With seven teams battling for supremacy after four games in Division 1A, this evening’s derby match-ups carry even greater significance.
Cork Constitution’s battle with Dolphin at Temple Hill, for instance, could decide who hangs on to local bragging rights for a while, each of the clubs having notched up a win in local and provincial club cup tournaments earlier this season.
There is a significant respect between the two, however, with Constitution skipper Gerry Hurley and Dolphin coach Steve Ford playing down their respective prospects.
Having already experienced the battlefield, Hurley recognises that nothing will come easy from their south city rivals.
He said: “It was difficult to judge from the last couple of games; there were different circumstances in each of them. This is a new ball game completely.”
There was no argument on that score from Dolphin coach Ford, who is on the cusp of leading the club to better things.
The Welshman is under no illusions that patience has to be a continuing factor in the development of a young but talented squad.
“Things are going well for us now, but we have to look at Con, at the fact that they have won games in the last few minutes of the last few games; they’re a hugely competitive team and this is a local derby,” he said.
“We just have to continue growing, and I’ve said to the boys that we’re not any different as a team but just getting better as we have been in terms of consistency, that’s the way we want to go forward.
“Last week we managed to wrap up the bonus point, which we haven’t done for a while, but this is going to be a different kettle of fish and it is different to any of the games we have played this year.”
Meanwhile, Garryowen skipper David Sherry has dismissed any suggestion that Shannon will give his side an easy four points at Dooradoyle tonight.
He said: “We know they have had a bad start to the season but things could change quickly for them, they have enough good players to make a difference.
“We were in a similar situation to them a couple of years ago and once you get into a rut, it is difficult.
“However, one good result from a derby is what you need to get out of it and we’re fully focused on this game, how we need to be, how difficult they will be against Garryowen. Form can often go out the window in those situations.”
Tonight’s Ulster Bank League (all 7.30pm)
Division IA: Clontarf v Lansdowne, Castle Avenue; Cork Constitution v Dolphin, Temple Hill; Garryowen v Shannon, Dooradoyle; St Mary’s College v Old Belvedere, Templeville Road; UL Bohemian v Young Munster, Annacotty.
Division 1B: Ballynahinch v Dungannon, Ballymacarn Park; Belfast Harlequins v Ballymena, Deramore Park; Buccaneers v Bruff, Dubarry Park; UCD v Blackrock, Belfield.
Division 2A: Galwegians v Corinthians, Crowley Park.