Clontarf snatch the All-Ireland League title on a dramatic final day
Victory over Ballynahinch proves enough as Old Belvedere crash to defeat against already-relegated Garryowen
They will now go into a promotion/relegation match against the second placed team in Division 1B Buccaneers.
What, one wonders, would Garryowen give to be in that situation?
To beat Old Belvedere was an outstanding achievement, particularly as they were down to 13 players with two men in the sin-bin at one stage in the final quarter.
They scored two tries through wing Mark McNulty and flanker Anthony Kavanagh while out-half Andrew O’Byrne landed two conversions, two penalties and a drop goal.
Old Belvedere, who badly missed their injured skipper Danny Riordan, replied with tries from flanker Kieran O’Gorman and wing Philip O’Dwyer with Josh Glynn kicking a conversion and two penalties.
Unfortunately, Garryowen left themselves with far too much to do in the league after a disastrous opening half to the season.
The arrival of Eddie O’Sullivan in an advisory role brought about a distinct improvement but it has come too late to avoid relegation. O’Sullivan described Saturday’s victory as “bitter sweet”, as did coach Tom Tierney.
Tierney now plans to move to another position while former Irish coach O’Sullivan is uncertain at this stage what his commitments are for next season.
UCD finished third in the Division 1A table following a 45-24 home victory over Young Munster. They scored six tries with two of them coming from Jamie Glynn.
Last year’s champions Lansdowne are fourth, trailing UCD on points difference. Their final game saw them pip Dolphin 18-16 at Musgrave Park with Scott Deasy landing six penalties.
However, the good news for Dolphin is that they have stayed ahead of Ballynahinch and will remain in the top flight. Elsewhere, Cork Constitution and St Mary’s College shared eight tries in an entertaining 30-30 draw at Temple Hill.
Pride of place in Division IB goes to champions Terenure College for their remarkable achievement in winning all of their 18 games. They had to come from behind to win the last of them 36-29 against second placed Buccaneers at Lakelands Park.
The other main story in Division 1B was the confirmation that Blackrock College have been relegated alongside Dungannon. This, despite Blackrock recording a useful 28-26 bonus point away success over UL Bohemians.
The problem for them was that Malone also won, hammering Corinthians 52-18 at Gibson Park.
In the remaining games, Dublin University beat Shannon 19-17 and Belfast Harlequins trounced bottom outfit Dungannon 47-19 at Deramore Park. Thomond and Kenturk both won promotion/relegation play-offs. Thomond will figure in Division 2A next season after defeating Highfield 14-10 while Kenturk got the better of Instonians 17-13 to secure a position in Division 2B next season.