THE crunch meeting of fierce local rivals Young Munster and Garryowen in Division 1A tops the bill of fare on an action-packed weekend of All-Ireland League action for Limerick’s eight senior clubs.
Saturday afternoon’s clash of Young Munster and Garryowen at Tom Clifford Park (2.30pm) is hugely significant for both clubs, but for very different reasons.
While Munsters’ will be targetting a derby win in order to keep their outside AIL title hopes alive, visitors Garryowen will be gunning for victory in order to boost their hopes of surviving in the top flight into next season.
Fifth-placed Young Munster trail table toppers Clontarf by 13 points, but the Greendfields side have a game in hand after their scheduled fixture with Dolphin earlier this month was postponed a few short hours from kick-off due to poor weather conditions.
Anything less than a win this weekend for John Staunton’s side would effectively end Munsters’ dreams of claiming a second AIL title this season.
The Clifford Park side are likely to be without the services of their talented hooker Ger Slattery, who looks like being involved with Munster in their RaboDirect PRO12 clash with Zebre at Musgrave Park later on Saturay evening.
Garryowen gave themselves a glimmer of hope of avoiding the drop to Division 1B at the end of the season by beating fellow strugglers Ballynahinch last time out to record their very first win of the campaign.
Bottom-placed Garryowen occupy the automatic relegation berth in 1A, seven points adrift of ‘Hinch.
The ‘light blues’ will realise the need to up their scoring rate as they have averaged just 10 points per game this season.
In contrast, Young Munster have scored an average of 19 points in their 10 outings this season.
Meanwhile, in Division 1B, UL-Bohemian will be looking to bounce back from their disappointing 20-0 away defeat to Belfast Harlequins last time out when they host Malone this Saturday at UL’s 4G rugby pitch on the North Campus at 3pm.
UL-Bohs have dropped from secnd place to fourth place in the tanle in recent weeks.
Colm Tucker’s charges have slipped six points behind second-placed Corinthians who occupy the promotion play-off berth in 1B.
However, with seven rounds of fixtures yet to be played, the Red, Red Robins have time to make up that ground.
Shannon, who had their most recent fixture with Corinthians postponed due to the e poor weather, face a trip to Dungannon.
That postponement against Corinthians came on the back of the abandonment of Shannon’s game with Blackrock College due to an injury to Munster back-row forward Paddy Butler.
Shannon currently lie sixth in the table, but have at least one game in hand on all of the sides above them.
In Division 2A, improving Bruff face a trip to Seapoint, while Old Crescent travel to Cork to take on UCC.
Bottom-placed Bruff lie eight points behind second-from-bottom Old Crescent,
Bruff recorded their first win of the campaign on their most recent outing against Naas.
Third-placed Thomond will look to continue their drive for promotion in 2B when hosting high-flying Nenagh Ormond at Fitzgerald Park in the stand-out tie in the Division.
Thomond sit just one point behind second-placed Greystones.
Meanwhile, 10th-placed Richmond will make the trip to 14th-placed Sligo.
The weekend after next, Saturday, February 22, sees a number of re-fixtures take place - Shannon take on Blackrock, Bruff play Banbridge and Richmond host Tullamore - while there is a full schedule of games for all clubs on the weekend of March 1.