All Ireland League Rugby Division 1A Previews

While much of the rugby focus this weekend may be on the Irish provinces in European competition, there is All Ireland League Division 1A action on Saturday with some key games down for decision.

Garryowen v UCC, Dooradoyle, 2pm

Limerick side Garryowen are on a four-match winning streak in the league and have qualified for the Bateman Cup Final, having defeated Lansdowne in last weekend’s semi-final.

UCC head coach Brian Walsh makes three changes to his side as the students seek revenge for a 12-14 loss to the Light Blues prior to Christmas. Crosshaven’s Bryan O’Connor comes in at tighthead prop, Andrew Davies is back into the second row and Lee McSherry replaces Ireland Under-20 call-up John Hodnett in the back row.

Clontarf v Young Munster, Castle Avenue, 2.30pm

Third-placed Clontarf are seeking a season’s double over their opponents to keep on course for the play-offs and will want a strong showing on Saturday after losing their last home league match to Dublin University.

The Cookies have a promising crop of young players, including four Ireland U-20 call-ups, and will benefit from the presence of Munster Rugby’s Gavin Coombes at number 8 and Calvin Nash on the right wing. Backs coach Derek Corcoran, who starts at outside centre, Jack Harrington and Mark O’Mara complete the changes.

Brian Deeny and his Clontarf team-mate David Hawkshaw have been named as part of the Ireland Under-20s Six Nations squad.

Cork Constitution v Terenure College, Temple Hill, 2.30pm

Table-toppers Cork Con resume their league campaign five points ahead of defending champions Lansdowne. Despite Terenure being boosted by the availability of Jake Swaine and Harrison Brewer, the Munster side will be expected to defeat the League’s 10th-placed side.

Full-back Matthew Byrne’s six-try haul almost accounts for a third of Terenure’s points tally so far in Division 1A, while there has been a wider contribution to Con’s tries with forwards Patrick Casey and Joe McSwiney both touching down twice in the last three rounds.

Lansdowne V Dublin University, Aviva Stadium back pitch, 2.30pm

Tom Daly is one of five changes to the Lansdowne team as he lines up alongside Harry Brennan in midfield, with Daniel McEvoy and Alan Bennie added to the back-line.

Martin Mulhall and Tom Murphy are the two incoming players up front for Mike Ruddock’s men who are unbeaten in the league since mid-October, while twelve of Trinity’s players have been named in the Ireland Under-20 squad or the Ireland Students squad.

UCD v Shannon, Belfield Bowl, 2.30pm

UCD’s team sees former Munster U-20 captain Paul Kiernan, Cillian Burke and Nick Peters brought into the back-line, with Sam Griffin, Brian Cawley and blindside Cian Prendergast all added to the pack.

Saturday will be Shannon’s first trip to Belfield since March 2008 when they claimed a 45-14 win. Former Limerick Gaelic footballer Stephen Kelly scored a hat-trick of tries that day, with Shannon’s current backs coach David O’Donovan kicking three conversions.


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