A CRUCIAL weekend of Ulster Bank League fixtures kicks off with Friday night’s Division 1B derby clash of Shannon and UL-Bohemian at Thomond Park, 7.30pm.
The full programme of games continue on Saturday, 2.30pm, when third-placed Young Munster host basement side Ballynahinch at Clifford Park in Division 1A, while, also in the top flight, fourth-placed Garryowen travel to Galwegians.
In Division 2A, also on Saturday, struggling Thomond host bottom side Corinthians at Liam Fitzgerald Park in a crucial relegation battle.
Meanwhile, in Division 2C, high flying Old Crescent face a trip to eighth-placed Boyne, while fourth-placed Bruff are on the road to Kanturk.
The Friday Night Lights meeting of Shannon and UL-Bohs is a crunch fixture for the co-tenants at Thomond Park, but most especially for the Annacotty side.
UL-Bohs currently sit in ninth place in the table, 11 points clear of basement side Belfast Harlequins who occupy the automatic relegation spot in the table.
Gearoid Prendergast’s side has won just four of their 13 league games this season and trail Dolphin who lie in a safe eighth place in the table by five points.
Saturday is a crucial day in the battle to secure a play-off place in Division 1A. Young Munster leapfrogged Garryowen into third place in the table with their bonus point victory over Galwegians in their rescheduled fixture on Saturday last.
A home tie against bottom side ‘Hinch provides David Corkery’s side will an ecellent opportunity to extend their winning run. The fact Munsters’ face the top two sides in 1A, Clontarf, away, and UCD, home in their following two outings adds to the importance of Saturday’s fixture.
Fourth-placed Garryowen travel to Crowley Park for a crunch tie with eighth-placed Galwegians. This is a significant tie for the ‘Light Blues’ who hold a two point lead in the table over both Cork Con and Lansdowne. Con also have a game in hand. Garryowen drew with Lansdowne in their last outing at Dooradoyle.
In Division 2A, Thomond will be desperate for victory at home to Corinthians in their crucial relegation tie. Thomond occupy the relegation play-off spot at present, four points ahead of Corinthians.
In Division 2C, leaders Old Crescent will hope to boost their promotion hopes by seeing off Boyne. Crescent enjoy a three point lead over Tullamore. Also in 2C, fourth-placed Bruff travel to Kanturk - the Cork side who are 20 points behind them.