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Cork and Dublin derbies to shape the top of the table in Division 1A

It’s fourth versus first on Leeside and third versus second in the capital this weekend.

Cork Constitution's Jack Crowley celebrates a turnover against Terenure.
Cork Constitution's Jack Crowley celebrates a turnover against Terenure.
Image: Oisin Keniry/INPHO


Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated


UCC (4th) v CORK CONSTITUTION (1st), the Mardyke, Friday night, 8pm

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: UCC: WWWLL; Cork Constitution: WWWWW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – UCC: Points: Matt Bowen, James Taylor 20 each; Tries: Matt Bowen 4; Cork Constitution: Points: Aidan Moynihan 29; Tries: Greg Higgins 3

THE SKILFUL PETER Sylvester makes the move to out-half for UCC’s crunch derby clash with table-topping Cork Constitution. Much rests on the shoulders of Sylvester with Cian Bohane and James Taylor both currently sidelined.

james-taylor-celebrates-scoring-a-try James Taylor is missing for the students on Friday night. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Murray Linn joins Louis Bruce in midfield, while the Cork students’ unchanged pack includes a formidable back-row unit of captain Ryan Murphy, John Hodnett, who touched down at Terenure College last week, and Jack O’Sullivan.

Con have been specialising in narrow wins over the last few weeks. They claimed a similar result, winning 20-18 when visiting the Mardyke in October of last year, and it could very well be just as tight when these sides renew rivalries on Friday night.

Recent League Meetings – Friday, October 12, 2018: UCC 18 Cork Constitution 20, the Mardyke; Friday, April 5, 2019: Cork Constitution 37 UCC 19, Temple Hill


Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Dublin University: LLWWL; Ballynahinch: LLLLW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Dublin University: Points: Micheal O’Kennedy 38; Tries: James Hickey, Ronan Quinn, Max Kearney 3 each; Ballynahinch: Points: Sean O’Hagan 48; Tries: Aaron Cairns 4

robert-baloucoune-celebrates-after-the-game-with-fans Robert Baloucoune and Bill Johnston are available for Ballynahinch on Saturday. Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

There are a couple of notable provincial players in both of the starting XVs as Dublin University, who have lost three of their five games so far, host a Ballynahinch team buoyed by last week’s excellent 43-5 thrashing of Lansdowne.

Ulster have released winger Robert Baloucoune and out-half Bill Johnston to start for ‘Hinch tomorrow against Trinity, with Academy hooker Tom Stewart the third and final change in personnel.

The students are looking to put a heartbreaking defeat to Con behind them. Leinster duo Rowan Osborne and Ryan Baird are both included, and there is a first league start for Alex Soroka, who impressed for the Ireland Under-18 Schools team last season.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, April 6, 2013: Dublin University 21 Ballynahinch 28, College Park; Saturday, April 30, 2016: Ballynahinch 9 Dublin University 18, Ballymacarn Park

GARRYOWEN (5th) v CLONTARF (6th), Dooradoyle

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Garryowen: LWLWW; Clontarf: WLLWL
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Garryowen: Points: Jamie Heuston 29; Tries: Tommy O’Hora, Bryan Fitzgerald 3 each; Clontarf: Points: Sean Kearns 32; Tries: Tadgh McElroy, Matt D’Arcy 2 each

munsters-jack-stafford Scrum-half Jack Stafford and his former Ireland U20 half-back partner Dave McCarthy start for Garryowen this weekend. Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

Former Ireland U20 internationals Dave McCarthy and Jack Stafford will team up at half-back for Garryowen this weekend. The Light Blues are chasing their third victory on the trot as they look to break into the top four.

Johnny Keane resumes at blindside flanker with Tim Ferguson reverting to the number 8 position. Centre Bryan Fitzgerald is in a hot streak with three tries in as many games.

