Old Belvedere have edge over Jackman's spirited 'Tarf
Old Belvedere v Clontarf
(Anglesea Road, 2.30, RTE2)
THE bookies have made Old Belvedere red-hot favourites to win this afternoon's Dublin derby, but they know more than most that the gap between the top two divisions is not that big.
Bernard Jackman's 'Tarf come in on the high of winning their division. Clontarf were relegated in Jackman's first season, but they have rebuilt well and have plenty of experience in their side. The acquisition of Cork duo Evan Ryan and Barry O'Mahony have added something extra.
The guile of Danny Riordan has added something to the Belvo back-row. Stewart Maguire and Ben Marshall will lead up front, while Richie Leyden's move to the second-row allows Jonathan Slattery, Jason Risden and New Zealander Leo Auva'a to operate in the back-row. The visitors' ability to stop big ball-carrying 26-year-old Leinster 'A' star Auva'a in his tracks will be key and their No 8 Simon Crawford has a big job on his hands.
Belvo should have enough, but it will be tight.
Verdict: Old Belvedere
OLD BELVEDERE -- D Riordan; E Devitt, J Kennedy, B Woods, D Mongan; Conal Keane, S Keogh; V Soden, D Gilchrist, S Maguire; R Leydon, B Marshall; J Slattery, J Risden, L Auva'a. Reps: K Buckley, B Byrne Diaper, E Jackman, D Moore, A Dunne, Chris Keane, K Miller.
CLONTARF -- D O'Shea; AN Other, K Lett, E Ryan, M Keating; M Dufficy, AN Other; C Kavanagh, A Dundon, N Treston (capt); M Kearney, B Gissing; E Cremin, B O'Mahony, S Crawford.
Cork Con v Young Munster
(Temple Hill, tomorrow, 2.35, RTE2)
THE champions welcome their resurgent old rivals to Cork as they look to back up their fourth first-placed finish in a row with a play-off victory.
However, Mike Prendergast has worked wonders at Tom Clifford Park and having seen off St Mary's to secure their last-four spot, the Cookies are in bonus territory now.
And they are one of the few clubs in the league this season who can draw on the experience of beating the Corkmen following their mid-winter 6-3 victory.
Con's named team is subject to change, depending on who Munster bring to Llanelli, but it's full of big names. Ireland 'A' international Denis Fogarty starts at hooker, and Brian Hayes and Ian Nagle are serious prospects in the second- row. Billy Holland and Frank Cogan will be prominent in the back-row, while Gerry Hurley has impressed with his goal-kicking.
As is traditional, the Cookies' pack have been dominant in most of their clashes and led by captain Ger Slattery, they will hope to get on top up front. And if they do, there is no on better than Alan Kingsley to punish indiscretions.
It may not be enough to stop the champions, but they're sure to go down fighting.
Verdict: Cork Constitution
CORK CONSTITUTION -- S Scanlon; R Lane, C Jouvet, I Dineen, R Clune; S Deasy, G Hurley; D Hurley, D Fogarty, M Gately; B Hayes, I Nagle; B Holland, B Cuttriss, F Cogan (capt).
YOUNG MUNSTER -- I Cross; C O'Hanlon, M Costelloe, R Moloney, A Carroll; W Staunton, A Kingsley; H McGrath, G Slattery (capt), A Cotter; S O'Neill, N Melbourne; L Og Murphy, J O'Neill, S Hassett. Replacements: G Flaherty, D Sheehan, B Guilfoyle, D Bannon, G Jones.