The ‘Beast from the East’ may have moved on with administrators keen to reschedule postponed matches from last weekend. In the Ulster Bank All Ireland League we have 13 matches rearranged for this week with the remaining 12 games being played on the weekends of the 17th and 31st March. Six of the 12 Ulster teams are in action with Ballynahinch and Bangor travelling to Limerick and Malone making the journey to Galway. The one fixture that immediately attracts a lot of interest is the Ulster derby between Banbridge and Ballymena at Rifle Park on Saturday afternoon. Both teams need the points for different reasons with Banbridge looking to maintain their promotion challenge and Ballymena looking to move away from the lower reaches of the table. The clash between Omagh and Sligo is sure to attract another large crowd to the Thomas Mellon Playing Fields with a 12 PM kick off as both teams look to maintain their promotion ambitions. Div 1B leaders Ballynahinch face a difficult assignment in Limerick against a much improved UL Bohemians team with Div 2A leaders Malone having a tricky fixture away to Galwegians who like UL Bohs have put together a decent run in 2018. Bangor like Omagh are hoping to keep themselves in the promotion mix with an away win at leaders Thomond.
In Div 1 of the Kukri Ulster Rugby Championship it remains a two horse race between leaders Instonians and Ballyclare. Three points separate the two teams with Ballyclare having a game in hand. Instonians make the trip to Chambers Park to play a much improved Portadown side who are conscious about picking up any league points to avoid finishing in 9th place. Ballyclare make the short journey to the Tom Simms Memorial Grounds to play County Antrim neighbours Carrickfergus who have ambitions to finish in the top four. Third place CIYMS will be keen to build on their good league form when they play Cooke in a Belfast derby at Shawsbridge. Cooke with a game in hand can still finish in the top four and qualify for the AIL Junior Cup in 2018/19. The bottom half of the table will see a neighbourly derby between Clogher Valley and Enniskillen at the Cran with a 12PM kick off. Again points are crucial for both teams as they look to remain in Div 1. Newly promoted Coleraine have found the going tough this season. Despite having two games in hand they know they have to win their home match with Dromore on Saturday with games coming up away to Enniskillen and Clogher Valley. Fascinating league with so many different contests taking place to see who wins the league, Finishes in the Top Four and Qualified for the AIL Junior Cup not to mention the battle at the bottom end to avoid automatic relegation or the playoffs.
In Div 2 leaders Grosvenor retain their 13 point advantage with five games remaining when they travel to Lisburn this weekend. All the focus on Saturday will be on the meeting of 2nd and 3rd place Randalstown and Ballymoney at Kilraughts Road. Randalstown hold a five point advantage over Ballymoney. A win for Randalstown would make them clear favourites for the play off place with three games remaining. Academy, Larne and Ards have that contest going on to see who will finish in 4th place. For these teams it is all about building momentum for the 2018/19 season.
Academy travel to Limavady with Ards entertaining Larne at Hamilton Park with both games kicking off at 12.30PM. Three points separate UUC and PSNI in 9th and 10th place. Both teams meet at Newforge this week. UUC have two games in hand on the PSNI. Again a lot at stake for both teams this weekend.
In Div 3 Lurgan and Donaghadee are separated by three points with five games remaining. Lurgan make the journey to Civil Service with Donaghadee travelling to Holywood. Both teams have made the semi finals of the Gordon West Cup with ties due to be played on the 24th of March.
The draw was announced for the semi finals of the River Rock Towns Cup this week:
City of Armagh seconds v Ballyclare
Portadown v Carrickfergus.
Ties to be played on the 17th March.
The review is much shorter this week due to the rearranging of fixtures from last week to this weekend. Yes everybody is talking about the Ireland v Scotland match but as you will see for a number of clubs there is no respite from the demands of their season this week.
From what I am being told there will be no changes to the UBL for the season 2018/19. Clubs would have to be told a year ahead for any changes to be made. What will replace the British & Irish Cup could impact on the UBL and the availability of more professional players to play in the All Ireland League. The challenge for the Ulster teams is to make sure we have 2/3 teams in Div 1A and 1B. Can teams like Malone and City of Armagh join Ballynahinch, Banbridge and Ballymena in Section 1.
