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Dublin: 5 °C Monday 9 December, 2019

Here's your division 1A and 1B Ulster Bank League previews

You don’t even have to leave the house to watch UCD take on St Mary’s tonight.


DIVISION 1A: UCD v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE, Belfield, 7.30pm 

This fixture will be streamed live on

GIVEN THAT SIX Dublin clubs occupy the top flight, it comes as no surprise that proceedings in Division 1A will be kicked off with an inter-capital derby.

Marcus O'Driscoll with Barry Daly and Jamie Glynn Marcus O'Driscoll of Mary's with Barry Daly and Jamie Glynn of UCD during their January meeting. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

UCD have shown some good early season form in reaching the Leinster Senior Cup semi-finals, with back-three regulars Barry Daly and Andrew Boyle each scoring hat-tricks against Seapoint last week.

Impressive back rower Kevin Sheahan leads a St. Mary’s side hungry to get back to the heights of their 2012 title win. They did the double on UCD last season, but the students should gain revenge in this Irish Rugby TV-live streamed opener.

DIVISION 1B: GARRYOWEN v SHANNON, Dooradoyle, 7.30pm

These are changed times for the two Limerick giants – this is Shannon’s second season in Division 1B where they are now joined by Garryowen, who suffered top flight relegation for the first time last April.

Player-turned-coach Conan Doyle will be hoping Garryowen can continue where they left off last term when they stunned Old Belvedere with a 23-18 final day defeat.

View of tonight's game under lights at Dooradoyle Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

Like the Light Blues, Ian Sherwin’s Shannon have had to rely on younger, emerging players of late but out-half Tadhg Bennett remains a potential match winner and his kicking duel with Jamie Gavin could be decisive here.




Clontarf begin their title defence at home to Young Munster, knowing that no club since Shannon (2005-06) has retained the All-Ireland League crown.

Head coach Andy Wood has set his troops a new challenge of winning the league via the reintroduced play-off route, and they stand a decent chance despite some turnover in players.

Young Munster, now the only Limerick club in Division 1A, have brought in Rob Guerin and Martin Kelly. A tough first away trip for the Cookies, but it should be closer than their last visit to Castle Avenue – a 46-28 defeat.


Preview: Twelve months ago Lansdowne lost their opening home match to UCD and Mike Ruddock’s men will be determined to avoid such a result against Dolphin.

Newcomers Jack Dilger and Aaron Conneely bolster a back row contingent led by new Lansdowne captain Ron Boucher, while scrum half Adam Griggs has joined from Blackrock.

Staging Saturday’s clash on the Aviva Stadium’s main pitch will whet appetites for the final in May, and Dolphin, who had a Cork Charity Cup walkover last week, may struggle against their more battle-hardened hosts.


Another Dublin-Cork match-up and two teams with serious ambitions of finishing in the top four – Old Belvedere were runners-up last year, while Cork Constitution are Bateman Cup holders.

Josh Glynn’s 19-point haul helped ‘Belvo beat St. Mary’s in the Leinster Senior Cup last week, but Darragh Lyons has been equally influential for Con in recent outings.

Cork Con players dejected late in the game Cork Con players react during their clash with Dolphin last November. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

This fixture is traditionally a tight one, there was a 3-3 draw last term and Steve Crosbie steered the Dubliners to a 26-24 win in Cork. Home advantage should swing it ‘Belvo’s way this time.


An interesting first Division 1A test for Terenure College whose perfect 18-from-18 record last season saw them power their way to promotion.

It was a different story for Ballynahinch who had to battle hard to avoid relegation. Derek Suffern’s side are a resilient bunch and their new signings include Chris Quinn and Kenny Morton and Ulster’s Charlie Butterworth will also be available to them.

‘Nure boast a settled squad – James Thornton, Adam Clarkin and Lucas Machin from Oyonnax are among their newcomers – and they should win their first top flight game since 2009.



Promoted Ballymena could make quite a statement of intent if they overcome Corinthians, a team that finished fourth last season after such a terrific start.

The Braidmen, coached by Andy Graham, have brought in out-half Ritchie McMaster from Queen’s University and back rower Stephen Mulholland returns from Rainey Old Boys.

Gavin Duffy Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Pat Cunningham has taken over as Corinthians’ head coach, assisted by Gavin Duffy (backs) and Sean Duignan (forwards), and they will want to hit the ground running after losing 38-11 to neighbours Galwegians in the Connacht Senior League.


Having won Division 2A last year and recently retained their Connacht Senior League title, Galwegians enter this campaign in buoyant mood under new head coach Matt Brown.

The ‘Wegians coaching ticket also includes Connacht’s John Muldoon and Brian Murphy, Brian McClearn and captain Ja Naughton remain key playing figures.

Niyi Adeolokun’s recent debut for Connacht has given Trinity a timely boost – as will their upcoming opening of the new College Park pitch – but Galwegians are favoured to come out on top on Saturday.


The returning Alan Gaughan could be a prominent figure for his home club Buccaneers when they meet Malone in Belfast.

Competition for places at Dubarry Park is high as Tony Dolan’s youngsters embark on another tilt at promotion – they finished second to all-conquering Terenure last season.

Conor Joyce in action with Oliver Loughead Conor Joyce makes yards against Harlequins last season. Source: Presseye/Matt Mackey/INPHO

However, Jacques Benade’s Malone look in better form of late – centre Josh Pentland and number 8 Conor Joyce in particular – and should prevail in a hard-fought game.


An intriguing tie to close off the Division 1B schedule as UL Bohemians entertain Adam Larkin’s Belfast Harlequins.

Both UL and Harlequins have good foundations from last season (finishing third and sixth respectively) and the sides shared one win each with Bohs triumphing 23-17 at Annacotty.

Bohs were stung by Thomond last week in the Limerick Charity Cup and a big reaction is expected – and will be needed – against a fired-up ‘Quins side.

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated

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