Cup and Shield hopefuls face key games in bid to reach penultimate stage
While the Rugby World Cup build-up has cornered most attention since early August, the domestic club programme has also been up and running for the past couple of weeks.
The Ulster Bank League gets under way next weekend and Leinster clubs have been using the Senior League Cup and Shield as preparation for the national competition.
The Senior League Cup is divided into three Sections with the three winners along with the best runners-up qualifying for the October semi-finals while the Shield is more straightforward as the top two in each of the two Sections make it through to the play-offs.
And while some clubs have already booked their passage to the penultimate stage, there are still a number of decisive games in both competitions on this weekend. UCD and Old Wesley have somewhat surprisingly dominated Section A considering AIL runners-up Clontarf were the top seed but the northsiders lost narrowly to both the students and the Branch tenants.
Tonight at Belfield, UCD host Old Wesley with the winners guaranteed to advance but the losers will have to wait on other results, while tomorrow Clontarf travel to Skerries with both clubs focused on their AIL kick-off a week hence.
Old Belvedere are top of Section B after a pair of victories against Lansdowne and Blackrock College, and they travel to Parsonstown tomorrow to take on bottom side MU Barnhall knowing that a win will take them through to the semi-finals.
Blackrock College host Lansdowne at Stradbrook tonight with the visitors realistically chasing the best runners-up position although a win for the home side would propel them into second place but most likely without enough points to progress if they did.
Terenure College have consolidated their good AIL form of last season as they head Section C following successes against St Mary's College and Dublin University, and it's highly likely that when you read this they will have achieved a play-off spot with victory away to Naas at Forenaughts in a game played last night.
The scrap for second place and possible advancement will be in Templeville Road tomorrow when Dublin University visit St Mary's.
Three of the four semi-finalists in the Senior League Shield are already known with Bective Rangers and Greystones having qualified from Section A and the winner was decided when the pair met at Dr Hickey Park last night.
When Navan and Boyne play tomorrow, it will not just be for pride and preparation for the AIL a week later but it will be the centrepiece of 'Brugha na Bóinne', a big festival of rugby for youths and adults in both clubs.
Finally, Wanderers have scooped top honours in Section B having won all their three matches against Seapoint, Tullamore and Dundalk and the remaining game tomorrow between Tullamore and their visitors Dundalk will decide who joins them in the semi-finals.