Monday 11 December 2017

All-Ireland League Uncovered

game OF THE DAY

Conor Gilsenan, Leinster
Conor Gilsenan, Leinster
Sam Coghlan Murray, Leinster
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

LEAGUE leaders going into the weekend, UCD face their sternest examination yet as they welcome fourth-placed Dolphin to Belfield.

BELFIELD BOWL, 2.30

LEAGUE leaders going into the weekend, UCD face their sternest examination yet as they welcome fourth-placed Dolphin to Belfield.

Unbeaten in their three games to date, Bobby Byrne's newly promoted side have started the season as they finished the last, and their only regret is their inability to pick up any try-scoring bonuses along the way.

Dolphin will present them with a physical challenge and will have a chip on their shoulder after losing their unbeaten record narrowly at home to Clontarf last weekend.

The Cork side will want to dominate the students up front and prevent a backline that includes the talents of Barry Daly and Sam Coghlan-Murray (pictured) from thriving. But unlike some of their predecessors, this UCD team have a strong pack with plenty of muscle in and around the breakdown, where Dan Leavy and Conor Gilsenan have been prominent.

Having been slated as pre-season favourites by the bookmakers, UCD have met expectations in their opening games, but the longer they are at the top the more they will be targeted by their opponents.

Denied the talents of Cian Bohane, who is with Munster, Dolphin coach Steve Ford will be looking for big displays from academy charges Darren Sweetnam and Rory Scannell, while Barry Keeshan will be as important as ever.

A bonus point in defeat would represent a good result, but they'll be looking to rattle the early pace-setters.

Verdict: Home win

CLUB CUBS GETTING

THEIR CHANCE

Three Leinster-based clubmen got an opportunity to learn from the best this week as Joe Schmidt invited them to join the Ireland squad at training.

UCD pair Conor Gilsenan (pictured) and Sam Coghlan-Murray joined St Mary's Darren Hudson in the national camp to make up the numbers and get a taste for life at the very top of the game.

Gilsenan, in particular, is someone who may not have to wait too long to return to Carton House. After a strong start to the season with the students, he was handed the captaincy of Leinster's 'A' side in the British & Irish Cup and, while he has plenty of talented back-rows ahead of him at the province, has the talent to make the breakthrough and go to the top.

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION

AT TOM CLIFFORD PARK

The IRFU have added a new string to their bow when it comes to their Ulster Bank All-Ireland League coverage by having a camera covering one game each week so far this season.

They got a tad unlucky with last week's choice when they headed to Old Belvedere's 3-3 draw with Cork Con, but they'll be hoping for better from Young Munster's meeting with Belvo at Tom Clifford Park this weekend – the highlights can be viewed on irishrugby.ie.

NUMBER OF THE WEEK

2 UCD and Cork Constitution are the only sides who remain unbeaten after three games, showing that Division 1A remains as competitive as ever.

ULSTER BANK ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE FIXTURES

(2.30 UNLESS STATED)

TODAY

DIVISION 1A

Ballynahinch v Lansdowne, Ballymacarn Park; Cork Con v Garryowne, Temple Hill; UCD v Dolphin, Belfield; Young Munster v Old Belvedere, Tom Clifford Park.

DIVISION 1B

Belfast Harlequins v Blackrock, Dermaore Park; Buccaneers v Shannon, Dubarry Park; Dungannon v Corinthians, Stevenson Park; Terenure v Malone, Lakelands Park; UL Bohemians v Dublin University, Annacotty.

DIVISION 2A

Ballymena v Old Wesley, Eaton Park; Banbridge v UCC, Rifle Park; Bective Rangers v City of Derry, Donnybrook; Galwegians v Queens University, Crowley Park; Highfield v Cashel, Woodleigh Park; Naas v Seapoint, Forenaughts; NUIM Barnhall v Old Crescent, Parsonstown; Rainey OB v Bruff, Hatrick Park.

DIVISION 2B

DLS Palmerston v Midleton, Kirwan Park; Instonians v Greystones, Shaws Bridge; Richmond v Armagh, Richmond Park; Sligo v Thomond, Hamilton Park; Sundays Well v Ards, Musgrave Park; Suttonians v Navan RFC, McDowell Memorial Grounds.

Irish Independent

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