Club scene set for another thrilling season
A new-look Lansdowne kick off their Ulster Bank League Division 1A title defence against the side who almost stunned them in last season's semi-final.
Young Munster took Lansdowne to extra time only to be denied at the death; they will pose a different threat under new coach Tony Mathison.
The Australian played for Super Rugby outfit Queensland Reds for eight years and he will bring something fresh to the Limerick side.
The final will again be held at the Aviva Stadium and if last year is anything to go by, we're in for another treat.
Clontarf will be eager to bounce back from the final defeat but they are likely to be without their influential centre Matt D'Arcy (pictured) for the beginning of the season after he earned himself a short-term contract with Munster.
D'Arcy is the prime example of how a club player can put himself in the shop window and there are plenty who have the potential to do the same this year.
On the back of their promotion, Galwegians give Connacht a strong representation and coach Matt Browne will know that their home form will go a long way towards preserving their top-flight status.
Garryowen are also back in Divison 1A and under the guidance of former Munster centre Conan Doyle, will be hoping to cement their place among the top teams.
Elsewhere, former Ireland prop Marcus Horan takes over at Shannon, while Tony Buckley (Kanturk) and Brett Wilkinson (Buccaneers) are also coaching, which should heighten interest levels.
It's the start of another rollercoaster season and as usual, the exciting talent on show will provide all the spills and thrills of the club scene that remains the bedrock of Irish rugby.
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