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Munster trio face tough opening week trips to Dublin

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Stephen McMahon in action for the Munster U20s in their loss to Leinster

Stephen McMahon in action for the Munster U20s in their loss to Leinster

©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

Stephen McMahon in action for the Munster U20s in their loss to Leinster

This year's Ulster Bank League was officially launched by the IRFU earlier this week with the Division 1A final to be played at the Aviva Stadium for the very first time.

The top tier club final was last held at the national stadium in 2006 when Shannon defeated current Ulster Bank League Div 1A champions Clontarf.

Lansdowne Road hosted a number of memorable finals between 2003 and 2006 which featured a host of current and past internationals.

A return to IRFU HQ will provide a fitting showcase for the latest crop of talent players plying their trade in the UIster Bank League.

Division 1A kicks off this weekend and all three Munster clubs face difficult away trips tomorrow.

Young Munster travel to current champions Clontarf while Cork Constitution face last season's runners-up Old Belvedere and Dolphin play on the back pitch of the Aviva Stadium against Lansdowne.

The play-offs have been re-introduced to 1A this season with the top four finishers in the league battling it out in two semi-finals.

Division 1B also kicks off this weekend with the pick of the ties taking place in Dooradoyle tonight as Limerick rivals Garryowen and Shannon clash in the curtain raiser. UL Bohemian host Belfast Harlequins at Thomond Park tomorrow.

Ulster Bank League Division 2a and 2b both start next weekend.

The Munster Senior Cup also gets underway with a Leeside derby as UCC entertain Highfield at the Mardyke in the opening round, with the winners at home to Young Munster in the last 16.

Old Crescent are at home to Thomond in the first semi-final of the Limerick Charity Cup. Both had good wins last week and the winners will meet either Shannon or Garryowen in the decider.

In Kerry the McElligott Cup semi-finals are down for decision as Castleisland entertain near neighbours Tralee under lights on Saturday evening. On Sunday, Corca Dhuibhne make the long trip to East Kerry to take on Killarney.

There are two ties down for decision in the Mansergh Cup as Galbally take on Nenagh Ormond at the county Limerick venue on Saturday evening and Clonmel have a home tie with Cashel on Sunday.

In North Munster, the Transfield Cup continues with four games in the second round and in South Munster the Cork County Cup and O'Neill Cup both get underway.

The Dennehy Cup continues with four ties on Sunday and Sunday's Well and Dunmanway open proceedings in the O'Sullivan Cup at Musgrave Park.

Irish Independent