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Dublin: 5 °C Sunday 24 February, 2019
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Young Munster welcome leaders Lansdowne as UBL swings back into action

Meanwhile, Tom Hayes will take the reins as Shannon boss for the first time tomorrow.

IT’S BACK. AND not a moment too soon. Your favourite province may not be in action this weekend, but there is no shortage of action on the club scene to get along to.

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated

DIVISION 1A:

Young Munster (3rd) v Lansdowne (1st), Tom Clifford Park

This is the tie of the round as Young Munster and table toppers Lansdowne look horns again, just a few weeks on from an eight-try thriller which saw the hosts triumph 30-24 on the Aviva Stadium’s back pitch.

Dan McEvoy with Ger Slattery Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

The exchanges between these two packs are worth the admission price alone, but both back-lines are also in fine fettle. Look out for Munsters centre Jack Harrington and Lansdowne winger Daniel McEvoy who have scored four tries apiece so far.

Lansdowne head coach Mike Ruddock said: “Whoever hits the ground running will have the advantage. As a coach, I’ve never won down there (at Tom Clifford Park). We won last time out, but it took a spectacular try (from Marc O’Keefe) to beat them. It was a massively open and physical game.”

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Young Munster: LWWLWWWLL; Lansdowne: WWLLWWWWW

Ulster Bank League Top Scorers:

Young Munster: Points: David O’Mahony 72; Tries: Rob Guerin, Jack Harrington 4 each.

Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 100; Tries: Daniel McEvoy 4

Dublin University (7th) v Clontarf (5th), College Park

Dublin University are hoping to release a lot of frustration built up over the winter break following their last two league outings – heavy defeats to Cork Constitution (30-10) and tomorrow’s opponents Clontarf (33-0).

They have slid down to seventh as a result – although the gap between themselves and fourth-placed Garryowen is only two points – and Colm Hogan and Jack Kelly’s Ireland U20 call-ups come at a bad time.

However, the students are always tough to beat on their home patch and Clontarf, with six-try centre Matt D’Arcy in sizzling form, know they will have to maintain the high standards of that round 9 game in order to complete the double.

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Dublin University: WLWWWLWLL; Clontarf: WLLWLLLWW

Ulster Bank League Top Scorers:

Dublin University: Points: Jack McDermott 65; Tries: Colm Hogan 6.

Clontarf: Points: Rob Keogh 68; Tries: Matt D’Arcy 6

St Mary’s College (9th) v Old Belvedere (6th), Templeville Road

St. Mary’s have three of their young guns in the Ireland U20 Six Nations squad – Jordan Larmour, Conor Dean and Caelan Doris – all of whom started last month’s 15-0 away defeat to Old Belvedere.

That was Mary’s fourth loss in a row and ominously, ‘Belvo come calling on the back of last week’s excellent 44-14 Bateman Cup semi-final win over Ballynahinch.

Out-half Willie Staunton and number 8 David Sherry both wielded a lot of influence in attack. Notably, Mary’s are winless at home in the league this season and Paul Cunningham’s Belvedere side have already claimed some big scalps on the road in 2016/17 after defeating Young Munster, Lansdowne and Clontarf.

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: St. Mary’s College: LWLWWLLLL; Old Belvedere: WLWWWLLLW

Ulster Bank League Top Scorers

St. Mary’s College: Points: Sean Kearns 47; Tries: David Fanagan, Terry Kennedy, Darren Moroney, Cathal O’Flaherty, Ryan O’Loughlin, David O’Connor 2 each.

Old Belvedere: Points: Willie Staunton 54; Tries: Shane McDonald 3

Terenure College (10th) v Garryowen (4th), Lakelands Park.

Conan Doyle’s Garryowen enter the New Year with plenty going for them, lying fourth in the table and chasing their fourth victory on the trot this weekend.

Conan Doyle Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

It is the opposite case for bottom side Terenure who are in desperate need of a change in fortunes. They certainly have the talent to arrest their slide, but their defence has been a real weakness of late with an average of 31 points leaked across their last four outings.

