Published 01/12/2012 | 05:00
The All-Ireland League Uncovered
GAME OF THE WEEKEND
Garryowen v St Mary's College, (Dooradoyle, 2.30)
The defending champions head to Limerick desperately in need of a win to boost their stuttering title defence. They edged past winless Shannon in their last trip Shannonside, with Kevin Croke and Steve Toal-Lennon touching down, but this time around they face one of the form teams in the league in Garryowen.
The Tom Tierney/Paul Neville-coached side have lost just once in their six outings, when UL Bohs beat them in Thomond Park, and they lie in second place just two points behind leaders Lansdowne. They won away to Young Munster last time and, even though it's early in the season, they look well placed for their first top-half finish since 2009.
St Mary's win over Shannon brought to an end a miserable four-game losing streak, and that could give them the shot in the arm they need to rediscover the form that made them champions last season. They will also take heart from the fact that they beat the Limerick men twice last season.
But Dooradoyle has become a fortress once more for Garryowen. Of the three teams to have visited the Limerick venue, only Old Belvedere with two tries, have crossed the whitewash, with both Dolphin and Shannon relying on the boot for their scores.
That miserly defence means that Garryowen can bring 2012 to a close on a high note and St Mary's search for the form of 2011-2012 will continue.
Verdict: Home win
Andy Dunne (Old Belvedere)
After picking up a wealth of experience in a playing career that brought him to Leinster, Connacht, Bath and Harlequins, it was no surprise that Belvo turned to Dunne when they found themselves in trouble last season.
After the side that won the league two seasons ago had broken up, Dunne took over from Phil Werahiko and inherited a side that had lost 10 times in 11 games.
They did enough to stave off relegation but they might have feared another basement battle after losing their first three games in this campaign. However, Belvo have got their campaign on track and find themselves at the business end of the competition.
Wesley fight night
Wesley welcome Cashel to Donnybrook for their Division 2A clash today, but later on two of their former players, Ross Johnson and Matt Crockett, will don boxing gloves in a bid to raise money for Motor Neurone Disease Ireland.
The pair have been training for eight weeks under the watchful eye of Irish High Performance boxing coach Eddie Bolger and will go toe-to-toe in the Leopardstown pavilion tonight in aid of the charity.
A total of 18 bouts are down for decision; tickets cost €20 and can be purchased by calling 1800 403 403.
Paul Cusack RIP
Leinster Branch president Ben Gormley has requested a 'moment's reflection' be observed in all club games in the province this weekend to mark the passing of Paul Cusack, who died suddenly last Wednesday.
Cusack was an active member of Leinster Rugby Referees, while also serving as fixture secretary with Tallaght Rugby Club. He played SCT for Templeogue College in the late 1990s before cementing strong associations with St Mary's College, Emerald Warriors and Garda Rugby Clubs.
May he rest in peace.
The numbers game
1 -- The number of points separating third and seventh place in a tight Division 1A before the start of this weekend's action.