Friday 20 April 2018

Club scene: The All-Ireland League uncovered

Game of the weekend
St Mary's v Lansdowne, (Templeville Road, 7.30)

LANSDOWNE won't be getting carried away by being top of the table following just two games, but after winning both of their matches so far, Mike Ruddock (right) will want to keep his side's good start to the season going tonight.

The break for British and Irish Cup action came at the wrong time for his side, who go to the home of the champions after a couple of weeks' inactivity.

Having scored six tries in a 48-7 hammering of struggling Shannon two weeks ago, they will expect a step-up in class this weekend.

Mary's struggled past UL Bohemian in an opening-day win and followed that with a narrow defeat to Young Munster in Limerick. They are still adjusting to life under Hugh Hogan, who himself is getting used to coaching after captaining the Templeogue club to the title last year.

They should have little trouble in getting up for this Dublin derby under lights and, having lost this fixture early in last year's campaign, are fully aware of the threat Ruddock's men possess.

The former Wales Grand Slam-winning coach has plenty of weapons available to him behind the scrum, with Craig Ronaldson running the show from No 10 and the prolific back three of Matt Healy, Cian Aherne and Ross McCarron causing plenty of problems for opposition defences.

Mary's will look to dominate the exchanges up front with their formidable pack, but they will need more from their outside backs if they are to come out on top.

Verdict: Away win

Coach's corner

Emmet Farrell (Lansdowne)

The former Leinster out-half combines his day job as Leinster's performance analyst with coaching Lansdowne's backs.

He was in charge of a potent Blackrock backline a number of seasons ago which included the likes of Kyle Tonetti, Niall Morris, Shane Monahan and Fionn Carr, who all went on to play professionally.

The crop he is currently in charge of are similarly dangerous, with fly-half Ronaldson having attracted interest from Bath after his exploits last year. Healy is a try-machine, while McCarron brings considerable experience from his time as an up-and-coming Leinster full-back who turned his back on the full-time game.

Farrell is a rising star in the Irish coaching ranks and, along with Ruddock, his impact on Lansdowne's form will be worth watching this season.

Con Jazz it Up

Cork Constitution will be hoping the Jazz Festival can lift their spirits after a mixed start to the season. The club are putting on a number of events to attract punters to their new facilities at Temple Hill for their mouth-watering clash with Young Munster tomorrow.

Outright betting

St Mary's 13/5, Cork Constitution 10/3, Clontarf 7/2, Young Munster 11/2, Lansdowne, UL Bohemian 8/1, Garryowen 10/1, Dolphin 33/1, Old Belvedere 50/1, Shannon 80/1

Ulster Bank League Fixtures

Tonight

Division 1A: St Mary's v Lansdowne, Templeville Road, 7.30, *LIVE on www.irishrugby.ie

Division 2A: Bective Rangers v DLSP, Donnybrook, 7.30.

Division 2B: Navan v Boyne, Belreask, 8.0.

Tomorrow (2.30 unless stated)

Division 1A: Clontarf v UL Bohemian, Castle Avenue; Cork Constitution v Young Munster, Temple Hill; Garryowen v Old Belvedere, Dooradoyle; Shannon v Dolphin, Coonagh.

Division 1B: Belfast Harlequins v Blackrock, Deramore Park; Buccaneers v Dungannon, Dubarry Park, 7. 0; DUFC v Ballymena, College Park; Malone v Bruff, Gibson Park; UCD v Ballynahinch, Belfield.

Division 2A: Banbridge v Highfield, Rifle Park; City of Derry v Old Wesley, Judges Road; Corinthians v Cashel, Corinthian Park; Greystones v Galwegians, Dr Hickey Park; Midleton v Seapoint, Towns Park; Old Crescent v UCC, Rosbrien; Terenure College v QUB, Lakelands.

Division 2B: Connemara v Nenagh Ormond, Monastery Field; Instonians v Thomond, Shaws Bridge; NUIM Barnhall v Ards, Parsonstown; Skerries v Naas, Holmpatrick; Sligo v City of Armagh, Sligo; Sunday's Well v Rainey Old Boys, Musgrave Park; Suttonians v Clonakilty, Station Road.

The number

17 Dave Kilcoyne was named in the Ireland squad on Wednesday, marking a rapid rise for the young prop. The 23-year-old (left) featured in 17 out of 18 of UL Bohemian's AIL games last season.

Irish Independent

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