AIL round-up: Shannon are relegated after Cork Con defeat
Clontarf thrash Lansdowne while Terenure stay up after victory over Young Munster
Robert Smyth and Jake Swine celebrate Terenure’s win over Young Munster. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho
Shannon were the big casualties on an emotion-filled final day in All-Ireland League Division 1A, suffering relegation with a 34-19 defeat to Cork Constitution. A home semi-final against the same opposition is Clontarf’s reward for a stunning 36-8 win over Lansdowne on the Aviva Stadium’s back pitch.
Having only earned seven points since Christmas, it was always going to be a tall order for Tom Hayes’ Shannon side to survive. Jordan Prenderville’s maul try gave them some early hope, but Cork Con, who had Ireland Under-20 starlet Jonathan Wren at fullback, ran out six tries-to-three winners with winger Barry ‘Tuna’ Galvin scoring a brace on his first league start.
In a shootout for second place, Clontarf turned in their best performance of the season to set up an April 27th rematch with Lansdowne at Castle Avenue. Angus Lloyd celebrated his new Connacht contract by dovetailing brilliantly with David Joyce at half-back, while Mullingar youngster Sean O’Brien scored two of ‘Tarf’s five tries. Lansdowne’s lone effort was Peter Sullivan’s 15th of the campaign.
James Blaney bowed out in memorable fashion after seven years as head coach of Terenure College, who completed their own ‘great escape’ with a sixth win in eight rounds. Promising centre Adam La Grue scored a superb try from his own half as ‘Nure overcame Young Munster 22-15 at Lakelands Park, with the Cookies also staying up.
Conall Doherty’s 80th-minute penalty preserved UCD’s top flight status in a 20-20draw with UCC who finished second-from-bottom and host Malone next week in the promotion/relegation play-offs. Already assured of a historic semi-final trip to Cork Con, Dublin University ended the league phase by beating Garryowen 39-22 with winger Ronan Quinn touching down twice.
Full-back Ross Adair, one of the players of the season in Division 1B, grabbed a brace of tries in Ballynahinch’s 41-15 title-clinching win over St. Mary’s, which ends the three-year absence of an Ulster club from Division 1A. Old Wesley, Naas and Malone advance to the play-offs, with the Cobras’ Peter Osborne picking up 13 points against Buccaneers to finish as the top scorer (169 points) across both divisions.
Elsewhere, in a frantic scramble in Division 2C, an Evan Cusack-inspired Thomond were relegated after 19 years as an AIL club despite winning 26-22 at Seapoint. Other results went against the Soda Cakes, who will be replaced by Round Robin winners Enniscorthy whose historic promotion was confirmed by a 27-0 victory at Connemara where former Clontarf centre Killian Lett scored two tries.