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Weekend Rugby Preview
4 April 2004, 5:19 am
There are crucial games in all three divisions of the AIL as some of the promotion and relegation issues could be decided and also the opening round of the Round Robin series.
There are crucial games in all three divisions of the AIL as some of the promotion and relegation issues could be decided and also the opening round of the Round Robin series between the Provincial Junior League winners starts.

A large crowd is expected at Temple Hill for the meeting of the top two sides in Division One when Cork Constitution take on leaders Shannon. A win for Shannon will see them top the league, while a bonus point will be good enough to guarantee them a home draw in the semi-finals. A defeat for Cork Constitution would mean that they would have to go to Lansdowne in their final game in search of a victory to make sure of a place in the play offs.

These sides met earlier in the season in the final of the Munster Senior League and Shannon were deserving winners that day and they will start as favourites to win this tie, particularly as the home side will be short a few regulars due to injury.

Garryowen are away to Blackrock and could face a difficult afternoon as the Dublin side are still in with a chance of making the play offs.

Dolphin who are free this weekend will be keeping a close eye on the Carlow v Galwegians and St. Mary's v U.C.D. results as these sides try to move out of the relegation zone.

U.L. Bohemian will be expected to keep their promotion hopes alive in the Second Division with a victory over Young Munster at Clifford Park and this would set up a decider against current leaders Old Belvedere at Thomond Park in their final game. The points could be just as crucial to the home side as a defeat could see them become embroiled in the relegation issue depending on results else where.

U.C.C. travel to Limerick to face Thomond and must win to keep alive their outside hopes of making the play offs. Thomond are not an easy side to beat especially on their own patch and the students might see their chances of a top four finish disappear.

The bottom two sides Sunday's Well and Waterpark meet at Musgrave Park, with the home side knowing that anything except a win will see them relegated.

Midleton should mathematically make sure of their safety with a home win over Old Crescent.

With just three games to play in the Third Division Highfield can move another step closer to promotion with a victory at home to City of Derry and Clonakilty should make their trip to Suttonians a winning one.

Bruff begin their third AIL Round Robin campaign with a home tie against Connacht champions Monivea and will want to start with a good result ahead of away trips to Seapoint and Coleraine.

The quarter-finals of the Under Twenty Millennium Cup are all being played this weekend. South West Conference winners U.C.C. should start their campaign with a home win over Cooke at the Mardyke. Bruff play hosts to Blackrock on Sunday and Garryowen travel to Belfield to face U.C.D. Bandon will be hoping that home advantage will give them the edge at home to Cashel in the semi-final of the Munster Junior Plate.

Bruff's second string travel to Musgrave Park on Sunday evening where they will play Cobh Pirates at 5.30 in the final of the Munster Junior Two League. With no Millennium Cup at this level, this is now the premier trophy at this level of rugby.

There are two games in Division Two of the Heineken Munster Junior League. Ennis play Waterford City and Thurles host Kanturk.

Both Skibbereen and Cobh Pirates should book their places in the semi-final of the Cork County Cup with victories over Douglas and Youghal.

Elsewhere the quarter-finals of the Junior Three and Four Cups will be played. At Kilfeacle the home side face Waterpark in the final of the Gleeson Cup and Thurles travel to Youghal in the semi-final of the Casey Cup.

FIXTURES:

SATURDAY 3rd APRIL

AIB League Division 1: Ballymena v Dungannon,Eaton Park,2.30; Blackrock College v Garryowen,Stradbrook,2.30; Buccaneers v Lansdowne,Moher Road,2.30; Clontarf v Belfast Harlequins,Castle Avenue,2.30; Cork Constitution v Shannon,Temple Hill,2.30; Co. Carlow v Galwegians,Oak Park,2.30; St. Mary's College v U.C.D.,Templeville Road,2.30;

Division 2: Ballynahinch v Malone,Ballymacarn Park,2.30; Bective Rangers v D.L.S.P.,Donnybrook,2.30; Midleton v Old Crescent,Towns Park,2.30; Old Belvedere v Barnhall,Anglesea Road,2.30; Sunday's Well v Waterpark,Musgrave Park,2.30; Terenure College v Dublin University,Lakelands,2.30; Thomond v U.C.C.,Fitzgerald Park,2.30; Young Munster v U.L. Bohemian,Clifford Park,2.30;

Division 3: Ards v Portadown,Hamilton Park,2.30; Ballina v Naas,Heffernan Park,2.30; Connemara v Corinthians,Monastery Field,2.30; Greystones v Instonians,Dr. Hickey Park,2.30; Highfield v City of Derry,Woodleigh Park,2.30; Queens University v Old Wesley,Dub Lane,2.30; Skerries v Wanderers,Holmpatrick,2.30; Suttonians v Clonakilty,Station Road,2.30;

AIB Round Robin Series: Bruff v Monivea,Bruff,2.30; Coleraine v Seapoint,Coleraine,2.30;

Under 20 Millennium Cup: Belfast Harlequins v Lansdowne,Deramore Park,2.30; U.C.C. v Cooke,Mardyke,2.30;

Under 20 Cup: Thurles v St. Senan's,Thurles,2.00;

Under 16 Cup: Muskerry v Old Christians,Muskerry,12.00; Skibbereen v Clonakilty,Skibbereen,12.00;

Schools Senior Friendly: Midleton College v North Berwick H.S.,Midleton,11.00;

SUNDAY 4th APRIL

Munster Junior Plate Semi Final: Bandon v Cashel,Bandon,3.00;

Heineken Munster Junior League Division 2: Ennis v Waterford City,Ennis,3.00; Thurles v Kanturk,Thurles,3.30;

Munster Junior Two League Final: Cobh Pirates v Bruff,Musgrave Park,5.30;

Cork County Cup: Mallow v Fermoy,Mallow,3.30; Skibbereen v Douglas,Skibbereen,3.00; Youghal v Cobh Pirates,Youghal,12.00;

Mansergh Cup: Carrick-on-Suir v Dungarvan,Carrick-on-Suir,3.00; Clonmel v Newport,Clonmel,3.00;

Junior Two Plate: Ballincollig v Crosshaven,Ballincollig,3.00;

Junior Three Cup: Castleisland v Old Christians,Castleisland,3.00; Killorglin v Clonakilty,Killorglin,3.00; Muskerry v Bandon,Muskerry,3.00; Shandon v Tralee,Shandon,3.00;

Junior Four Cup: Bandon v Fermoy,Bandon,12.00; Cork Transport v Corca Dhuibhne,Ballincollig,3.00; Midleton v Sunday's Well,Midleton,3.00; Skibbereen v Kanturk,Skibbereen,3.00;

Casey Cup Semi-Final: Youghal v Thurles,Youghal,3.00;

Evans League: Clanwilliam v Clonmel,Tipperary,12.30; Scariff v Nenagh Ormond,Scariff,3.00;

Gleeson Cup Final: Kilfeacle v Waterpark,Kilfeacle,3.00;

Under 20 Millennium Cup: Bruff v Blackrock,Bruff,2.30; U.C.D. v Garryowen,Belfield,2.30;

Under 20 Cup: Old Crescent v Thomond,Rosbrien,3.00;

Junior 2 Friendly: Shannon v Old Crescent,Coonagh,1.30;

IWRFU Division 1 Semi-Finals: Shannon v Galwegians,Coonagh,2.30; U.L. Bohemian v Highfield,Annacotty,1.00;

IWRFU Division 2 Semi-Finals: Clanwilliam v Ashbourne,Clanwilliam Park,2.30; Clonmel v Ballincollig,Clonmel,3.00;

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