Clontarf battle their way to first All-Ireland title
Old Belvedere slip up away to Garryowen on dramatic final day
Clontarf’s players and backroom staff celebrate after they claimed their first Ulster Bank League Division 1A title with a victory over Ballynahinch at Castle Avenue on Saturday. Photograph: Colm O’Neill/Inpho
Ulster Bank League round-up: Clontarf took advantage of Old Belvedere’s defeat to Garryowen in Limerick to win their first All-Ireland League title following with a 27-13 win over Ballynahinch at Castle Avenue on the final day of the season.
Champions in 2011, Old Belvedere were strong favourites to make it two titles in four years against a Garryowen side that were already relegated to Division B. But the three-times All-Ireland champions pulled out a huge performance against their nervy visitors from Dublin as they secured a 23-18 victory.
’Tarf led 13-6 at half-time in their game after Michael McGrath’s first-half try was converted by David Joyce, who also added two penalties.
The home side pulled away in the final quarter with Peter Du Toit going over for two tries to seal Clontarf’s side of the deal.
The game was still going on in Garryowen as Old Belvedere attacked with the final move of the match as they looked for the converted try they required to seal the title. It didn’t come in the end as the move broke down to hand Clontarf their first All-Ireland crown.
Ballynahinch will play off against Buccaneers for a place in Division 1 A, with the midlands club losing their final game 36-29 to Terenure at Lakelands Park as the Dublin side completed an unbeaten season with an 18th victory on their way back to the top flight.
Blackrock College and Dungannon make the drop to Division 2A and they will be replaced by Galwegians and Ballymena.
Limerick sides Old Crescent and Bruff were already relegated from Division 2B and they were joined in the drop by Cork’s Highfield after they lost the relegation/promotion play-off 14-10 at home to Limerick side Thomond.
Nenagh Ormond and Skerries will also play in Division 2A next season, while Suttonians and Instonians drop out of the league.
Wanderers won the qualifier to make their return to Division 2B, with Kanturk beating Instonians 17-13 at Shaw’s Bridge on a memorable afternoon for the Cork club.
Promotion/Relegation play-off: Ballynahinch (Div 1A) v Buccaneers (Div 1 B)
Promoted: Terenure College
Relegated: Blackrock College, Dungannon
Promoted: Galwegians, Ballymena
Relegated: Old Crescent, Bruff, Highfield (lost play-off to Thomond)
Promoted: Nenagh Ormond, Skerries, Thomond (won play-off against Highfield)
Relegated: Suttonians, Instonians (lost play-off to Kanturk)
Promoted to Division 2B from qualifier: Wanderers and Kanturk (beat Instonians in play-off)