Elite club rugby games go ahead this weekend despite Level 3 restrictions

Elite club rugby games go ahead this weekend despite Level 3 restrictions

UCC's Louis Bruce skips past Shannon's Jonathan Mayes and Lee Nicholas to scores a try during the Energia Munster Conference clash at The Mardyke. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

PREVIEWING weekend games is a hazardous exercise at the best of times, never mind in the middle of a pandemic.

The country’s move to Level 3 earlier in the week and the GAA’s decision to cancel all club fixtures placed sport under the microscope once again.

The IRFU’s protocols prohibit all games with a number of notable exceptions, including those linked with national competitions.

It means the new energia Community Series, for both men and women, can go ahead as planned tomorrow, provided clubs meet the Covid-19 criteria.

In Munster Conference 1, Cork Constitution, UCC and Highfield are in action while Sunday’s Well and Midleton play in Munster Conference 2.

Con, who won their opening game against Old Crescent by 54-19, are at home again against Cashel after their fixture against Garryowen in Limerick last weekend was cancelled.

It was one of a number of games which fell by the wayside because of Covid-19 with competition rules awarding two points to each club.

Cashel, who have former Con player, Darragh Lyons, as player-coach, are in joint second-place in the table with the Temple Hill club.

The Co Tipperary side defeated Shannon in their opening game before Covid-19 halted their planned tie with Highfield last weekend.

Con ran in eight tries against Crescent with captain Niall Kenneally and flanker Ross O’Neill claiming two apiece and out-half Aidan Moynihan converting seven.

The Cork side are giving youth a fling with newcomers John Forde, Luke Masters and Eoin Quilter among the recruits.

UCC are also at home for the second successive week and they’ll be full of confidence after their nine-try 61-17 trouncing of Shannon at the Mardyke last week.

It was the students’ first win of the season, having lost to Highfield, Con and Young Munsters in three separate competitions.

Brendan McSorley crossed for a couple of tries and there was one apiece for Rob Hedderman, Cian Bohane, Richard Thompson, Louis Bruce, Ryan Murphy, Killian Coghlan and James Taylor, who kicked six conversions. Cian Whooley added two more.

Shannon are fielding well below full-strength due to injuries and are struggling as a result though Highfield will take nothing for granted in their meeting.

The Cork club drew their opening game at home to Garryowen 22-22, producing a stirring second-half rally to share the points with Paul Stack finishing off a memorable move for a try-of-the-month contender.

Last season, in All-Ireland League division 1B, home form stood up with Highfield winning at Woodleigh Park and Shannon taking the spoils at Coonagh.

It’s new coach Conor Quaid’s first game in charge against Limerick opponents in Limerick, where Shannon are sure to offer a strong challenge despite their difficulties.

The big game in the conference is the Limerick derby between leaders Young Munster and Garryowen at Clifford Park.

Munsters collected maximum points against College and Crescent and are three clear of Con and Cashel.

Garryowen could be a bit rusty having not played last weekend, but there’s nothing like the sight of Young Munster jersey to stir the blood and vice-versa, too.

In Conference 2, Sunday’s Well, who sat out last weekend because of the odd number of teams in the group, entertain Clonmel, 17-15 winners over Bruff.

The Well have played only once, a 32-14 loss away to Bruff and the Cork side face a Tipperary out-fit, which lost its county derby with leaders Nenagh Ormond by 31-8 on the opening weekend.

Midleton felt the full force of Nenagh’s power last weekend, having lost to Dolphin in their opener and head to Bruff bidding to collect their first points in the group.

Such is the precarious state we find ourselves in that not all games are guaranteed to take place.

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