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Here's the state of play as reigning champions Cork Con look to extend semi-final run

It is set to be a dramatic day of action in the Energia All-Ireland League.

Image: Ben Brady/INPHO

Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated. 

DIVISION 1A:

As Things Stand -

Division 1A Semi-Finals (April 23): 1st (Clontarf at home) v 4th (Cork Constitution or Dublin University); 2nd (Terenure College or Lansdowne at home) v 3rd (Lansdowne or Terenure College)
Division 1A Final (May 1)

Relegation Play-Off First Leg (April 23): 10th (UCC or Ballynahinch at home) v 9th (Ballynahinch or UCC)

Relegation Play-Off Second Leg (April 30): 9th (Ballynahinch or UCC at home) v 10th (UCC or Ballynahinch)

BALLYNAHINCH (9th) v YOUNG MUNSTER (6th), Ballymacarn Park

Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Ballynahinch: Points: Greg Hutley 75; Tries: Kyle McCall, Greg Hutley 4 each; Young Munster: Points: Evan Cusack 131; Tries: Conor Hayes 9

Having only posted one win in the league this year, back in February, Ballynahinch could do with a timely boost heading into the relegation play-off. That two-legged affair against fellow strugglers UCC will define their season.

Young Munster’s bid to reach the semi-finals fell short with five defeats in the last seven rounds. They can still finish fifth, exactly where they were when Covid-19 struck in 2020 and an improvement of two places from the 2018/19 campaign.

Munsters were 26-24 winners when they last visited Ballymacarn Park two-and-a-quarter years ago. Out-half Evan Cusack, a try scorer that day, is currently joint-top of this season’s scoring charts with 131 points, level with Cork Constitution’s Aidan Moynihan.

CORK CONSTITUTION (4th) v LANSDOWNE (3rd), Temple Hill

Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Cork Constitution: Points: Aidan Moynihan 131; Tries: Greg Higgins 6; Lansdowne: Points: Charlie Tector 77; Tries: Sean Galvin, Peter Sullivan 6 each

This match is undoubtedly drawing the most attention in the top flight, as reigning champions Cork Constitution try to extend their enviable run of semi-final appearances which stretches back to 2016.

Reversing their 16-11 round one defeat to Lansdowne is the goal, with fourth-placed Con currently holding a two-point lead over Dublin University. Lansdowne still have plenty to play for, but Terenure College have their noses in front for second place.

For the trip to Leeside, Clive Ross steps up as Lansdowne’s captain in the absence of Jack O’Sullivan. Ireland Under-20 prop Oisin Michel joins Jamie Kavanagh and Greg McGrath in a new-look front row, with Jack Matthews partnering Charlie Tector at half-back.

GARRYOWEN (7th) v DUBLIN UNIVERSITY (5th), Dooradoyle

Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Garryowen: Points: Tony Butler 87; Tries: Colm Quilligan 7; Dublin University: Points: Mick O’Kennedy 90; Tries: Aran Egan, Mark Nicholson, Alan Francis 5 each

Dublin University’s play-off hopes rest on getting a result here at Garryowen and hoping that Lansdowne can do them a favour in Cork. Trinity make the trip in confident mood after last week’s 34-27 Colours triumph over UCD.

Forwards Mark Nicholson and Alan Francis have moved up as the students’ joint-top try scorers (five each), while Trinity captain Mick O’Kennedy has returned in fine form from the tee, kicking 36 points across the last three rounds.

Garryowen only have pride to play for, but their late win at UCC last week showed their determination to end the season with momentum. Having Munster’s Liam Coombes available again would certainly help, the Skibbereen man having touched down twice against Trinity in October.

TERENURE COLLEGE (2nd) v UCC (10th), Lakelands Park

Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Terenure College: Points: Jake Swaine 74; Tries: Craig Adams 11; UCC: Points: Daniel Squires 32; Tries: Matthew Bowen 6

Terenure College make four changes for their final round clash with UCC, chasing a closing win to seal a home semi-final. Andy Keating and Conall Boomer return up front, the latter deputising at number 8 for Jordan Coghlan.

Caolan Dooley, who had a 20-point cameo off the bench against Lansdowne, and James Thornton are added to the Terenure back-line. Sean Skehan’s men ran out 37-13 bonus point winners when they visited UCC at the start of the season.

