30th March 2023 By Leonard Allen
This weekend the second last series of games in the Men’s All Ireland League are down for decision and the the Women’s All Ireland Cup series also continues.
Midleton who are seventh and bottom side Sunday’s Well get the show on the road with their basement clash at Musgrave Park on Friday evening in Division 2C. Midleton are one point clear of the drop zone, following their 27-17 away defeat by Omagh Academicals at the County Tyrone venue.
Sunday’s Well’s chances of avoiding the drop were dealt a major setback as they were narrowly defeated 35-33 by a last minute conversion by Ballina at the North Mayo venue, but they claimed two bonus points, as they scored four tries. Midleton won the corresponding fixture 33-7 at the Towns Park in October.
The game of the day in Division 1A on Saturday is the meeting of third-placed Cork Constitution and Terenure College, who are second at Temple Hill. Both sides have secured semi-final spots following victories over Shannon and Garryowen last time out.
Terenure College ran out 47-12 winners when these sides met at Lakelands Park.
Relegated Garryowen welcome neighbours Young Munster to Dooradoyle in a Limerick derby. Young Munster, who are fourth need just two points to assure themselves of a semi-final spot, following last week’s 23-17 home win over UCD. Young Munster ran out 26-23 winners when these sides met at Tom Clifford Park, resulting in a losing bonus point for Garryowen.
Ninth-placed Shannon, who are four points adrift of UCD, welcome fifth-placed Ballynahinch to Thomond Park. Both sides go into the tie on the back of defeats on the road by Cork Constitution and Clontarf respectively. Ballynahinch ran out 41-8 winners in October’s corresponding fixture in County Down.
In Division 1B, fourth-placed Highfield entertain Naas, who are seventh, at Woodleigh Park. Highfield, who boosted their aspirations of a top-four finish following last week’s 27-7 maximum point win over Buccaneers in Athlone, will be looking to make the most of home advantage count, if they are to record another bonus point win and keep their chances of a top-four finish intact. Highfield recorded a narrow 24-22 win when these sides met in County Kildare.
UCC who are hovering above the relegation zone, four points clear of Banbridge, face a tough assignment as they travel to the Palace Grounds to take on leaders City of Armagh. The Ulster side were defeated 13-6 by Old Wesley at Energia Park, while the Leeside Students lost 40-32 by St Mary’ College but claimed a bonus point as they scored four tries. UCC recorded a narrow 15-14 win when these sides met at the Mardyke, resulting in a losing bonus point for City of Armagh.
Nenagh Ormond, who are third in Division 2A, travel to County Kildare to take on fourth-placed MU Barnhall. Nenagh Ormond ran out 21-17 away winners over Cashel in a Premier County derby last time out, while MU Barnhall were defeated 57-10 by new leaders Queen’s University in Belfast. Nenagh Ormond recorded a narrow 25-22 victory when these sides met in North Tipperary, resulting in a losing bonus point for the County Kildare side.
Old Crescent face a tricky task as they travel to Belfast to take on new leaders Queen’s University. The Limerick side are seven points clear of the drop zone, but were defeated 38-24 by Blackrock College at Takumi Pak last time out. The Belfast Students recorded a 57-10 bonus point victory over MU Barnhall last time out and they also won October’s corresponding fixture, 36-24 in Limerick.
Bottom side Dolphin travel to the Capital to take on second-placed Blackrock College at Stradbrook. Blackrock College ran out 38-24 maximum-point away winners over Old Crescent last time out, while Dolphin were defeated 46-24 by Navan at Musgrave Park, but claimed a bonus point as they scored four tries. Dolphin recorded their first win of the campaign 35-8, where they claimed all points on offer, when these sides met at Musgrave Park.
UL Bohemian will be looking to bounce back from their narrow, 25-22 defeat by Ballymena in County Antrim as they lock horns with Cashel at the UL Arena. Cashel, who are without a win since their narrow 19-17 victory over Old Crescent at Takumi Park in January, are now seven points adrift of a top four finish. UL Bohemian are second from bottom, seven points behind Old Crescent. Cashel ran out 32-9 home winners in October’s corresponding fixture.
In Division 2C, fourth-placed Clonmel will be looking to keep their aspirations of a top-four finish alive as they welcome Omagh Academicals, who are second from bottom to South Tipperary. Clonmel remain fourth following their 38-22 defeat by Tullamore in Mullingar, while the County Tyrone side ran out 25-17 home winners over Midleton. Omagh Academicals recorded a 24-13 home win in October’s corresponding fixture.
Fifth-placed Bruff will have their work cut out as they entertain third-placed Tullamore as they look to maintain their outside chances of a top-four finish. Bruff were defeated 30-17 away by Skerries, while Tullamore defeated Clonmel 38-22. Tullamore ran out 50-26 when these sides met at the County Offaly venue.
The game of the day in the All Ireland Women’s series is the meeting of leaders Railway Union and second-placed UL Bohemian at Willow Lodge. Railway Union go into the tie on the back of a comprehensive 67-7 away win over Ballincollig, while UL Bohemian ran out 24-7 home winners over Wicklow.
Ballincollig travel to the Capital, to take on Old Belvedere at Ollie Campbell Park. Ballincollig go into the tie on the back of a heavy 67-7 home defeat by Railway Union, while Old Belvedere ran out 22-5 away winners over Suttonians in a Dublin derby.
The Round Robin Series semi-finals and the Women’s All Ireland Junior Cup series are the highlights of the weekend’s Junior programme. Locally, there are four games in Section A of the Munster Junior League, with a bearing on relegation issues as well as the Munster Junior League Play-offs and the Munster Junior Clubs’ Challenge Shield decider.
In the Round Robin series, Munster champions Richmond go head to head with Connacht champions Creggs from East Galway at Coolmine near Blanchardstown. The winners will meet Bective Rangers or All Ireland Junior Cup winners Clogher Valley.
In the semi-finals of the Women’s All Ireland Junior Cup, Skibbereen travel to the Faithful County to take on Tullamore. The winners will meet Enniskillen or MU Barnhall in the decider.
In Section A of the Munster Junior League, Clanwilliam lock horns with Thurles in a Premier County derby in Tipperary Town. While Clanwilliam have secured their place in the top flight for next season, this is a game from which Thurles need maximum points if they are to be assured of their top flight status.
Skibbereen welcome Waterpark to the Carbery Showgrounds. The West Cork side will be looking to make the most of home advantage count if they are to record a maximum point win and secure Division 1 rugby next season. The Suirsiders also need a result if they are to remain in the top flight.
Clonakilty go head to head with Abbeyfeale with nothing much to play for as Abbeyfeale, who propped up the table for most of the season, have been relegated. Clonakilty have secured their top flight status.
St Mary’s welcome Newcastle West to Grove Island. While a win would secure second place for the West Limerick side ahead of Bandon, nothing more than a maximum point win will do if St Mary’s are to have any chance of remaining in the top flight next season.
Galbally-Mitchelstown and Dungarvan go head to head in the Munster Junior Club’s Challenge Shield decider at the Showgrounds in Fermoy. Galbally-Mitchelstown won the Section B title of the Munster Junior League, while Dungarvan were relegated to Division 3. This will be an opportunity for the West Waterford side to finish a disappointing season with silverware, while Galbally-Mitchelstown will be looking to collect their second trophy to add to the Section B title of the Junior League.
In the Munster Junior League Play-offs, Kanturk and Kinsale go head to head at the Duhallow venue and the winners will be playing in Division 1 next season.
Charleville and Youghal lock horns at Smith’s Road and the winners will meet Galbally-Mitchelstown in the other decider.