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Relegation scrap and top-of-the-table clash in store as UBL finish line draws closer

The great Moss Keane will be remembered by table-toppers Lansdowne before their clash with Cork Con.

Kick-off: Saturday, March 11 @2.30pm unless stated 

Ulster Bank League Division 1A

GARRYOWEN (8th) v CLONTARF (4th), Dooradoyle

Clontarf’s 12-3 defeat of current leaders Lansdowne last week was a real statement of intent, the result seeing them draw within two points of a home semi-final berth.

They have five players included in the Ireland Club International squad to play England Counties next Friday, with Garryowen represented by their top-scoring captain Neil Cronin (111 points) and Andrew O’Byrne.

Neil Cronin Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

It is vital that the Light Blues get back to winning ways after a poor day out against Dublin University. They are just five points above the relegation zone and really need to steady the ship at home.

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Garryowen: LWWLLLWWWLLLWL; Clontarf: WLLWLLLWWWLWWW

Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Garryowen: Points: Neil Cronin 111; Tries: Liam Coombes 4; Clontarf: Points: Rob Keogh 97; Tries: Matt D’Arcy 7

LANSDOWNE (1st) v CORK CONSTITUTION (3rd), Aviva Stadium back pitch

The big matches keep coming for table toppers Lansdowne. They fell at Castle Avenue in round 14, but a dose of home comfort should help them recover against third-placed Cork Constitution.

The division’s two top scorers are set to go head to head, with Lansdowne out-half Scott Deasy and his Cork Con counterpart Tomas Quinlan scoring 281 points between them so far. Watch out too for Con lock Brian Hayes who has touched down twice in the last two games.

Moss Keane 3/11/2005 Source: ©INPHO

The life and career of the great Moss Keane, who played with Lansdowne for a number of years, will be celebrated on the day. His daughters and brothers will receive a special commemorative presentation at the pre-match lunch.

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Lansdowne: WWLLWWWWWLWWWL; Cork Constitution: WLLWWWWWWLWLWW

Ulster Bank League Top Scorers - Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 145; Tries: Daniel McEvoy 10; Cork Constitution: Points: Tomas Quinlan 136; Tries: Shane Daly 5

ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (5th) v UCD (6th), Templeville Road

St. Mary’s and UCD have almost identical records in mid-table, lying fifth and sixth respectively with six wins, eight losses and seven bonus points each. Only scoring difference has Jamie Cornett’s men ahead.

Leinster forwards Ian Nagle and Andrew Porter both scored tries last week in winning performances for Mary’s and the students, although club talents David Fanagan (with his fifth try of the season) and Matthew Gilsenan (five penalties) were even more influential.

Ronan O'Halloran and Tom Fletcher Tom Fletcher in action against Garryowen Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Mary’s are chasing a season’s double and a repeat of October’s three-try 19-13 success would keep alive their slim hopes of catching fourth-placed Clontarf – the gap is 11 points at present.

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: St. Mary’s College: LWLWWLLLLWLWLW; UCD: LWLLLWLWLWWLLW

Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – St. Mary’s College: Points: Sean Kearns 47; Tries: David Fanagan 5; UCD: Points: Matthew Gilsenan 37; Tries: Tom Fletcher 6

TERENURE COLLEGE (9th) v OLD BELVEDERE (10th), Lakelands Park

With just four rounds remaining, close rivals Terenure College and Old Belvedere are running out of opportunities to move out of the relegation zone. They are locked together on 24 points each.

Terenure look better placed to at least avoid automatic relegation, they battled back for a losing bonus point against neighbours St. Mary’s and were very close to beating Cork Con in their last home game.

Willie Staunton who won the game with a penalty kick 7/10//2016 Willie Staunton kicking a vital penalty earlier this season. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Belvedere have lost their last five encounters, slipping from sixth to tenth in the table. But they will draw heart from October’s 18-15 triumph over ‘Nure when match winner Willie Staunton booted six penalties.

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Terenure College: LLWLLLLLLWWWLL; Old Belvedere: WLWWWLLLWLLLLL

Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Terenure College: Points: Jake Swaine 66; Tries: Marc Hiney 4; Old Belvedere: Points: Willie Staunton 79; Tries: Shane McDonald 4

YOUNG MUNSTER (2nd) v DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (7th), Tom Clifford Park

With two losses in three games, Young Munster have lost some momentum in their pursuit of a home semi-final. Cork Con and Clontarf are really nipping at their heels now.

They undoubtedly miss centres Dan Goggin and Cian Bohane and together with Abriel Griesel, the trio are on Munster ‘A’ duty this weekend. Trinity will be hoping to take advantage of their absence, as they look to follow up on their 19-3 home win over Garryowen.

Michael Madden wins a line-out Young Munster in action during the Munster senior cup final against Cork Con last month. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The selection of Michael Courtney, Eric O’Sullivan and Paddy Finlay for Ireland Club International honours is deserved recognition for the students’ top flight exploits. Director of rugby Tony Smeeth said: “Tom Clifford Park is the toughest place to win in the league, all our XV guys need to stand up. For us to win it will be a 20-man job. We need to be firing on all cylinders to get the right result.”

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Young Munster: LWWLWWWLLWWLWL; Dublin University: WLWWWLWLLLLWLW

Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Young Munster: Points: Rob Keogh 97; Tries: Matt D’Arcy 7; Dublin University: Points: David O’Mahony 72; Tries: Cian Bohane, Rob Guerin 5 each.

UBL Division 1B

BALLYNAHINCH (5th) v OLD WESLEY (4th), Ballymacarn Park

Two successive defeats and then the postponement of last week’s match against Naas mean Ballynahinch have precious little momentum to take into this game with Old Wesley.

