Thursday 22 February 2018

'Tarf aim to exact revenge for last year's final defeat to Cork Con

Johnny Holland has joined Cork Con’s coaching team ahead of their Ulster Bank League title defence. Photo: Sportsfile
Johnny Holland has joined Cork Con’s coaching team ahead of their Ulster Bank League title defence. Photo: Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

The All-Ireland League is back with a bang this afternoon as defending champions Cork Con get their title defence under- way at home to Clontarf in what will be a repeat of last season's pulsating final.

It has been a busy off-season in the AIL with a host of former pros linking up with clubs which should boost the profile of the domestic game.

In Temple Hill, Johnny Holland begins his coaching career with Con, while former Ireland centre James Downey does the same with 'Tarf.

Con have kept hold of the bulk of their squad that was so successful last season but their captain Niall Kenneally has warned that every other team, including today's opponents, will be gunning to knock his side off their perch.


"If you don't concentrate on the Saturday every time in this league you get beaten," the former Munster centre said.

"There is no gap between top and bottom, everyone beats everyone. You see that with the fixtures, you couldn't bet on this league because it is so unpredictable."

Buccaneers, with Mike McCarthy as part of their backroom staff, begin life in the top flight with a tough home assignment against Mike Ruddock's Lansdowne.

The Athlone outfit relied heavily on the try-scoring exploits of Jordan Conroy last season but given that he was included in the Ireland sevens squad earlier this week, he is unlikely to feature as regularly as Buccs would like.

Trinity started well last year and even though they were unable to maintain their good form throughout, a sixth-place finish was very respectable. The students welcome Terenure to College Park for the first Dublin derby of the new season.

Elsewhere, UCD's trip to Limerick to take on a Young Munster side with their sights firmly set on the main prize, should be one of the games of the day. Conan Doyle's Garryowen will be desperate to improve on last season's disappointment as they take on St Mary's.

Ulster Bank League fixtures

(2.30 unless stated)

Division 1A: Buccaneers v Lansdowne, Dubarry Park, Cork Con v Clontarf, Temple Hill, Dublin University v Terenure College, College Park, St Mary's College v Garryowen, Templeville Road, Young Munster v UCD, Tom Clifford Park.

Division 1B: Dolphin v Naas, Irish Independent Park, Old Belvedere v Ballynahinch, Anglesea Road, Old Wesley v Ballymena, Donnybrook, UCC v Shannon, Mardyke, UL Bohs v Banbridge, UL 4G pitch.

Irish Independent

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