Clontarf did the double on Garryowen last season, winning 29-12 at Dooradoyle last March. One of their new signings, full-back Sean Kearns, has scored 32 points so far, including all 13 points in last week’s home loss to UCD.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 20, 2018: Clontarf 28 Garryowen 10, Castle Avenue; Saturday, March 23, 2019: Garryowen 12 Clontarf 29, Dooradoyle

LANSDOWNE (8th) v YOUNG MUNSTER (10th), Aviva Stadium back pitch

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Lansdowne: WLLLL; Young Munster: LLLDL
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Lansdowne: Points: Tim Foley 35; Tries: Adam Leavy, Adam Boland 3 each; Young Munster: Points: Evan Cusack 42; Tries: Jordan Stewart 2

harry-byrne-kicks Leinster have released Cian Kelleher and Harry Byrne (pictured) as Lansdowne aim to get their season up and running. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Leinster’s Cian Kelleher and Harry Byrne return to club action, featuring on the right wing and at out-half as they look to inspire Lansdowne back to winning ways after an uncharacteristic run of four successive defeats.

Four of last week’s replacements are promoted to the Dubliners’ starting XV, including front rowers James Rael and Adam Boland, while the three-time league champions’ new-look back row is made up of Jack Dinneen, Mark Hernan and Jack O’Sullivan.

Confirmation of Gearoid Prendergast’s appointment as Ireland Club XV head coach will certainly spur Young Munster on. The Cookies are still searching for their first win and will draw inspiration from running Lansdowne so close last March – 25-24.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 3, 2018: Young Munster 12 Lansdowne 23, Tom Clifford Park; Saturday, March 2, 2019: Lansdowne 25 Young Munster 24, Aviva Stadium back pitch

UCD (3rd) v TERENURE COLLEGE (2nd), Belfield Bowl

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: UCD: LWWDW; Terenure College: WWWLW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – UCD: Points: David Moran 22; Tries: Andy Marks 3; Terenure College: Points: Mark O’Neill 21; Tries: Sam Dardis, Caolan Dooley 2 each

stephen-ooneill-celebrates-with-robert-duke-after-his-try Terenure v UCD (file pic). Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

This Dublin derby brings together two of the last round’s winning teams. Having edged out Clontarf, UCD’s unbeaten run now stands at four games and they are going great guns under coaches Kevin Croke, Mark McGroarty and Brett Igoe.

Second-placed Terenure College are just ahead of the students in the table thanks to their four wins-out-of-five record. Their most recent trip to Belfield ended in a very disappointing 31-3 reversal last December.

‘Nure also played student opposition last week, overcoming UCC 22-14 with Sam Dardis and Caolan Dooley scoring their second tries of the campaign. Their five personnel changes for tomorrow include Liam Hyland and Mike Murphy in the tight five.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 8, 2018: UCD 31 Terenure College 3, Belfield Bowl; Saturday, January 26, 2019: Terenure College 49 UCD 21, Lakelands Park


CITY OF ARMAGH (5th) v OLD WESLEY (2nd), Palace Grounds

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: City of Armagh: WWLWL; Old Wesley: WWWW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – City of Armagh: Points: Cormac Fox 40; Tries: Andrew Willis 3; Old Wesley: Points: Rory Stynes 36; Tries: Conor Barry 2

City of Armagh and Old Wesley meet for the first time since the final day of last season. Back then Wesley triumphed 31-10 in Donnybrook on the way to challenging UCC for a spot in the top flight.

The Dubliners were idle last Saturday, their game against Navan being postponed. Head coach Morgan Lennon has named the same starting XV which includes the strong-running centre pairing of David Poff and James O’Donovan.

Ever-reliable Armagh out-half Cormac Fox has reached 40 points already, putting his third on the top scorers’ list. They will need both him and the pack on top form in order to protect their proud home record.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 6, 2018: City of Armagh 17 Old Wesley 22, Palace Grounds; Saturday, April 13, 2019: Old Wesley 31 City of Armagh 10, Energia Park

NAAS (9th) v SHANNON (3rd), Forenaughts

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Naas: LLLLL; Shannon: LWWLW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Naas: Points: Peter Osborne 17; Tries: Fionn Higgins 3; Shannon: Points: Pa Ryan 25; Tries: Pa Ryan 5

Contrasting fortunes for these two clubs last weekend, with Naas finishing 10 points behind Banbridge and Shannon running four tries past City of Armagh to climb up to third in the Division 1B table.

