Lift-off turns heads to Templeville Road
The All-Ireland League kicks-off tonight in what has been billed as 'Friday Night Lights' when Garryowen and newly arrived Young Munster engage in a good old fashioned dust-up under the floodlights at Dooradoyle.
For the Leinster clubs operating in this relatively exalted company, St Mary's College and Old Belvedere will come face-to-face tomorrow at Templeville Road with Ciaran Potts succeeding Peter Smyth as head coach for the home club.
There is continuity there as former Leinster loose forward Potts assisted Smyth last season and he will have his players primed for the hosting of an Old Belvedere led by clever Kiwi Phil Werahiko.
Blackrock College will have the difficult task of managing the many threats presented by Cork Con. At least they will be at home in Stradbrook, where Andy Wood will start his tenure as head coach.
(2.30, Saturday unless stated)
St Mary's College v Old Belvedere, Templeville Rd
Coach: Ciaran Potts; Captain: Paul Nash.
Ciaran Potts has stepped into Peter Smyth's boots as head coach, welcoming Leinster quality such as Ian McKinley, Ciaran and Rhys Ruddock to the club. Ireland U20 Darren Hudson is going well.
Coach: Phil Werahiko; Captain: Andy Dunne.
New Zealander Greg Walker, Ireland U20 lock Ben
Marshall and former Clontarf wing Peter Woods should add punch to the Belvo attack alongside the influential back row of Jason Risden, Leo Auva'a and Richie Leydon.
Blackrock College v Cork Constitution, Stradbrook
Coach: Andy Wood; Captain: Des Dillon.
New coach Andy Wood will have his work cut out for him having to deal with the loss of Shane Monahan (Connacht), Kyle Tonetti (Sale) and Dave Moore (Harlequins) to professional rugby. Scrum-half Sean Treacy has moved across the river from Clontarf.
Clontarf v Bruff, Castle Avenue
Coach: Bernard Jackman; Captain: Niall Treston.
The double swoop for Dolphin's Ireland club internationals in openside Barry O'Mahony and scrum-half Sam Cronin could prove to be a masterstroke by coach Jackman. Former Cork Con centre Evan Ryan looks another handy acquisition.
Buccaneers v Lansdowne, Dubarry Park
Coach: Willie Clancy; Captain: John Lyne.
Former Leinster out-half Eoghan Hickey and Munster wing Ciaran O'Boyle will give promoted Lansdowne a touch of quality along their three-quarter line.
Terenure College v Bective Rangers, Lakelands Park
Coach: Ian Morgan; Captain: Kevin O'Dwyer.
'Nure will have few over-25 players due to the loss of hooker Brian Blaney, lock Will Collins and hooker Mark Mahony. Enniscorthy's back five utility forward Sean Wall has handled the step up.
Coach: Kevin Lewis; Captain: Alex Kelleher.
Munster boys Conor McNamara and Will Hanley, from Old Crescent, and Shannon's Mike Essex will add steel to Rangers' play before, perhaps, making their way to the Aviva Stadium.
UCD v DLSP, Belfield Bowl
Coach: Bobby Byrne; Captain: Andrew Cummiskey.
This is UCD's centenary year and they will be driven on by the intention of scrum-half Peter du Toit, wing Andy Boyle and hooker David Doyle to make the Ireland U20 Six Nations squad.
Coach: Dave Murphy; Captain: Phil de Barra.
Seasoned AIL players Victor Ball, Andrew Mitchell, David Thompson and Julian Moroney and Kiwi prop Sean Bagshaw will give an amount of experience to a club devoured by injury already.
Dublin University v Queen's University, College Park
Coach: Tony Smeeth; Captain: Scott La Valla.
Natural leader Scott La Valla will play half of the match with Max Waters and Collie McDonnell selected to start in the engine room.
Old Wesley v Malone, Donnybrook
Coach: Eric Miller; Captain: Brian Hastings
Coach Miller will have one of the best midfields in this division in captain Brian Hastings and Brian Doherty, behind a feisty scrum-half in Dave O'Leary. Former Trinity prop Tristan Goodbody will make his debut.
Wanderers v Navan, Merrion Road
Coach: Greg McWilliams; Captain: Michael Kevany.
St Michael's College coach McWilliams has moved into the hot seat and he is fast earning a reputation for exciting, off-the-cuff rugby. Lock Paul Huntly is their main signing.
Coach: Leon Jordaan; Captain: John Duffy.
New Zealanders Martin Coll, a half-back, Tom Boyle, a back five forward, and Australian Adam Gordon, a versatile back, have migrated into the club.
Ards v Naas, Hamilton Park
Coach: Niall Carson; Captain: Andrew Shirley.
Former Clontarf hooker Niall Carson is the new coach. He has signed Kiwi prop Brad Kose and wing Jonny Mullen has been creating a good impression.
NUIM Barnhall v Banbridge, Parsonstown
Coach: Denis Bowes; Captain: Eoin Hogan.
Out-half Eoin Hogan has returned from Monkstown, joining a host of new recruits like New Zealand lock Ross McKean and No8 Brian Hennebry.
Rainey Old Boys v Seapoint, Hatrick Park
Coach: Declan Keegan; Captain: Mark Barrett.
These are exciting times for AIL newcomers Seapoint. Coach Keegan, the father of out-half Brian, is sharing the coaching chores with former Wanderers centre Nigel Osbourne.
Suttonians v Instonians, McDowell Park
Coach: Robert Forbes; Captain: Richard Delaney.
Openside Phily Dwane will make his debut for Suttonians and the starting half-backs Jamie Ward and Darren Wickham are just out of the local St Fintan's High School in Sutton.
Sunday's Well v Greystones, Musgrave Park (Sunday).
Coach: Reggie Corrigan; Captain: Barry Holmes.
Former Ireland loose-head Corrigan is making his way in the coaching game, branching out from specialist scrum doctor to take over at his natural home.