There is little getting away from the fact that Merrion are going to be tough to beat in 2017. Their squad is settled, with much the same as last…

Many of our league reviews so far have predicted that teams will finish in approximately the same order as they finished last year. Teams that were relegated from above should stay too strong, those that are promoted from below will find it too tough. But Division 9 looks as if it could be a bit different. And so at the risk of looking stupid come September, our Division 9 preview has some slightly left field predictions.

Division 13 will throw up an intriguing possibility for at least three of the seven teams competing this season. All seven have had tough times over the last few seasons. Some are on the way back up, some are still on the way down. But most are capable of pulling off a few surprise victories, and for the three teams that fill the medal positions, they will at least know that the rot of recent years has been reversed.

Even in the period that this article covers, there have been several periods when the competitions that the University have played in have changed. Until 2004, Dublin University were playing six games a season in the old Lewis Traub competition, allowing them to qualify these rankings. From the 2005 season, the clubs were split into groups of three or four, reducing the umber of games Trinity played each year, and meaning they no longer qualified for our rankings from the start of the 2006 season.

By mid-June, Cork County 1 were in spot of bother after losing to Dublin University, Leinster and Malahide in their first four matches. There was only one way they could win the league after that start, and that was by winning their remaining nine matches - a task that was achieved in an amazing late season run.

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