They are short a number of players due to the British & Irish Cup quarter-final involving Ulster ‘A’, but ‘Hinch have Craig Trenier back at tighthead prop and seconds player Ryan Wilson is getting a run at outside centre.

Morgan Lennon’s Old Wesley, who drew at Galwegians last Saturday, won 35-32 when hosting ‘Hinch in October and they should have the firepower to push further clear in fourth place.

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Ballynahinch: WLWLLWLLWWWLL; Old Wesley: WWLWWWLDWLLLWD

Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Ballynahinch: Points: Chris Quinn 49; Tries: Jordan Grattan 5; Old Wesley: Points: Barry McLaughlin 117; Tries: Ger Finucane, Paul Harte 4 each

DOLPHIN (10th) v BALLYMENA (6th), Irish Independent Park

Dolphin gave a very good account of themselves against leaders Buccaneers in round 14. The 19-5 scoreline does not tell the full tale as the Corkmen missed 11 points via kicks as Barry Keeshan and Cian McGovern both miscued.

Only eight points separated Dolphin from Ballymena in their October meeting, so home advantage and a better conversion rate in the red zone should aid them in their Division 1B plight.

Rodger McBurney in action McBurney breaks against Buccaneers. Source: Presseye/Tony Hendron/INPHO

Mixed form and injuries have played their part in the Braidmen slipping down to sixth. They have 17 backs unavailable this week, including captain Martin Irwin and Ulster’s Dave Shanahan and Brett Herron. Ritchie McMaster and Glenn Baillie will start at half-back with Matthew Norris and Daryl Montgomery in the centre.

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Dolphin: LLWLLLWWLLLLWL; Ballymena: WWLWLLWWLDLWLL

Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Dolphin: Points: Barry Keeshan 61; Tries: Ryan Murphy 5; Ballymena: Points: Ritchie McMaster 48; Tries: Rodger McBurney, Mark Best, James Beattie 4 each

NAAS (3rd) v SHANNON (8th), Forenaughts

Without a match last week, Naas have not played since losing 16-13 at UCC three weeks ago. UL Bohemians have leapfrogged them into second, so they need a good response here against Shannon.

Their player-coach Johne Murphy and top-scoring scrum half Peter Osborne (110 points) will be on Ireland Club International duty next week as assistant coach and a first-time squad member.

Buoyed by their home win over UCC, Shannon are sure to give it their all but Munster ‘A’ and Ireland U-20 commitments mean their back-line is severely depleted. Stephen and Conor Fitzgerald, Greg O’Shea and Jack Stafford are all unavailable.

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Naas: WLLWWWLWLWWWL; Shannon: LLLLLWLDLWWWLW

Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Naas: Points: Peter Osborne 110; Tries: Fionn Carr 6; Shannon: Points: Ronan McKenna 48; Tries: Niall Mulcahy 4

UCC (7th) v BUCCANEERS (1st), the Mardyke

If October’s game is anything to go by, the crowd at the Mardyke can expect plenty of attack-minded rugby and scores. Buccaneers came out on top, 49-36, in Athlone with the division’s top try scorer Jordan Conroy (14 tries) bagging a brace.

One more win should be enough to seal automatic promotion for the Pirates. They hope to have Alan Gaughan back after an injury at training last week, while Connacht Academy prop Jamie Dever is a solid recent addition to the front row.

Richard Walsh Richard Walsh unleashes a pass against Ballynahinch in December. Source: Presseye/Freddie Parkinson/INPHO

UCC have a canny knack of turning over higher-placed sides at home and their back-line can be very potent. Full-back Richard Walsh and out-half Tom Kiersey have both scored three tries in their last three outings.

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: UCC: LLWLWLWLLLWWWL; Buccaneers: LWWWWWWWWDWWWW

Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – UCC: Points: Kevin O’Keeffe 120; Tries: Conor Barry 5; Buccaneers: Points: Alan Gaughan 121; Tries: Jordan Conroy 14

UL BOHEMIANS (2nd) v GALWEGIANS (9th), University of Limerick 4G pitch

One win in their last four and one win in their last five. Results have been particularly hard to come by for both UL Bohemians and Galwegians of late.

It is Bohs’ early season exploits that have them still in the mix for promotion. Last week’s much-needed 30-23 victory over Ballymena, which saw Kiwi Rick McKenna pass the 100-point mark for the campaign, moved them back into second place.

Connacht Eagles-capped full-back Aidan Moynihan had a try-scoring contribution in Galwegians’ round 14 draw with Old Wesley, taking his tally for the season to six. He also touched down in October’s 27-23 loss to UL.

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: UL Bohemians: WWWWWLWLWWLLLW; Galwegians: LWLLLLLLWLLLWD

Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – UL Bohemians: Points: Rick McKenna 101; Tries: Finbar Aherne 6; Galwegians: Points: Aidan Moynihan 58; Tries: Cormac Brennan, Aidan Moynihan 6 each

UBL Division 2A

Banbridge v Malone, Rifle Park
Belfast Harlequins v Blackrock College, Deramore Park
Cashel v Sundays Well, Spafield
Highfield v Galway Corinthians, Woodleigh Park
Queen’s University v Nenagh Ormond, Dub Lane

UBL Division 2B

Bective Rangers v Wanderers, Donnybrook
City of Derry v Greystones, Judge’s Road
Dungannon v Thomond, Stevenson park
MU Barnhall v Armagh, Parsonstown
Old Crescent v Skerries, Rosbrien

UBL Division 2C

Bangor v Tullamore, Upritchard Park
Midleton v Boyne, Towns Park
Navan v Kanturk, Balreask Old
Seapoint v Rainey, Kilbogget Park
Sligo v Bruff, Hamilton Park

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