Students bid to bring a halt to Shannon’s charge

SHANNON may have turned the tables with a resounding 55-22 victory over UCD in Limerick last season, but they will be conscious that the students have a habit of reserving their best when playing at home and, indeed, won that encounter two years ago 31-29.

Shannon have also taken note of the well deserved 27-27 draw earned by UCD at Temple Hill last weekend when they became the first team to take a point from Cork Constitution.

But with three games gone in the League, Shannon are very happy with their performances.

Indeed, they head to Dublin for the first of four visits to the capital with the best points differential (plus 60) in the league.

Along with table-toppers Ballymena, they have scored 10 tries. But coach Geoff Moylan is most proud of the defensive record of the side.

It will be a rather awkward situation for Shannon's President Melvin McNamara, as his son Niall will most likely line out in the No 10 Jersey for UCD.

Niall transferred college at the beginning of the season and Shannon will only be too aware of the threat that the talented out half could pose.

Still, Shannon have been boosted by the availability of a number of provincial players. The versatile Frank Roche, who has lined out in all three front row positions with Munster, returns to his club for the first time this season.

James Blaney and Trevor Hogan are also available, while Colm Mc Mahon returns to the squad after playing in Shannon's opening game against Lansdowne.

All that poses a serious selection problem for Moylan, but with his side performing so well it's unlikely that he will alter his line up too radically.

Dolphin face another huge task when they take on champions Ballymena who currently lead the league at Musgrave Park.

There is just one change from the team beaten by last season's runners-up Clontarf at Castle Avenue. Keith Murphy has been named at scrum half in place of Ed Donovan.

Cork Constitution are away to Galwegians and, on the basis of results to date, look bankers to pick up the points.

Con have drafted in former captain Ultan O'Callaghan to the starting side instead of Joey Sheahan and there are a couple of positional switches in the back division.

Jean Vincent Igarza moves from centre to the wing while Cronan Healy is named in the centre.

Con had hoped to have Irish World Cup squad members Anthony Horgan and Frank Sheahan back in action but a block was put on that, apparently, by the Irish Rugby Football Union.

After allowing DLSP claw back an 18-10 deficit and force a draw at Kilternan last weekend, UL Bohs will be anxious to get back on the winning trail when they take on Sunday's Well in Thomond Park.

While they beat the Cork side comprehensively in the Munster League earlier in the season, the AIL is a different proposition and UL Bohs have a number of injury worries, primarily the knee injury suffered by captain Aidan O'Gorman which appears to be more serious than first thought, and he will be out for some time.

It's a big day for division three club Clonakilty who open a 300,000 dressing/meeting room complex at Shannonvale Cross today.

The opening, by Minister for Agriculture Joe Walsh TD, co-incides with a game against Portadown, the first time these two clubs have met in the AIB League.

The club has been assisted with the development by funds from the National Lottery, Cork County Council and local supermarket Super-Valu.

Midleton have lost two away games but picked up bonus points in each one against Young Munster and Terenure. They are well placed in the middle of the table as a result of those extra points and the win on the opening day of the season against Ballynahinch.

On Sunday, at Towns Park, they have an ideal chance to strengthen their position but they face second placed Barnhall and that will surely be a difficult task. The boost comes with the return of club captain Mick Cullinane.

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