well v Rainey OB, Musgrave Park

All-Ireland League, Division 2C:

  • Omagh v Seapoint, Thomas Mellon Playing Fields
  • Ballina v Bangor, Heffernan Park
  • Malahide v Bruff, Estuary Road
  • Midleton v City of Derry, Towns Park
  • Thomond v Tullamore, Liam Fitzgerald Park.

Murray Kinsella, Gavan Casey and Andy Dunne preview a big weekend of Heineken Cup action and dissect the week’s main talking points.

Source: Heineken Rugby Weekly on The42/SoundCloud

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