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AIB League: ‘Quins Eyeing Another Semi-Final

AIB League: ‘Quins Eyeing Another Semi-Final

With Shannon the only side assured of a semi-final spot so far, Belfast Harlequins – who lost to the champions in last year’s final four – are just one win away from making the 2004/05 shake-up.

With Shannon the only side assured of a semi-final spot so far, Belfast Harlequins – who lost to the champions in last year’s final four – are just one win away from making the 2004/05 shake-up.

Third-placed ‘Quins will be without free-scoring fly-half Ian Humphreys however, for their trip south to Cork Con.

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The scorer of 38 points in his last two outings for ‘Quins, Humphreys suffered a shoulder injury in DC Gillespie’s side’s Ulster Cup final loss to Ballymena last week.

But even without him, Gillespie – hoping to steer the Deramore men to their second success AIL semi-final – feels ‘Quins should have enough for tomorrow’s test.

“We are capable of doing it but the injuries have certainly knocked the cohesion and continuity out of us,” said Gillespie, who is also without winger Mark Kettyle and pack powerhouse Colin Atkinson.

“It’s always tough going to Munster as Con are competitive and they got a good win at Trinity last week. They have a big squad but we’re certainly up for the challenge.”

Champions Shannon – semi-final conquerors of ‘Quins last year – can guarantee a home date for next month’s play-offs at off-the-boil Buccaneers.

Out of the title race, Buccs have little to play for but with Shannon visiting the Ballinasloe venue of Moher Road for the first time and David Kelly set for his first start, possibly in the second row, since January, the Pirates could fire.

Former Ireland scrum-half Stephen McIvor will watch his Blackrock College charges go through their paces at Stradbrook for a final time.

Departing ‘Rock after two seasons, McIvor is keen to bow out on a winning note at home to Galwegians.

Elsewhere, with Dungannon’s derby clash with play-off chasers Ballymena postponed until Wednesday due to the death of a ‘Gannon club official, County Carlow’s trip to Trinity takes on added impetus.

Second-from-bottom Carlow could leap a point ahead of Trinity with a bonus point win and will be again reliant on veteran fly-half Richie Murphy to kick them to victory.

The midlanders boss Ray Ward is a little worried though, having previously coached the Trinity Under-20s.

“They definitely have the ball skills and if they decide to throw it around, we could find ourselves conceding defence,” said Ward, whose side have racked up just one away win throughout the campaign.

At Castle Avenue, bottom side Lansdowne could be relegated if Carlow win – and Andy Doyle’s men fail to pick up anything against Clontarf.

Meanwhile, with former leaders UCD nine points behind fourth spot and disappointingly out of title contention, there’s only pride on the line for the students against play-off-bound Garryowen at Belfield.

AIB League Fixtures: Saturday, April 9 (kick-off 2.30pm, unless stated)


Blackrock College v Galwegians, Stradbrook
Buccaneers v Shannon, Moher Road, Ballinasloe
Clontarf v Lansdowne, Castle Avenue
Cork Constitution v Belfast Harlequins, Temple Hill
Dublin University v County Carlow, College Park
UCD v Garryowen, Belfield

* The Dungannon v Ballymena tie, scheduled for Stevenson Park, has been postponed due to the death of a Dungannon club official. It will now by played on Wednesday, April 13 (kick-off 7.30pm)


Dolphin v Bective Rangers, Musgrave Park
Malone v Old Crescent, Gibson Park
Old Belvedere v Midleton, Anglesea Road
St Mary’s College v Young Munster, Templeville Road
Terenure College v Ballynahinch, Lakelands Park
Thomond v De La Salle Palmerston, Fitzgerald Park
UCC v Highfield, The Mardyke
UL Bohemians v Waterpark, Thomond Park


Ballina v Skerries, Heffernan Park
Banbridge v Queen’s University, Rifle Park
Bruff v Old Wesley, Kilballyowen Park
City of Derry v Portadown, Judge’s Road
Connemara v Suttonians, Monastery Field
Corinthians v Wanderers, Corinthian Park
Greystones v Ards, Dr Hickey Park
Instonians v Clonakilty, Shaw’s Bridge