The Munster Academy’s Steven McMahon was the star man when these sides met last month, whizzing in for a hat-trick of tries in Garryowen’s 41-26 win. They have to be favoured to make it back-to-back triumphs.

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Terenure College: LLWLLLLLL; Garryowen: LWWLLLWWW

Ulster Bank League Top Scorers

Terenure College: Points: Jake Swaine 63; Tries: Jake Swaine, James O’Neill 3 each.

Garryowen: Points: Neil Cronin 74; Tries: David Johnston, Liam Coombes, Steven McMahon 3 each

UCD (8th) v Cork Constitution (2nd), Belfield Bowl

Cork Constitution are scoring for fun of late, showing the benefits of a consistently strong pack, a high quality kicker and some classy finishers out wide. They averaged 40 points in the last two rounds and also demolished Buccaneers 63-0 in a one-sided Bateman Cup semi-final.

UCD will want to quickly banish memories of their 50-25 thrashing on Leeside. Their top try scorers include teenage centre and Ireland Under-20 squad member Tommy O’Brien, who has been a real bright spark for them recently.

Shane Daly scores a try Shane Daly scoring a try last season. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

However, they could be in for another long afternoon as second-placed Con really have the Indian sign over the students. Brian Hickey’s men were 58-15 winners on their most recent trip to Belfield last February.

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: UCD: LWLLLWLWL; Cork Constitution: WLLWWWWWW

Ulster Bank League Top Scorers

UCD: Points: Cillian Burke 27; Tries: Jamie Glynn, Tommy O’Brien, Tom Fletcher 4 each.

Cork Constitution: Points: Tomas Quinlan 104; Tries: Shane Daly 5

DIVISION 1B:

Naas (5th) v Old Wesley (3rd), Forenaights, tonight 8pm

Five points separate these teams in the table at present, Old Wesley holding the edge following their 19-16 win under the Donnybrook floodlights in early December.

The ever-accurate boot of winger Barry McLaughlin proved decisive for Wesley that night, his 76th minute penalty topping off his 14-point match tally and bringing his season’s haul to a stunning 117 points already.

But given how close a game that was, Johne Murphy’s Naas will be quietly confident of overturning that result with home advantage. They will hope for more of the same from second row David Benn who crossed for two tries last time out.

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Naas: WLLWWWLWL; Old Wesley: WWLWWWLDW

Ulster Bank League Top Scorers

Naas: Points: Peter Osborne 53; Tries: Fionn Carr 5;

Old Wesley: Points: Barry McLaughlin 117; Tries: Ger Finucane, Paul Harte 4 each

Ballynahinch (6th) v Dolphin (9th), Ballymacarn Park

Ballynahinch will be happy to be back at home after last week’s 44-14 Bateman Cup semi-final humbling at the hands of Old Belvedere in Dublin. Another significant positive is the availability of a number of provincial players.

Back from British & Irish Cup duty with Ulster ‘A’ are the likes of John Donnan, Lorcan Dow, Conor Joyce and David Busby, while Munster have also released scrum half Angus Lloyd.

David Busby Busby on Ulster duty against Canada A in August. Source: Presseye/Brian Little/INPHO

Last month’s duel down in Cork was a great contest, with ‘Hinch outscoring Dolphin by four tries to three. It was in the second half that Derek Suffern’s side broke free, with Lloyd slipping through for a late bonus point score.

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Ballynahinch: WLWLLWLLW; Dolphin: LLWLLLWWL

Ulster Bank League Top Scorers:

Ballynahinch: Points: Chris Quinn 41; Tries: Jordan Grattan, Sam Windsor, Davy Nicholson 3 each.

