Lansdowne begin All-Ireland League campaign with testing opening match
Last year’s winners are at home to UCD on the back pitch at Lansdowne Road
Lansdowne and Ireland Under-20 coach Mike Ruddock: his side will miss the services of Craig Ronaldson this season. Photograph: Inpho
UCD know Lansdowne have had to patch up a fairly large hole with the loss of Craig Ronaldson to the professional game with Connacht.
UCD come into Division 1A with momentum. They beat Shannon 42-0 in the promotion play-off last season. The sides have met this season and although UCD won both teams were under-strength.
Irish Under-20s coach Mike Ruddock is again in charge of Lansdowne and the memory of being crowned champions last year with two matches to play is in the distant past. Ruddock has lost Tom Sexton to Leinster and it’s unlikely he will see props Martin Moore or Jack O’Connell again. Moore started last night for Leinster while McGrath was on the bench.
Formerly on the Munster roster, Scott Deasy arrives but Lansdowne’s top try scorer Cian Aherne is out as is Foster Horan, while they will be without the Irish Under-20 duo of Tom Daly and Tom Farrell.
Table toppers in Division 1B last season, Ballynahinch, meet Cork Constitution at Ballymacaran Park, while Garryowen face Dolphin in Dooradoyle. Young Munster travel to Templeville Road to play St Mary’s, who have lost captain Darragh Fanning to Leinster. An all Dublin clash takes place at Anglesea Road where Clontarf face Old Belvedere.