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Dublin: 11°C Saturday 24 October 2020
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Never mind the Pro12 - here's the pick of this weekend's domestic rugby action

Old Belvedere and Terenure kick off the Division 1A action in Anglesea Road this evening.

Stephen OÕNeill celebrates with Robert Duke after his try Robert Duke, bottom right, impressed for Terenure last week. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Division 1A:

Old Belvedere (3rd) v Terenure College (8th)

Anglesea Road, Friday, 7.30pm

Two teams that emerged with renewed confidence last week, following their respective home wins over table toppers Lansdowne and highly-rated UCD.

When on their game, Belvedere are an excellent side. Centres John Kennedy and Ben Woods led a destructive defence against Lansdowne, and new flanker Paul Pritchard made a try-scoring impact off the bench.

Robert Duke was another back rower to impress, sniffing out two tries in Terenure’s bonus point defeat of UCD. Collectively, Belvo look too strong, though, and should make it three victories in four games.

Dublin University (5th) v Young Munster (2nd)

College Park, Saturday, 2.30pm

A real benchmark match for Trinity who, having won on the road against Terenure and St. Mary’s, are looking to end the league’s first month with their maiden home win.

To achieve that against Young Munster would be a big statement, especially with the Cookies brimming with confidence after beating both of last season’s finalists. The Limerick men are without Robin Copeland who has made the Munster bench.

Both packs have shone in the three rounds so far, but look out for Colm Hogan and Calvin Nash, two Ireland Under-19 team-mates and Academy starlets from Munster who will oppose each other out wide.

Clontarf (7th) v Garryowen (4th)

Castle Avenue, Saturday, 2.30pm

Clontarf were left to rue the concession of a late match-winning penalty against Munsters. They have to show their champions’ pedigree and do their utmost to avoid a third straight defeat.

Tomorrow’s Leinster ‘A’ match against Ulster will hamper Tarf’s selection somewhat, and visitors Garryowen should benefit from Munster ‘A’ not having a British & Irish Cup warm-up fixture.

The young Light Blues have shown an enviable ability to win tight games, edging past Belvo and Cork Con, with centre Andrew O’Byrne bagging two tries. Winning at the title holders would really push their top four credentials.

Charlie McMickan kicks Charlie McMickan couldn't help Lansdowne avoid defeat against OB. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Cork Constitution (10th) v Lansdowne (1st)

Temple Hill, Saturday, 4pm

Cork Constitution and Lansdowne both come into this one off a three-point defeat, and they will have bottled that hurt for what is annually one of the top flight’s best clashes.

Notably, Con were unbeaten against Lansdowne last season, dominating the first half of a 22-all draw at Temple Hill and then winning the rematch 15-13 thanks to Tomas Quinlan’s 10-point salvo.

Lansdowne talisman Scott Deasy will be determined to outshine Quinlan in the kicking stakes as he returns to his former club again. Young Scottish referee Sam Grove-White, one of the new World Sevens Series officials, will have the whistle on Leeside.

Jimmy O'Brien scores a try UCD's Jimmy O'Brien reaches out to score against Terenure. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

UCD (6th) v St Mary’s College (9th)

Belfield Bowl, Saturday, 4pm

Leinster ‘A’ commitments will unfortunately rob UCD of a plethora of players, and their absence comes at a bad time as the students aim for their first home win.

Andy Skehan’s youngsters, who worked hard for two bonus points at Terenure, will have noted where St. Mary’s were hurt last week by Trinity, a team they themselves had 10 points to spare over.

Both sides have played in patches so far, but Mary’s will fancy their chances of ending a two-match losing run. Especially if half-backs Paddy O’Driscoll and Sean Kearns (the division’s top scorer with 43 points) can get the best out of the back-line.

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Division 1B:

Galwegians (6th) v UL Bohemians (1st)

Crowley Park, Saturday, 2pm

Despite falling to Dolphin, Galwegians will not be too downbeat after losing two of their first three games under Brian McClearn. The new half-back pairing of Mitch Lam and Stuart Lee looks promising.

But it is hard to see ‘Wegians stopping table toppers UL Bohemians in their tracks. The start of Christy Neilan’s coaching reign could hardly have gone any better, with three successive bonus point wins.

Winger Jamie McNamara is on fire with four tries already, while Ed Kelly and captain Ian Condell drive a talented pack that is providing quality ball for McNamara and company.

