Lansdowne and Clontarf claim home playoff advantage
Cork Con will visit headquarters while Young Munster travel to Castle Avenue
Clontarf’s Michael Brown makes a break for the line to score a try against UCD in the Ulster Bank League Division 1A game at Castle Avenue. Photograph: Tom Beary/Inpho
Ulster Bank League Division 1A round-up: Table toppers Lansdowne and defending champions Clontarf will have home advantage in the Division 1A semi-finals after a tumultuous final day in the Ulster Bank League.
Next weekend’s semi-final clashes will pit Lansdowne against Cork Constitution, who will defend their Bateman Cup title at Old Belvedere the following Saturday, and Clontarf will host Young Munster at Castle Avenue.
Lansdowne finished top of the pile on scoring difference following their 40-17 bonus-point dismissal of Garryowen whose top flight survival rests on the upcoming promotion/relegation playoffs.
The headquarters club were winless in the last four rounds but with Scott Deasy back at outhalf, they led from the second minute onwards thanks to flanker Charlie Butterworth’s early try on the Aviva Stadium’s back pitch.
Lansdowne had the bonus point secured by half-time, current Ireland Under-20 hooker Tadgh McElroy touching down as the hosts built a 28-3 lead.
Tries from Ireland Students international Bailey Faloon (43 minutes) and Munster Academy member Steven McMahon (50) lifted the Light Blues’ spirits – their second-from-bottom finish means they will host Old Wesley in next Saturday’s playoffs.
Lansdowne made sure they had the final say with two closing tries from back-three regulars Daniel McEvoy – the division’s top try scorer with 11 touchdowns – and Eamonn Mills.
Former Ireland Under-20 international Conor O’Brien, who recently returned from injury, bagged two tries in Clontarf’s action-packed 37-28 home win over UCD.
Tarf got on top in the third quarter, moving ahead thanks to converted tries from centre O’Brien and outhalf David Joyce, who also kicked 12 points. A deserved try for workhorse flanker Tony Ryan, coupled with a Joyce penalty, make it 27 points without reply, before UCD’s Leinster-capped prop Andrew Porter had a late consolation score.
Dublin University clawed clear of the relegation zone with a stunning last-minute try from Tim Maupin who saw them overcome Terenure College 27-25 at College Park.
The students, who were bidding to stay up at the end of their first season in Division 1A, were turned over in the dying minutes and saw Nure kick clear downfield. However, the Trinity backs had other ideas, countering at pace from their own 22 and putting USA international Maupin into space out wide for the game’s decisive score.
Trinity director of rugby Tony Smeeth, whose young side finished sixth in the table, beamed afterwards: “It was just unbelievable. I can’t describe it really. I didn’t think we were going to win. That was the try of the year that last one. You won’t see many tries better than that in College Park.”
Despite going down to that late try, Terenure also maintained their top flight status by finishing eighth overall – just a point above relegation-threatened Garryowen. Former Leinster winger Sam Coghlan Murray was one of their three try scorers.
Munster centre Dan Goggin touched down twice in Young Munster’s runaway 33-12 bonus point victory at relegated Old Belvedere. The third-placed Cookies were coasting by half-time, armed with a 21-0 buffer. Teenage outhalf Alan Tynan crossed the whitewash in between Goggin’s well-taken brace.
Tynan kicked four conversions to add to a try double from prop Paul Allen in the second half, but their efforts were not enough to snatch home advantage in the playoffs. Belvo bowed out of the top flight with tries from scrumhalf Kyle McCarthy and replacement Eddie Weaver.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE – DIVISIONAL RUNDOWN
Semi-finals (weekend of April 22nd-23rd): Lansdowne (1st) v Cork Constitution (4th), Clontarf (2nd) v Young Munster (3rd)). Division 1A final: Aviva Stadium, Sunday, May 7th.
Relegated: Old Belvedere (automatic).
Division 1A promotion/relegation playoff: Garryowen
Division 1B champions/promoted: Buccaneers
Division 1A promotion/relegation playoff semi-finals: Saturday, April 22nd: Garryowen (9th Div 1A) v Old Wesley (4th Div 1B), Naas (2nd Div 1B) v UL Bohemians (3rd Div 1B); Division 1A promotion/relegation playoff final: Saturday, April 29th
Relegated: Galwegians (automatic)
Division 1B promotion/relegation playoffs: Dolphin
Division 2A champions/promoted: Banbridge
Division 1B promotion/relegation playoff semi-finals: Saturday, April 22nd: Dolphin (9th Div 1B) v Malone (4th Div 2A), Highfield (2nd Div 2A) v Nenagh Ormond (3rd Div 2A); Division 1B promotion/relegation play-off final: Saturday, April 29th.
Relegated: Belfast Harlequins (automatic)
Division 2A promotion/relegation playoffs: Sunday’s Well
Division 2B champions/promoted: Greystones
Division 2A promotion/relegation playoff semi-finals: Saturday, April 22nd: Sunday’s Well (9th Div 2A) v Old Crescent (4th Div 2B), Armagh (2nd Div 2B) v Wanderers (3rd Div 2B); Division 2A promotion/relegation play-off final: Saturday, April 29th.
Relegated: Thomond (automatic).
Division 2B promotion/relegation playoffs: Bective Rangers
Division 2C champions/promoted: Navan
Division 2B promotion/relegation playoff semi-finals: Saturday, April 22nd: Bective Rangers (9th Div 2B) v Tullamore (4th Div 2C), Sligo (2nd Div 2C) v Rainey Old Boys (3rd Div 2C); Division 2B promotion/relegation playoff final: Saturday, April 29
Relegated: Kanturk (automatic)
Division 2C promotion/relegation playoff: Boyne
ALL-IRELAND PROVINCIAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP
Round Robin champions/promoted: Malahide
Division 2C promotion/relegation playoff: Boyne v Round Robin runners-up (Omagh or Clonmel), Saturday, April 29th.