UCC, who are gearing up for the relegation play-off, are much-changed, bringing Timothy Duggan and Matthew Bowen back in on the wings. Rory Duggan, Alan McDonald, David O’Halloran and Richard Thompson all come into the tight five.

clontarf-players-celebrate-a-try-late-in-the-game Source: Ben Whitley/INPHO

UCD (8th) v CLONTARF (1st), UCD Bowl

Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – UCD: Points: James Tarrant 81; Tries: David Ryan 9; Clontarf: Points: Dylan Donnellan 75; Tries: Dylan Donnellan 15

With the conclusion of their All-Ireland League season and a Fraser McMullen Cup semi-final also on the agenda, UCD are set for a busy weekend. Among their seven personnel changes are Ireland U-20 prop Jack Boyle who starts at loosehead.

The hard work is already done for Clontarf, with their progression to the semi-finals as table toppers. Ahead of a home date with either Cork Con or Dublin University in two weeks’ time, ‘Tarf boss Andy Wood is likely to rest some players.

Leinster Academy forwards Alex Soroka, Martin Moloney and Brian Deeny have gained valuable game-time during ‘Tarf’s almost unblemished campaign. However, they lost on their last visit to Belfield in February 2020, UCD’s current leading try scorer, David Ryan, crossing the whitewash in a 22-19 home win.

DIVISION 1B:

As Things Stand -

Promotion Play-Off Semi-Finals (April 23): 1st (Old Wesley at home) v 4th (Naas or St. Mary’s College); 2nd (Highfield or Shannon at home) v 3rd (Shannon or Highfield)
Promotion Play-Off Final (April 30): Home advantage to highest-ranked team

Relegation Play-Off First Leg (April 23): 10th (Navan or Banbridge at home) v 9th (Banbridge, Malone or Navan)

Relegation Play-Off Second Leg (April 30): 9th (Banbridge, Malone or Navan at home) v 10th (Navan or Banbridge)

CITY OF ARMAGH (6th) v BANBRIDGE (9th), Palace Grounds

Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – City of Armagh: Points: Kyle Faloon 114; Tries: Matthew Hooks, Kyle Faloon 5 each; Banbridge: Points: Adam Doherty 104; Tries: Conor Field, Andrew Morrison 6 each

This Ulster derby comes at an opportune time for Banbridge as they try to bounce back from a brace of defeats, but avoiding the relegation play-off may prove beyond them. City of Armagh are destined to finish sixth.

Just two Adam Doherty penalties was a poor return for Banbridge at home to Shannon. Their head coach Mark McDowell said: “I know the spirit in the team is good, we’ll go to Armagh and give it a real go. But we know the chances are we’ll be meeting Navan home and away in the play-offs.”

Armagh boss Chris Parker wants another solid display from his squad to close out the campaign, noting: “These two good performances on the road (against Shannon and Old Belvedere) now need to be backed up with a home win to round off the season.”

NAAS (4th) v OLD BELVEDERE (7th), Forenaughts

Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Naas: Points: Peter Osborne 184; Tries: Donal Conroy 9; Old Belvedere: Points: Justin Leonard 122; Tries: Joe Horan 7

Two losses in the last three rounds have seen Naas wobble slightly, but crucially they remain in control of their own destiny. A win by any margin tomorrow would see them through, setting up a semi-final trip to Old Wesley.

Johne Murphy’s squad rotation sees Gary Kavanagh, Tim Murphy, John Sutton, Paddy O’Flaherty and Cillian Dempsey all come in to start for the Cobras. Ryan Casey switches to number 8 with Paulie Tolofua held in reserve.

Old Belvedere can finish no higher than seventh. Stung by last week’s 37-29 home defeat to Armagh, they make four personnel changes, including starts up front for Evan Tyndall, Dean Moore and Jack Breen. Joe Horan, their seven-try forward, reverts to hooker.

NAVAN (10th) v MALONE (8th), Balreask Old

Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Navan: Points: Mark Farrell 47; Tries: Paddy Fox 7; Malone: Points: Rory Campbell 86; Tries: Aaron Sexton 9

After a third defeat on the trot, Navan cannot finish outside of the bottom two and must focus all their efforts on the two-legged relegation play-off. They are set to be at home first, facing either Banbridge or Malone, tomorrow’s visitors.

Malone will likely just need a single point to guarantee their safety, having ended their four-match losing streak with a brilliant 33-16 victory over top four side Naas. Ulster speedster Aaron Sexton ran in his ninth try of the league season.

Clogher Valley youngster Callum Smyton made his mark on his Malone debut, with the dual status back rower scoring the bonus point try. Head coach Wilbur Leacock commented: “A big positive is we are scoring points and we have had a few try bonuses and that gives us confidence.”

