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Weekend Rugby Preview
2 February 2004, 3:48 pm
A full round of AIL and Junior League games dominates the weekend's program with the top two clubs in the First Division of the AIL facing trips to last season's finalists in crucial games.
A full round of AIL and Junior League games dominates the weekend's program with the top two clubs in the First Division of the AIL facing trips to last season's finalists in crucial games.

In the Junior League with only three games remaining for the majority of clubs, it could be make or break day.

Leaders Cork Constitution face the long journey to holders Ballymena hoping to preserve their 100% record. Ballymena slipped out of the top four after their defeat by Buccaneers and cannot afford another slip up. Lady luck has been very kind to the Cork side in recent weeks, with injury time winners being a feature of their game. A win here will put them into a strong position for a home semi-final tie.

Likewise Shannon who travel to Clontarf can keep the pressure on the leaders with a victory. Garryowen are away to bottom side Galwegians and a win would move them further away from the danger zone. Dolphin face the students of U.C.D. at Belfield and will at least need to get some thing from this tie as they aim for another season in the top flight.

Second Division leaders UL Bohemian are away to Midleton a side struggling at the foot of the table. The Limerick side have had some hiccups already this season in their quest for a quick return to the top division and will not want to drop any more points. The home side will not make it easy for them and are quite capable of causing a surprise. U.C.C. chasing a top four finish travel to Barnhall and the result of this tie could have a big bearing on where they will finish.

The remaining Munster Clubs occupy the bottom places, but it looks like that Sunday's Well will be relegated, unless they can produce some thing exceptional in their home tie with Ballynahinch. Old Crescent face Young Munster with pride at stake for both clubs. Thomond travel to Dublin to face D.L.S.P. and Waterpark will hope to ease their worries with a home win over Malone.

Clonakilty face promotion chasing Greystones at home and will want to bounce back after their surprising defeat by Connemara two weeks ago with a victory.

In the Heineken Junior League Kilfeacle can open up a gap at the top of the First Division with a win away to St. Senan's. Bruff should keep their challenge going with a home win over Youghal, but bonus points could prove crucial to both sides. St. Mary's will be relegated if they fail to win at home to Bandon and Richmond must beat Old Christians at Rathcooney to try and bridge the nine-point gap with Crosshaven.

The Cork side are away to Clanwilliam and will not find it easy to make sure of their safety in the top flight with a victory. Cobh Pirates should repeat their recent Junior Plate success with a home win over Clonmel.

Cashel having ended Tralee's unbeaten run last week, face the other joint leader's Thurles and will hope to avenge their recent Cup defeat by their near neighbours. Tralee should bounce back to winning ways with a victory at home to Waterford City. Skibbereen can keep their promotion chances alive with a home win against Muskerry.

Douglas will hope to build on last week's success over Ennis with a win away to Castleisland, while Ballincollig look like they will be in the Third Division, if they fail to over come Kanturk at the North Cork venue. Ennis must beat Charleville if they are not to become involved in the relegation battle.

Third Division leader's Abbeyfeale should maintain their lead with a home win over lowly Dungarvan. Mallow cannot afford another slip up after two successive defeats, when they take on Galbally in their final home game. Fermoy can give their promotion hopes a boost with a win away to Carrick-on-Suir, while Newcastle West can continue their late rally with a victory at Killarney.

Bottom side Kilrush will hope for a change of fortune at home to Newport and home advantage should give Dunmanway the edge against Kinsale.

In the Munster Senior League, Garryowen and Cork Constitution should maintain their good runs, with victories over U.L. Bohemian and Sunday's Well respectively.

In the Under Twenty League, the meting of joint leaders Bruff and U.C.C, could decide the outcome of this season's championship. Garryowen should keep up their challenge with a win away to Cork Constitution. U.L. Bohemian would not want to underestimate the challenge of a fast improving Young Munster side and Sunday's Well can keep their Play Off hopes alive with a win away to Corinthians.

The semi-finals of the McInerney Cup are also down for decision. Garryowen are at home to Bruff, with the visitors hoping to add this trophy to their Gleeson League success. Their final opponents are likely to be Old Crescent who travel to Clifford Park to face Young Munster.

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