McKeon set to return


Suttonians' final four matches in Division Three are crucial for the survival of the north Dublin club but few games come harder than this weekend's fixture against Ulster's Ballynahinch.

The Dublin side's coach, Mark Benton, is likely to have a full squad available for selection when the team is finally chosen as captain Eamon McKeon comes back into the picture, having been out injured since his team's match against Trinity in early December. His presence is bound to lift the squad against a Ballynahinch side who have no changes and no real injury worries to their squad.

In fact Ballynahinch have played two friendlies in recent weeks against Dundalk and Bangor and won both 19-7 and 65-7 respectively. They are now clearly in top gear but have really only had two competitive All-Ireland League games in January. They crucially lost to UCD but defeated North.

Momentum may be Ballynahinch's main concern on Saturday but they are still sure contenders for promotion and along with UCD, have only dropped two points so far. Portadown, sitting on top of the table, have won all in front of them to date and are clearly the side to beat.

Queens, who are struggling badly this season face North at Ormeau. It has been a bad season for the Belfast students who look like falling out the bottom of the table. Trinity have a week off while UCD have their biggest game to date against Portadown in Dublin. A win for the students at Belfield would certainly help themselves and Ballynahinch and would considerably open up the championship.

UCD have not yet selected as their coach Lee Smith, who works with the International Rugby Board as Director of Development, has been out of the country. The student's only blemish this year has been against Corinthians.

Also of interest this week is Ireland's under-19 game against Italy at Suttonians ground - JJ McDowell Memorial Ground at Station Road in Sutton. As Italy prepare to join the Five Nations competition from next year, the match may well provide an interesting glimpse of what is to come from that country over the next few seasons. The match begins at 12.30 on Saturday.

Division Four have a free weekend but two refixed matches are going ahead. Sligo face Waterpark while Carlow face Ballina in a match which was postponed two weeks ago because of a watterlogged pitch.