Published 09/11/2012 | 05:00
All-Ireland League uncovered
Game of the Night
Clontarf v Lansdowne, (Castle Avenue, 7.30)
LANSDOWNE came out of the blocks like a train, but Mike Ruddock's side hit a hurdle last week and all eyes will be on their ability to recover.
The abiding feeling around the Aviva Stadium last weekend was one of shock after the league leaders controlled the game for large stretches, only for Cork Constitution to strike late and inflict a first defeat of the season on the Dubliners.
Having emerged as early title contenders, they face a stern examination at Castle Avenue. 'Tarf started slowly, but wins over UL Bohs at home and Young Munster away have had a restorative effect and Andy Wood's men will be confident of making it three-in-a-row on home soil and under lights.
They will need to stymie the prolific Lansdowne attack, with Cian Aherne (pictured above) the man to stop. The former UCD winger has scored six tries in four games and is the top-flight's most lethal player this season.
Clontarf's beefy pack will be looking to start flexing their muscles. Winning in Limerick is not something that comes easy, so they will have grown in confidence this week.
Losing their first two matches has them playing catch-up, but it also means they are desperate for results. After last season's disappointment, they came in as one of the favourites and they'll be looking to justify that tag.
Verdict: Home win
Brian Walsh (Cork Con)
While there are increasing numbers of former pros trying their hand at coaching this season, former Munster centre Walsh (right) has seen and done it all. And he must be over the moon at the recent performances of his revamped Cork Constitution, who look like threatening again this season.
Walsh has had to completely reinvigorate his side after losing so many players to Munster and the rule changes on the use of contracted players severely tested his options.
By inflicting Lansdowne's first defeat of the season last week, they showed that they can beat anyone and, with Walsh at the helm, they have plenty of experience to draw on.
Con don't often go into derbies behind Dolphin, but their record against their city rivals is top notch and they will be confident of securing a result.
KEOGH FIRST CASUALTY AT SHANNON
Stephen Keogh became the first managerial casualty of the new season after his Shannon side fell to their fourth heavy defeat of the season to relegation rivals Old Belvedere last weekend. The former Leinster and Munster No 8 will be temporarily replaced by U-21 coaches James Hickey and Brian Twohey as they search for a more long-term replacement.
Ulster Bank League Fixtures
Division 1A: Clontarf v Lansdowne, Castle Avenue; Cork Constitution v Dolphin, Temple Hill; Garryowen v Shannon, Dooradoyle; St Mary's College v Old Belvedere, Templeville Road; UL Bohemian v Young Munster, Annacotty.
Division 1B: Ballynahinch v Dungannon, Ballymacarn Park; Belfast Harlequins v Ballymena, Deramore Park; Buccaneers v Bruff, Dubarry Park; UCD v Blackrock College, Belfield.
Division 2A: Galwegians v Corinthians, Crowley Park.
The number of cross-city derbies taking place across Divisions 1A and 1B under lights tonight , guaranteeing exciting fare for all in attendance.