Here’s a preview of the All-Ireland League ties taking place on Saturday, with all games scheduled to kick off at 2.30pm.
CLONTARF (2nd) v DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (4th), Castle Avenue
All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Clontarf: WWWWWWL; Dublin University: LDLWWWL
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Clontarf: Points: David Joyce 46; Tries: Mick McGrath, Cormac Daly, Sean O’Brien, Cian O’Donoghue, Matt D’Arcy 2 each; Dublin University: Points: James Fennelly 66; Tries: Robert Russell, Michael Silvester 3 each
This All-Ireland League encounter doubles up as a Leinster Senior Cup quarter-final, and Dublin University boss Tony Smeeth has strengthened his line-up with the return of recent Leinster debutant Jack Kelly and fit-again captain Colm Hogan in the back-three.
Both Clontarf and Trinity are looking to rebound from losses last weekend, ‘Tarf losing their unbeaten record with a lacklustre finish against Cork Constitution. The north Dublin club are hosting a Family Fun Day today and will want a result to match the off-field entertainment.
The students will see plenty of familiar faces in the Clontarf line-up, including Angus Lloyd, Michael Courtney, their captain last season, and Paddy Finlay, with the latter two starting for Trinity in their 29-24 loss at the same venue a year ago.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, December 2, 2017: Clontarf 29 Dublin University 24, Castle Avenue; Saturday, December 9, 2017: Dublin University 13 Clontarf 17, College Park
CORK CONSTITUTION (1st) v YOUNG MUNSTER (8th), Temple Hill
All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Cork Constitution: WWWLWWW; Young Munster: WLWLLLD
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Cork Constitution: Points: Aidan Moynihan 52; Tries: JJ O’Neill, Rob Jermyn 4 each; Young Munster: Points: Clayton Stewart 46; Tries: Darragh O’Neill 5
Cork Constitution are back home for the first time in three rounds, having ousted Clontarf as league leaders. Out-half Aidan Moynihan played a pivotal role in their terrific comeback win at ‘Tarf, kicking 11 points to take his season’s haul to 52.
Young Munster’s discipline let them down against UCD and they cannot afford a repeat performance. The 34-all draw did at least put a stop to their three-match losing run, and winger Darragh O’Neill again showed his poaching skills with a fine chip-and-chase try – his fifth of the league season.
Munsters certainly reserve some of their best performances for Cork Con, who have lost their last four league meetings with the Cookies, including a dramatic 20-19 result at Temple Hill last year. They outscored Con by three tries to one that day and had a decisive last-gasp penalty from out-half Shane Airey.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 28, 2017: Cork Constitution 19 Young Munster 20, Temple Hill; Saturday, February 17, 2018: Young Munster 15 Cork Constitution 11, Tom Clifford Park
LANSDOWNE (3rd) v UCC (9th), Aviva Stadium back pitch
All-Ireland League Season’s Form: Lansdowne: LLWWWWW; UCC: LLLLLLW
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Lansdowne: Points: Harry Byrne 38; Tries: Eamonn Mills 5; UCC: Points: James Taylor 48; Tries: John Poland 4
This rare match-up brings back memories of Landowne’s first ever league outing on the Aviva Stadium’s back pitch, a 61-13 demolition of UCC back in October 2010.
Current stalwart Willie Earle got amongst the tries along with future Ireland internationals John Cooney, Dave Kearney and Matt Healy.
Another of Lansdowne’s long-serving players, prop Ian Prendiville, made his 100th league appearance in their 32-15 win at Shannon last Saturday.
Their enviable strength in depth sees Tom Daly, Mark O’Keeffe, Scott Deasy, Oisin Dowling and Joe O’Brien come in as starters this afternoon.
Ending their losing run in their Colours match against Trinity was a huge boost for UCC, and Brian Walsh rotates his squad this week to give opportunities to Adam O’Connor, Michael Clune and Colin Sisk behind the scrum. Paidi McCarthy, Brian O’Mahony, Lee McSherry and Fergus Hennessy also come into the pack.
Recent League Meetings – Saturday, October 9, 2010: Lansdowne 61 UCC 13, Aviva Stadium back pitch; Saturday, January 29, 2011: UCC 16 Lansdowne 11, the Mardyke
UCD (7th) v TERENURE COLLEGE (10th), Belfield Bowl
All-Ireland League Season’s Form: UCD: WDLWLLD; Terenure College: LLLWLLL
All-Ireland League Top Scorers – UCD: Points: Matthew Gilsenan 29; Tries: Ronan Foley 4; Terenure College: Points: Matthew Byrne 25; Tries: Matthew Byrne 5
UCD are set to be bolstered by the availability of Hugo Keenan and Jimmy O’Brien. The pair are poised to start at full-back and outside centre, fresh from scoring three of Leinster’s tries against the Dragons last Saturday.
Academy scrum half Paddy Patterson, who made his provincial debut in Newport, is another one of the five personnel changes to the UCD side that drew with Young Munster. Andy Skehan’s youngsters are hoping to pull off their first win in four rounds.
Bottom-placed Terenure are even more in need of a victory, succumbing to their second one-point defeat of the season last week against Garryowen. Jamie Glynn and James Thornton will be looking to triumph against their former club, while ‘Nure full-back Matthew Byrne – Keenan and O’Brien’s former Ireland Under-20 team-mate – has a sixth league try in his sights.
Recent League Meetings – Friday, November 10, 2017: Terenure College 17 UCD 22, Lakelands Park; Saturday, January 6, 2018: UCD 26 Terenure College 31, Belfield Bowl