Club scene - the AIL uncovered
Cork Constitution v Old Belvedere, Temple Hill, 2.30
Published 01/03/2014 | 02:30
It's second (Old Belvedere) versus third (Cork Con) in Cork this afternoon as both sides look to keep in touch with league leaders Clontarf, who face a potential banana skin at home to a resurgent Dolphin side.
When Con travelled to Belvo back in October, the 3-3 draw failed to grab any of the headlines.
The Dublin side are unbeaten since their only defeat of the season back in mid-October and are level on points with local rivals Clontarf. Much of their good form has been down to the outstanding performances of No 8 Jack Conan, who made a try-scoring, man-of-the-match debut for Leinster last weekend.
Belvo should welcome Conan back into their side given that he hasn't been named in Leinster's match day squad to face Glasgow this evening.
Con will be looking to bounce back from their derby defeat to Dolphin last time out but will take plenty of confidence from the fact that, prior to that defeat, they travelled to Dublin and beat Clontarf. Con manager Tom Mulcahy will have to plan without Gerry Hurley, who is named on Munster's bench for their Pro12 game against Scarlets.
Con trail Belvo and Clontarf by nine points and can ill afford to slip further behind if they harbour any realistic title hopes.
Danny Riordan and Shaun Beirne are both in fine form in what is a very dynamic Old Belvedere back-line and they could well prove to be the difference between the two sides.
Verdict: Old Belvedere
Having lost their first 10 league games, Garryowen have now won two games on the bounce. Their 18-9 win over fellow relegation strugglers Ballynahinch could prove to be the crucial turning point of the Sky Blues' campaign come the end of the season.
Tom Tierney's side followed that up with victory in the Limerick derby against Young Munster last time out. It is still early days in their revival, but Garryowen go into their game against UCD today quietly confident.
The introduction of Eddie O'Sullivan to the coaching team has undoubtedly made a huge difference and they will be looking to make it three consecutive wins to further boost their survival hopes.
ROLLAND BACK IN ACTION
Alain Rolland refereed his 66th and final international Test match last weekend in the Millennium Stadium. One of the most respected officials in the modern game, Rolland will take charge of the game of the weekend between Cork Con and Old Belvedere.
With the highlight of his career undoubtedly refereeing the 2007 World Cup final, Rolland has, however, never shunned his duties to Irish club game.
NUMBER OF THE DAY
64 The points difference that separates Clontarf from Old Belvedere at the top of Division 1A.
Ulster Bank League Fixtures
(2.30 unless stated)
Ballynahinch v St Mary's, Ballymacarn Park; Clontarf v Dolphin, Castle Avenue; Cork Con v Old Belvedere, Temple Hill; UCD v Garryowen, Belfield; Young Munster v Lansdowne, Tom Clifford Park.
Blackrock College v Belfast Harlequins, Stradbrook; Corinthians v Dungannon, Corinthian Park; Dublin University v UL Bohemians, Sydney Parade; Malone v Terenure College, Gibson Park; Shannon v Buccaneers, Coonagh.
Ballymena v Seapoint, Eaton Park; Banbridge v Old Crescent, Rifle Park; Bective Rangers v Rainey OB, Donnybrook; Cashel v Old Wesley, Spafield; Galwegians v City of Derry, Crowley Park; Highfield v Bruff, Woodleigh Park; Queens v UCC, Dub Lane.
Ards v Thomond, Hamilton Park; DLS Palmerston v Boyne, Kirwan Park; Midleton v Greystones, Towns Park; Nenagh Ormond v Armagh, New Ormond Park; Richmond v Instonians, Richmond Park; Sundays Well v Navan RFC, Musgrave Park; Suttonians v Sligo, JJ McDowell Memorial Grounds; Tullamore v Skerries, Spollanstown.