The Cobras last hosted Shannon at Forenaughts two years ago, picking up a hard-fought 21-18 victory during which Fionn Higgins touch down twice. Shannon centre Pa Ryan also scored a try that day – he has five for the current season already.

Shannon head coach Tadhg Bennett commented: “Having played well against Armagh, getting another two wins (back-to-back) would be massive for us, but we know it’s going to be a very, very hard test at Forenaughts.”

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, November 11, 2017: Naas 21 Shannon 18, Forenaughts; Saturday, January 6, 2018: Shannon 25 Naas 3, Thomond Park back pitch


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NAVAN (10th) v HIGHFIELD (1st), Balreask Old (match conceded by Navan – walkover win for Highfield (28-0, five points))

OLD BELVEDERE (4th) v MALONE (6th), Ollie Campbell Park

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Old Belvedere: WWWLL; Malone: LLWWL
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Old Belvedere: Points: Steve Crosbie 59; Tries: James McKeown, Jack Keating 3 each; Malone: Points: Callum Smith 25; Tries: Ross Todd, Peter Cooper, Angus Kernohan 2 each

Old Belvedere head coach Andy Kenny has made three personnel changes to the side that lost 14-10 at leaders Highfield. Tom Molony slots in at outside centre and Ryan McMahon and Colin Mallon are introduced up front.

Having slipped to fourth place due to successive defeats, ‘Belvo will be fiercely determined to sign off on the first six rounds with a timely win. Malone make the trip south with the very same aim after going down 13-8 at home to St. Mary’s.

Malone boss Chris Henry is boosted by the return of David Busby to the full-back position, while talented young forwards Peter Cooper and Conor McMenamin step up from the bench. Ryan Clarke switches from the second row to number 8.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 27, 2018: Malone 39 Old Belvedere 8, Gibson Park; Saturday, March 9, 2019: Old Belvedere 15 Malone 12, Anglesea Road

ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (8th) v BANBRIDGE (7th), Templeville Road

Energia All-Ireland League Season’s Form: St. Mary’s College: WLLLW; Banbridge: LLLWW
Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – St. Mary’s College: Points: Ruairi Shields 33; Tries: Hugo Conway 3; Banbridge: Points: Adam Doherty 29; Tries: Stevie Irvine, Neil Kilpatrick, Greg Jones, Ryan Hughes 2 each

Ulster opposition again for St. Mary’s following on from last Saturday’s 13-8 success away to Malone. Head coach Steve Hennessy has stuck with the same winning formula in selecting an unchanged side.

Banbridge have won back-to-back home games, so the task is now to take that form with them on the road. Centre Ross Cartmill, winger John Porter and prop Stuart Cromie are the three alterations this week.

There is also an intriguing match-up at scrum-half where Mary’s starlet Cormac Foley, who was part of last season’s Ireland Under-20 Grand Slam-winning squad, faces off against former Ireland U-20 international and Ulster-capped half-back Jonny Stewart.

Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 8, 2018: St. Mary’s College 28 Banbridge 7, Templeville Road; Saturday, January 26, 2019: Banbridge 18 St. Mary’s College 16, Rifle Park


Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated


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


Blackrock College v Wanderers, Stradbrook
Galway Corinthians v Dungannon, Corinthian Park
Galwegians v Ballina, Crowley Park
Greystones v Sligo, Dr Hickey Park
Malahide v Belfast Harlequins, Estuary Road


Clonmel v Enniscorthy, Ardgaoithe
Omagh v Bruff, Thomas Mellon Playing Fields
Skerries v Bangor, Holmpatrick
Tullamore v City of Derry, Spollanstown
Sunday’s Well v Midleton, tonight, 7.30pm


Ballyclare v Crosshaven, the Cloughan
Dromore v Grosvenor, Barban Hill
Gorey v Ashbourne, Clonattin Road
Kilfeacle & District v Kilkenny, Morrissey Park

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