AIL Roundup: Division 1A Week 1

Well, the opening weekend of fixtures certainly didn’t disappoint. Champions Clontarf got their reign off to a winning start, Shannon’s return to the top flight didn’t go as they would have liked and party- poopers Ballynahinch spoiled Lansdowne 150th year celebrations with a shock 34-31 victory on the Aviva back pitch. This and so much more happened on the opening weekend…

Shannon 3-39 Terenure College, Saturday October 1st, Thomand Park, 2:30pm

It was always going to be a case of sink or swim for Shannon when they welcomed Terenure to Thomand Park on Saturday. Their delight to be back in the top division was met with the harsh reality of the current gulf in levels between them and last year’s runners up.

Sean Skeehan’s side scored 6 tries on their way to a commanding opening day victory, signalling their intent for the season ahead, with their sights definitely on going one step further and claiming that famous 1A crown.

Nure arguably plays the most exciting brand of rugby. Their backline more often than not firing on full cylinders. Colm de Buitléar, Craig Adams and Matthew Bowen all getting their names on the scoresheet.

The D6 club will be a force to be reckoned with this season. For Shannon it’s still very early days, their focus turns to a hopefully improved performance next week.

UCD Rugby 19-24 Clontarf, Saturday October 1st, UCD Bowl, 2:30pm

Clontarf hooker Dylan Donnellan scored a brace of tries to help his team edge a tight 24-19 victory despite UCD’s valiant efforts.

It was a back-and-forth opening half which saw the sides trade two tries each. Mark Fleming and Sean O’Brien touching down for the hosts and Donnellan, last season’s top try scorer with nineteen tries, picked up from where he left off. Ivan Soroka scoring the second. Two successful Conor Kelly conversions gave the visitors a 2-point cushion at the interval.

In the second half, Tarf captain, Matt D’Arcy burst into life, making a great break before assisting his centre partner Michael Courtney for a well taken try. Donnellan pounced on a loose Sheehan lineout throw, barging over for another try. This ultimately secured the victory.

There was plenty for the students to be happy about with their performance. They threw the kitchen sink at their opponents in the last quarter. The highlight coming when Leinster Academy player Chris Cosgrave followed up his own chip kick before passing back inside to David Ryan who scored the try.

It was highly entertaining counter. It was a pity there had to be a looser. Castle Avenue hosts Lansdowne, (the only team to beat Tarf last season) next Saturday and it’s the battle of the university’s next week UCD making the short journey to Dublin University.

Cork Constitution 19-18 Young Munster Saturday, October 1st, Temple Hill, 2:30pm

Cork Constitution clawed their way back from a 9-point deficit to win by the slenderest of margins and come out on top in the Munster derby.

It looked like it was Young Munster’s day when Conor Hayes crossed over for his second try, early in the second half. They led 15-6.

It was Johnny Holland first game at the helm as head coach. Aidan Moynihan reduced the deficit before substitute James Murphy charged over to score a much-needed try. Moynihan added the extras to shoot them into the lead.

However, there was more twists in the tail. Cusack with a well-struck penalty, put the ‘Cookies back in the driving seat. But it was Moynihan who had the last say in the 79 th minute. He kicked a late penalty to snatch the victory to the delight of the Temple Hill faithful.

Garryowen 14-50 Dublin University, Saturday October 1st, Dooradoyle, 2:30pm

Dublin University ran rampant down in Limerick, winning in emphatic fashion. Tony Smeeth’s matchday squad include 7 AIL debutants including Blackrock College 2022 School cup winning front row Paddy McCarthy.

Out half Aran Egan was one of the standout players for Trinity last season and he didn’t disappoint, scoring a hattrick of tries in the opening game of the new season. Fullback Colm Hogan, scored two tries on his return to the club after spending a last season in Old Belvedere.

The hosts only try came from Bryan Fitzgerald. It was a very tough day at the office for them.

Lansdowne 31-34 Ballynahinch, Saturday October 1st, Aviva Stadium, 2:30pm

The shock result of the round came on the Aviva Stadium back pitch where Ballynahinch took the spoils in a contest filled with tries.

Lansdowne led 19-10 at one point after Jack Matthews and captain Clive Ross scored tries. However, Adam Craig’s staged a brilliant comeback. Sevens international Fergus Jemphrey scoring an intercept try before centre George Pringle put his team in the lead with a try of his own. They got another try just after the beginning of the second half. They led 31-19.

The home side who are celebrating their 150th year this season, responded in the only way they know how. Sean Galvin and young number 8 Donough Lawlor scoring converted tries to level the score.

But, the day belonged to the men from the north. In the 72nd minute, a penalty kick from out-half Greg Hurtley handed his team a famous victory. Let’s not forgot, the Ulsterman were struggling for survival just a few months back. it’s unpredictable and that’s why we love the AIL!

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