Roundup: AIL Saturday Finals Day

Garryowen are back in 1A as they produced a stunning display to overcome Old Belvedere. Queens University left it late but retained their position in 1B with a win over MU Barnhall. Galway Corinthians long awaited return to 2A will happen next season and they overcome UL Bohemian, with the Limerick side moving to 2B next season.

UL will be joined by Galwegians as they spent a year in 2C having been relegated last year, a strong performance saw them past Dolphin who suffered consecutive relegations. Monkstown are back in the AIL after a 21 year hiatus as Bangor drop to the junior grade. 

Division 1A Promotion Play-Off Final:

Garryowen (5T) 34-3 Old Belvedere (0T), Dooradoyle

Garryowen are back at the top table after a stunning 31 point win over Old Belvedere saw the Shannonsiders bounce right back up after their relegation last year.

The hosts set the pace in both periods of play and limited the Belvedere chances in the tie. The opening half was ferocious and cagey as penalties served as the early points on offer. David Wilkinson gave Belvo the lead before Kelvin Langan levelled with a 20th minute penalty.

Des Fitzgerald, Bryan Fitzgerald and Oran McNulty added tries at the end of the half with Langan converting two from three as Garryowen went ahead 22-3 at the break.

The Limerick men furthered their hold on the game in the second half with Gordon Wood and Jack Delaney crossing for tries as Langan tallied another conversion in the second half. 

Division 1B/2A Promotion/ Relegation Play-Off Final:

Queen’s University (3T) 20-18 MU Barnhall (2T), Dub Lane

Queens retained their status in Division 1B as a late Ben McFarlane penalty broke Barnhall hearts of a shot in the second tier.

It was the hosts who drew first blood with Ryan Street crossing the whitewash for a 5-0 lead. James Gorham slotted two penalties to not only bring Barnhall right back into the tie but saw the Kildare side lead by a single point.

Just on half time Queens crossed for a second try to regain their lead. Josh Stevens with the score and McFarlane converted for a 12-6 lead at the break.

Barnhall started the better in the second half, crossing for the opening score as Conor Duggan brought them to within a point before Gorham slotted the conversion for a narrow lead.

Queens hit back with their third try this going unconverted but the score from Joe Hopes was a crucial one for the lead. It did not last long as Barnhall were over again, Greg Edogun crossing for their second try and going unconverted it was still enough for a one point margin, 18-17.

The game was very much in the balance nearing the end of proceedings. McFarlane striking a penalty with five left on then clock for the lead, Queens shut shoo in the final minutes to confirm the result.

Division 2A/2B Promotion/ Relegation Play-Off Final:

UL Bohemian (3T) 21-35 Galway Corinthians (4T), Annacotty

UL Bohemian will be playing in 2B for the first time in their history next season as they were relegated following the play-off defeat to Galway Corinthians.

The Tribesmen are back in 2A for the first time since being relegated at the end of the 2017-18 season and after the pain of falling short in recent years, they got their reward this season.

Corinthians drew first blood when Finn McNulty powered his way over for the opening score. The Red Robins replied when a deliberate knock on from close range saw a penalty try awarded just after the half hour mark.

With the lead secured UL Bohs pressed on and added a second try when Jake O’Riordan finished off a flowing move and Byrne added the conversion for a 14-5 lead. The Galway men did grab a try before the break Orin Burke going over and John Devine cut the gap to two points at the break.

Sean Naughton would land a penalty to put Corinthians narrowly ahead with the opening score of the second half. Momentum was with the visitors and Evan Kenny crossed the whitewash for their third try and Naughton converted for a 22-14 lead.

What followed was almost like Deja Vu. Naughton with a penalty before Kenny went over for another try which the out-half converted. Bohs replied when Padraic Galvin crossed for their third try which Byrne converted, it would be the day for the visitors as Naughton struck his third penalty to put the cherry on top of their promotion.

Division 2B/2C Promotion/ Relegation Play-Off Final

Dolphin 19-25 Galwegians, Virgin Media Park

Galwegians are back in 2B having been relegated in the playoffs last season, Dolphin drop down to 2C following consecutive relegations.

Dolphin attacked with plenty of intent in the early exchanges but twice were held up over the line. Galwegians would draw first blood when Shane Mallon crossed the whitewash and Tiernan Neville slotted the extras.

Straight after the restart the hosts grabbed their opening score. Timmy Phelan crossed for an unconverted try to cut the gap to two points. With 20 minutes gone Neville struck a penalty to further the visitors advantage. Neville soon added a second and following strong defence by Wegians they were ahead 12-5 at the break.

Wegians started the second half in strong fashion. Andrew Sherlock with an early try that went unconverted before Neville intercepted the ball and darted under the posts for their fourth try, the lead 25-5 following the conversion.

Dolphin would make it a nervy finish for the visitors. James Vaughan crossed for their second try and Daryl Foley’s conversion cut the gap to 13 points. Craig O’Herlihy then added their third try which Foley converted for a six point deficit. Wegians defended well in the closing minutes to take the win.

Division 2C Promotion/ Relegation Play-Off Final

Bangor 14-19 Monkstown, Upritchard Park

After a long 21 year wait to return to the AIL, Monkstown will be playing 2C rugby next season as they ended Bangors stint as a senior club. 2003 the last time Monkstown played in the AIL but after heartbreak in the provincial final they had scenes of jubilation this time around.

Monkstown started the better of the sides, in what was a cagey opening half Cian O’Donoghue crossed for the opening try of the contest after a tight opening half hour in Upritchard Park. Steve McVeigh added the second and a conversion from Matt Stapleton ensured the visitors were 12-0 ahead at the break.

O’Donoghue kept momentum with the Dubliners in the second half, crossing for his second try and Stapleton added the conversion to further the lead. Monkstown were then reduced down to 14 men and Bangor pounced, Ally McIvor with the try and Rhys Larmour converted.

Another yellow for the visitors kept momentum with Bangor and they added a second try when Conor Lusty crossed and Larmour again added the extras. Monkstowns discipline was costing them but despite another slice of cheese shown Monkstown hung on for the win.

Diarmuid Kearney is a freelance Sports Journalist based in Co Kerry. He has more than 5 years experience covering domestic and international soccer for different media organisations, while also working for local and national print and digital organisations covering GAA.

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