Ballymena (4th) v Dolphin (9th)

Eaton Park, Saturday, 2.30pm

Ballymena must do without a number of players owing to Ulster ‘A’ commitments this weekend. Heading that list is top-scoring centre Mark Best who has accumulated 32 points and three tries so far.

Another of the their midfield contingent, Paddy James, is on duty with the Ireland rugby league side. However, Andy Graham has had upwards of 35 players at training this week so the rejigged Braidmen will be well-drilled.

Dolphin ended their losing streak against Galwegians and would dearly love win number two. Ex-Ireland Club international Barry Keeshan was a commanding presence at out-half last week, and more of the same is required if they are take something out of this game.

Conor McKeon Buccaneers currently sit second in Division 1B (pictured, Conor McKeon). Source: Presseye/Mervyn McClelland/INPHO

Buccaneers (2nd) v UCC (8th)

Dubarry Park, Saturday, 2.30pm

Second in the table against second-from-bottom, but such is the nip and tuck nature of the division that only six points currently separate Buccaneers and visitors UCC.

The Cork students had a stirring comeback victory over Ballymena, try scorer James Kiernan and goal-kicker Kevin O’Keeffe leading the way with key second half contributions.

You have to go back five years for the sides’ last league meeting – a 43-22 home victory for Buccs. Their current captain, number 8 Kolo Kiripati, is sidelined with an ear injury (sustained against Naas last week) that required considerable stitching.

Conor Joyce in action Ballynahinch's Conor Joyce. Source: Presseye/Matt Mackey/INPHO

Old Wesley (5th) v Ballynahinch (3rd)

Donnybrook, Saturday, 4pm

Old Wesley gave league leaders UL a really good test last week and will relish this encounter with former Division 1A dwellers Ballynahinch.

Wesley’s goal-kicking winger Barry McLaughlin is already top of the division’s scoring charts with 40 points, but they fell foul of Eddie Hogan O’Connell’s whistle in Limerick and must fare better tomorrow under visiting Italian referee Elio Rizzo.

Number 8 James Simpson captains much-changed ‘Hinch who travel without a host of frontliners, including Ulster ‘A’ representatives Johnny McPhillips, Angus Lloyd, Aaron Cairns, John Donnan and Lorcan Dow.

John Donnan in action with Lee Nicholas Shannon's Lee Nicholas reaches for a lineout. Source: Presseye/Matt Mackey/INPHO

Shannon (10th) v Naas (7th)

Thomond Park back pitch, Saturday, 4pm

Former Munster team-mates Marcus Horan and Johne Murphy go up as opposing coaches for the first time, with Horan’s Shannon looking to break a three-match losing streak.

They produced a big effort to pick up a losing bonus point away to Ballynahinch. Their rate of just one try per game has to be improved. Munster Academy winger Greg O’Shea is expected to play, although Stephen Fitzgerald underwent ankle surgery this week.

Naas’s late collapse saw them lose at home to Buccaneers. They can get back to winning ways here, especially if Fionn Carr adds to his two-try tally so far.

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Division 2A:

Galway Corinthians v Highfield

Corinthian Park, Saturday, 2.30pm

Malone v Banbridge

Gibson Park, Saturday, 2.30pm

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Nenagh Ormond v Queens University

New Ormond Park, Saturday, 2.30pm

Blackrock College v Belfast Harlequins

Stradbrook, Saturday, 4pm

Sundays Well v Cashel

Musgrave Park, Saturday, 4pm

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Division 2B:

Wanderers v Bective Rangers

Aviva Stadium, Friday, 7.30pm

Thomond v Dungannon

Liam Fitzgerald Park, Saturday, 12.30pm

Armagh v MU Barnhall

Palace Grounds, Saturday, 2.30pm

Greystones v City of Derry

Dr Hickey Park, Saturday, 4pm

Skerries v Old Crescent

Holmpatrick, Saturday, 4pm

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Division 2C:

Boyne v Midleton

Shamrock Lodge, Saturday, 2.30pm

Kanturk v Navan

Knocknacolon, Saturday, 2.30pm

Rainey v Seapoint

Hatrick Park, Saturday, 2.30pm

Bruff v Sligo

Kilballyowen Park, Saturday, 4pm

Tullamore v Bangor

Spollanstown, Saturday, 4pm

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Robbie Henshaw to make Leinster debut against Munster

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