All Ireland League season: Crunch semi-final day across all five divisions

Interlopers Terenure ready to roll with Cork Con, Clontarf and Lansdowne all back in the final-four mix

The sun is set to shine on the biggest day of the Energia All-Ireland League season, namely semi-final day across all five divisions. Not since 2016-17 — when Lansdowne, Clontarf and Young Munster finished level on 58 points, with Cork Con just a point behind in fourth — have the top quartet been so tightly bunched.

Seven seasons on, Terenure are the interlopers with Cork Con, Clontarf and Lansdowne all back in the semi-final mix, but with only seven points between first and fourth. Since then, that margin has been 15, 17, 22, 26 and 23.

As both semi-finals will be televised live on Irish Rugby TV, Terenure and Lansdowne kick-off at 4.30pm in Lakelands Park and having won their last dozen matches in a row they will be favourites in front of a huge home crowd.

Luke Clohessy returns as Harrison Brewer reverts to lock, while Lansdowne restore all their main men after underlining their depth in beating Young Munster.


Terenure beat Lansdowne by 20-18 in the semi-finals two seasons ago, and by 24-23 at home in November before completing a double with a 27-20 win on the Aviva back pitch in February. They showed more attacking variety, although Lansdowne have been a potent all-round side this season.

The margins also look wafer thin at Temple Hill for Con’s first home final in five years given they avenged a 30-26 defeat last November in Castle Avenue by beating Clontarf in Temple Hill in January by 27-26.

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Con suffered only one defeat (against Terenure) at Temple Hill this season and have won ten of 11 home semi-finals, actually against Clontarf, albeit in 2009. Clontarf possibly have more experience, and normally they don’t come away from the red zone empty-handed.

Full-back Rob Hedderman, tight-head Luke Masters and openside Ronan O’Sullivan return for Con, while ‘Tarf, although they’ve lost four of their last eight, have been strengthened by the return of Noah Sheridan at fullback, Ben Murphy at 9, lock Josh Murphy and flanker JJ O’Dea.

In the 1A/1B semi-finals, play-off specialists Shannon host Old Belvedere, in bonus point territory. The in-form duo of Old Wesley, who’ve suffered in the play-offs but keep returning, and Garryowen meet in Donnybrook.

In the third tier, the Queen’s-Banbrdige Ulster derby looks like a one-score game, and ditto Cashel-Barnhall and it’s a huge day in Galway, with Corinthians and Galwegians hosting Wanderers and Bruff in the 2A/2B and 2B/2C promotion/relegation play-offs before Connacht are at home to Zebre.

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley is Rugby Correspondent of The Irish Times