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SHANNON (3rd) v OLD WESLEY (1st), Thomond Park back pitch

Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Shannon: Points: Jake Flannery 75; Tries: Killian Dineen 7; Old Wesley: Points: Ian Cassidy 113; Tries: Tommy O’Callaghan 9

Shannon’s strong finish to the regular season has them challenging for a home semi-final. Pat O’Connor’s youngsters are definitely through to the play-offs, it is just a case now of whether they will entertain Highfield or travel to them.

Shannon forwards coach Stephen Keogh commented: “Our last home game, hopefully there’s a massive crowd out. It’s just another game, it’s an opportunity to go out there and play our best, enjoy it and we’ll see what happens from there.”

In-form winger Tommy O’Callaghan’s excellent chip-and-collect effort saw Old Wesley edge out St. Mary’s College to extend their winning run to 11 games. He is now the division’s joint-top try scorer, tied with three other players.

ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (5th) v HIGHFIELD (2nd), Templeville Road

Energia All-Ireland League Top Scorers – St. Mary’s College: Points: Conor Dean 122; Tries: Myles Carey 9; Highfield: Points: James Taylor 63; Tries: Sam Burns 7

How costly will that late defeat at Wesley be for St. Mary’s? Whether they make it through or not, Mary’s are justifiably proud of Steven Hennessy’s young team who have overcome setbacks to improve their league placing from 2019 and 2020.

Hennessy is stepping down at the end of the season, with Leinster and Ireland hooker Sean Cronin taking the reins at Mary’s for 2022/23. Highfield are just a point ahead of Shannon in the race to claim that second home semi-final berth.

The Corkmen made one personnel change, bringing Colin O’Neill in on the right-wing with Paddy O’Toole shifting to outside centre to cover the absence of James Taylor. The latter scored a try and kicked three conversions in Highfield’s 21-17 first round win over Mary’s.

DIVISION 2A:

As Things Stand -

Promotion Play-Off Semi-Finals (April 23): 1st (Queen’s University at home) v 4th (TBC); 2nd (Cashel at home) v 3rd (Buccaneers)
Promotion Play-Off Final (April 30): Home advantage to highest-ranked team

Relegation Play-Off First Leg (April 23): 10th (Rainey Old Boys or Nenagh Ormond at home) v 9th (Nenagh Ormond or Rainey Old Boys)
Relegation Play-Off Second Leg (April 30): 9th (Nenagh Ormond or Rainey Old Boys at home) v 10th (Rainey Old Boys or Nenagh Ormond)

Dolphin v UL Bohemians, Musgrave Park, 1.30pm
Ballymena v Queen’s University, Eaton Park
Cashel v Buccaneers, Spafield
MU Barnhall v Nenagh Ormond, Parsonstown
Old Crescent v Nenagh Ormond, Takumi Park

DIVISION 2B:

As Things Stand -
Promotion Play-Off Semi-Finals (April 23): 1st (Greystones or Blackrock College at home) v 4th (TBC); 2nd (TBC at home) v (3rd (TBC)
Promotion Play-Off Final (April 30): Home advantage to highest-ranked team

Relegation Play-Off First Leg (April 23): 10th (Galwegians at home) v 9th (Ballina)
Relegation Play-Off Second Leg (April 30): 9th (Ballina at home) v 10th (Galwegians)

Ballina v Galwegians, Heffernan Park
Dungannon v Greystones, Stevenson Park
Galway Corinthians v Blackrock College, Corinthian Park
Malahide v Belfast Harlequins, Estuary Road
Wanderers v Sligo, Merrion Road

DIVISION 2C:

As Things Stand -

Promotion Play-Off Semi-Finals (April 23): 1st (Enniscorthy at home) v 4th (Tullamore); 2nd (Skerries or Bangor at home) v (3rd (Skerries or Bangor)
Promotion Play-Off Final (April 30): Home advantage to highest-ranked team

Relegation Play-Off First Leg (April 23): 10th (Clonmel at home) v 9th (City of Derry or Sunday’s Well)
Relegation Play-Off Second Leg (April 30): 9th (City of Derry or Sunday’s Well at home) v 10th (Clonmel)

Bruff v Bangor, Kilballyowen Park
City of Derry v Tullamore, Judge’s Road
Clonmel v Sunday’s Well, Ardgaoithe
Midleton v Enniscorthy, Towns Park
Omagh Academicals v Skerries, Thomas Mellon Playing Fields

ENERGIA ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE ROUND-ROBIN QUALIFYING FINAL:

Bective Rangers v Instonians, Dundalk RFC (winners will play in Division 2C next season)

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