Dolphin: Points: Barry Keeshan 42; Tries: John Fitzgerald, Ryan Murphy 3 each

Shannon (10th) Galwegians (7th), Thomond Park back pitch

It is a big day for former captain Tom Hayes – brother of John – as he takes the reins for his first league match as Shannon head coach. Already part of the current coaching set-up as defence/line-out coach, he was announced as Marcus Horan’s replacement a fortnight ago.

Tom Hayes shakes hands with Kevin McLaughlin Tom Hayes was part of the Exeter side facing Leinster in 2012. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Hayes will be hoping to get the required backlash after last month’s 53-12 hammering by Galwegians. Shannon may be bottom but the three sides above them are all within a six-point range.

‘Wegians really took advantage of a depleted Shannon outfit that day, with classy centre Cormac Brennan collecting his fifth and six tries after nine rounds. Their first away win of the season looks the likely outcome here.

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Shannon: LLLLLWLDL; Galwegians: LWLLLLLLW

Ulster Bank League Top Scorers:

Shannon: Points: Ronan McKenna 42; Tries: Shane Mullally 3.

Galwegians: Points: Aidan Moynihan 35; Tries: Cormac Brennan 6

UCC (8th) v UL Bohemians (2nd), the Mardyke, 3pm

The two student clubs from Munster will renew rivalries, with UCC proving extremely tough to beat on their recent trip to UL. It took a Robbie Bourke penalty via the last kick of the game for Bohs to prevail 18-17.

The scrum battle will be one to savour, especially if young UL loosehead Joe Conway, who was named in the Ireland Under-20 squad this week, and UCC’s Peter McCabe, who is now on loan at injury-hit Connacht, are involved again.

A third straight defeat would be a big blow for UCC as they try to stay out of the bottom two, but they can take inspiration from their home wins over Ballymena and Shannon along with impressive flanker Conor Barry’s four-try haul.

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: UCC: LLWLWLWLL; UL Bohemians: WWWWWLWLW

Ulster Bank League Top Scorers:

UCC: Points: Kevin O’Keeffe 73; Tries: Conor Barry 4.

UL Bohemians: Points: Rick McKenna 61; Tries: Jamie McNamara, Finbar Aherne 5 each

Buccaneers (1st) v Ballymena (4th), Dubarry park, 19.30

Eight wins in a row have Buccaneers leading the charge for promotion, but they are now entering a crucial four-week phase with three clashes with top four rivals and a Connacht derby against Galwegians.

Jordan Conroy on his way to scoring his second try 10/12//2016 Jordan Conroy makes a break when Connacht Eagles faced an Ospreys selection. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Buccs carved out a niggly 18-13 win when they travelled to Ballymena in early December and will welcome back some of their Connacht Eagles contingent for the return leg, along with top-scoring winger Jordan Conroy who missed that round 9 game.

With ground to make up on their promotion rivals, Ballymena are banking on a strong starting line-up with a number of players back from Ulster or Ulster ‘A’ duty. Ricky Lutton joins fellow prop Bryan Young in the front row, while Alan O’Connor slots into the second row and Connor Smyth, Stephen Mulholland and Matthew Rea form a dynamic back row trio.

Ulster Bank League Season’s Form: Buccaneers: LWWWWWWWW; Ballymena: WWLWLLWWL

Ulster Bank League Top Scorers:

Buccaneers: Points: Alan Gaughan 78; Tries: Jordan Conroy 8.

Ballymena: Points: Mark Best 37; Tries: Rodger McBurney, Mark Best, James Beattie 4 each

Division 2A

Galway Corinthians v Banbridge
Highfield v Cashel RFC
Malone v Blackrock College
Nenagh Ormond v Sundays Well
Queens University v Belfast Harlequins

Division 2B

Skerries v Wanderers (Tonight, 19.30)
Armagh v Graystones
Dungannon v City of Derry
MU Barnhall v Bective Rangers
Thomond v Old Crescent

Division 2C

Bruff v Bangor
Kanturk v Rainey
Navan RFC v Midleton
Sligo v Seapoint
Tullamore v Boyne

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