FORMER MUNSTER HOOKER Denis Fogarty will be part of the Agen squad that faces La Rochelle for a place in the Top 14 this coming Sunday, the 25th of May.
The Ireland ‘A’ international played the closing 11 minutes of yesterday’s 25-17 semi-final win over Narbonne, helping to ensure that Agen have a chance to bounce straight back into the French top flight following relegation last season.
Fogarty joined the southwestern club last summer from fellow Pro D2 side Aurillac, where his superb 2012/13 campaign saw him named in the league’s Team of the Season.
The former Rockwell College man has started nine times for Agen in the current campaign, appearing off the bench on 14 other occasions as he has battled with Moroccan international Jalil Narjissi [the team's captain] for a first-team spot.
La Rochelle overcame the challenge of Pau – where Munster backs coach Simon Mannix takes over next season -in the other Pro D2 semi-final on Sunday. Agen finished level on points with La Rochelle in the regular season table, meaning the clash at Bordeaux’s Stade Jacques Chaban-Delmas should be closely-fought.
Fogarty’s involvement means Irish support will be with eight-time French champions Agen.
Meanwhile, Irishmen Jerry Sexton and Rory Kavanagh‘s Auch secured a national espoirs [France's U23 championships] title yesterday.
A 24-11 victory over Colomiers in the Poule Trois final saw the Gers-based club wrap up an excellent season at espoirs level, with outside back Kavanagh and lock Sexton playing important roles throughout the campaign.
With Auch’s senior team having been relegated from the Pro D2, it remains to be seen if the promising pair will remain at the club next season.
In England, Niall Morris played 80 minutes on the right wing as Leicester were beaten 21-20 by Northampton in a high-quality Premiership semi-final.
The 25-year-old Irishman will hope to be named in the Emerging Ireland squad in the coming week, having suffered the disappointment of missing out on a spot in the final after Tom Wood’s late winning try for the Saints.
In the other semi-final, Conor O’Shea‘s Harlequins were beaten 31-17 by Mark McCall‘s Saracens on Friday. Former Leinster lock Eoin Sheriff played the last 12 minutes of the encounter off the bench for the victors, continuing his strong end-of-season form.
Meanwhile, Sean Scanlon, Charlie Mulchrone and Michael Keating were part of the Rotherham Titans side that lost 22-11 to Bristol in the second leg of their Championship semi-final.
That result saw the Titans beaten 39-25 on aggregate, with Keating’s first half try proving mere consolation for the play-off defeat against favourites Bristol. Irish-qualified centre Jack Tovey played the entire game for the winning side.
In the other semi-final, Peter Browne‘s London Welsh ensured progress into the promotion final with a 29-20 success over Leeds, which meant a 60-58 aggregate score over two thrilling legs.
The 26-year-old former Harlequins and Newcastle lock/flanker qualifies for Ireland through his parents, and will be playing Premiership rugby next season if London Welsh can upset the odds in the final at Bristol’s Memorial Stadium.
Dolphin RFC clubman John Quill, a former Ireland Schools international and now capped by the US, was a replacement in London Welsh’s win yesterday.