ULSTER BANK ALL IRELAND LEAGUE
Buccaneers (10) v Clontarf (6) . Played Friday 9.3. 18. KO 8PM
Cork Constitution (3) v Lansdowne (1). Played Sunday 11.3.18. KO 2.30PM
Garryowen (4) v Terenure College (2). Played Sunday 11.3.18.KO 2.30PM
Old Wesley (9) v Old Belvedere (5). Played Wednesday 7.3.18. KO 7.45PM
Banbridge (3) v Ballymena (2). Played Saturday 10.3.18. KO 2.30PM
UL Bohemians (7) v Ballynahinch (1). Played Saturday 10.3.18. KO 2.30PM
Galwegians (7) v Malone (1). Played Saturday 10.3.18. KO 12.30PM
Wanderers (5) v Old Crescent (1). Played Sunday 11.3.18. KO 2.30PM
Bruff (6) v Tullamore (10). Played Saturday 10.3.18. KO 12PM
Malahide (3) v Seapoint (7). Played Wednesday 7.3.18. Kick off 8PM
Midleton (8) v Bective Rangers (9). Played Sunday 11.3.18. KO 2.30PM
Omagh (5) v Sligo (2). Played Saturday 10.3.18. KO 12PM
Thomond (1) v Bangor (4). Played Saturday 10.3.18. KO 12.30PM
The other postponed UBL games from last Saturday have been rearranged:
St Mary’s v UCD. TBC
Dublin University v Young Munster. Played Monday 19.3.18. KO 2.30PM
Dolphin v Shannon. Played Monday 19.3.18. KO 2.30PM
UCC v Naas. Played Saturday 31.3.18. KO 1.30PM
Nenagh Ormond v Galway Corinthians. Played Friday 30.3.18. KO 8PM
Cashel RFC v Queens Uni. Played Saturday 17.3.18. KO 1PM
Highfield v Greystones. Played Friday 30.3.18. KO 6PM
City of Armagh v Blackrock College. Played Saturday 31.3.18. KO 2.30PM
Belfast Harlequins v Skerries. Played Saturday 17.3.18. KO 1PM
City of Derry v Sunday’s Well. Played 31.3.18. KO 1.30PM
Dungannon v Navan RFC. Played Saturday 17.3.18. KO 1PM
MU Barnhall v Rainey OB. Played Saturday 17.3.18.
SONI ULSTER RUGBY PREMIERSHIP DIV 1
Ballynahinch v Ballymena. Postponed
Banbridge v City of Derry. Postponed
Malone v City of Armagh. Postponed
City of Armagh v Banbridge. Played Thursday 15.3.18. KO 7.30PM
SONI ULSTER RUGBY PREMIERSHIP DIV 2
Belfast Harlequins v Bangor. Postponed
Omagh v Queens Uni. Postponed
Rainey OB v Dungannon. Played Thursday 8.3.18. KO 7.45PM
ULSTER RUGBY PREMIERSHIP SECOND XV LEAGUE
Ballymena seconds v Banbridge seconds. KO 2.30PM
City of Armagh seconds v Omagh seconds. KO 12.30PM
Malone seconds v Ballymena seconds. Played Tuesday 13.3.18. KO 7.30PM
KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP DIV 1
Carrickfergus (5) v Ballyclare (2)
Clogher Valley (10) v Enniskillen (8). KO 12PM
Coleraine (9) v Dromore (4)
Cooke (6) v CIYMS (3)
Portadown (7) v Instonians (1)
KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP DIV 2
Ards (6) v Larne (5). KO 12.30PM
Ballymoney (3) v Randalstown (2)
Limavady (7) v Academy (4). KO 12.30PM
Lisburn (8) v Grosvenor (1)
PSNI (10) v UUC (9)
KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP DIV 3
Cavan (7) v Newry (6). KO 12.30PM
Civil Service (11) v Lurgan (1)
Holywood (9) v Donaghadee (2). KO 12PM
Monaghan (3) v BHSFP (8)
Strabane (4) v Donegal Town (12). KO 12.45PM
Virginia (5) v Letterkenny (10)
Updated 16:00 - 7 Mar 2018 by Roger Corbett