…Reaction To The Weekend’s Results…Round Robin Series Fixtures And Dates…The Week That Was…Player In Focus: Stephen Nolan (Terenure College)…AIB League Team Of The Week…
REACTION TO THE WEEKEND’S RESULTS: Things are certainly hotting up at both ends of the table in AIB League Division One.
The primary focus of RTE’s excellent magazine progamme ‘Against The Head’ this week was the domestic league and how teams are shaping up in the top flight.
See below for a collection of quotes from the programme from coaches and players – some of whom are at the business end of the table and others right in the relegation dogfight.
Geoff Moylan (coach of Buccaneers who are currently 14th): “It’s been a feature of our game most of the season, we’ve been starting poorly in most of our games. When we do, we generally don’t win them. When we do start well, we generally win them.
“We went 15-0 down after 15 minutes (against Cork Constitution). But the next 40 minutes we owned it – stormed back into it at 22-16.
“Con got a couple of fortuitous tries – there was an intercept and a blockdown – we were just trying to force the game a bit towards the finish.
“Rather unluckily we were denied a bonus point in the last play of the game. The lads showed great fight and great character and this fight’s going to go on.
“There’s two teams below us and a couple of teams above us. The bottom three play off in a sort of a round robin where we all play each other.
“It’s entirely in our own hands at Buccaneers here to survive. If the lads show the same fight and character as we did against Con, we will survive.”
David Lavin (captain of Lansdowne who are in mid-table safety in ninth): “It (the 8-5 win over Belfast Harlequins) was long overdue. The last three games haven’t gone our way. Thankfully a lot of effort went in today.
“We trained hard for the last few weeks and I think we got our rewards today and hopefully we can push on from here for the rest of the season.”
Andy Ward (player-coach of Belfast Harlequins who remain bottom of the table with three games to go): “Disappointing to say the least. A bit of discipline all-round cost us, not just in the set piece.
“But the fact was that we weren’t pulling things off that we wanted to do, stuff from the training park.
“We’ve had a very good run of late and it’s just disappointing that we’ve had to end that run.”
Mike Tewkesbury (director of rugby with UL Bohemians who have jumped up to third place): “It’s most satisfying to beat Shannon (15-6). Shannon have dominated club rugby in Ireland over the years. It’s tremendous for us to beat them – we’ve come a long way in the last seven years.
“I think this was a great triumph for the club today as a whole, not just on the pitch but off the pitch as well.”
Mick Galwey (coach with Shannon, the defending champions who are now fourth in the table): “It (the last game at Thomond Park) was a great occasion, a great crowd turned up. I think it was fitting that Shannon and Bohs played the final match here. We’ve been the two tenants, I think, for always really.
“From that point of view it was great, but unfortunately it was the wrong result from our own point of view.
“It was an historic day but we won’t be remembering it for the right reasons.”
ROUND ROBIN SERIES FIXTURES AND DATES: With the completion of the four provincial Qualifying League competitions, the fixtures and dates have been confirmed for this season’s AIB League Round Robin Series.
Kick-offs will be at 2.30pm unless stated. The points system will be the same as in the AIB League proper.
The overall round robin winners will be promoted to Division Three for next season, while the second-placed team will play-off against the side finishing second from bottom in Division Three for the other available place.
The Division Three team will have home advantage for the play-off.
Saturday, March 24 – Armagh v Monivea, Crosshaven v Naas
Saturday, March 31 – Naas v Armagh, Monivea v Crosshaven
Saturday, April 7 – Crosshaven v Armagh, Naas v Monivea
Saturday, April 21 – Play-off between second-from-bottom team in Division Three and second-placed team in Round Robin Series
THE WEEK THAT WAS:
…Garryowen flanker Anthony Kavanagh and Young Munster winger Derek Corcoran took on the mantle of ‘hat-trick hero’ for their respective sides last Saturday as the bagged a memorable three tries apiece…
…UL Bohemians secured the bragging rights as they beat their co-tenants Shannon in the last ever match to be played at Thomond Park before the ground’s redevelopment…
…County Carlow broke their duck as they won away from home for the first time in Division Two this season, beating Barnhall 13-7 to keep their hopes of avoiding relegation alive…
…Tries from Rory Cushion and Eric Jackman saw Division Two pace-setters Old Belvedere gain a 10-8 win at Clonakilty and gain promotion back to the top flight…
…Greystones full-back David McKechnie is closing in on a half-century of AIB League tries. The Leinster ‘A’ player touched down in ‘Stones’ defeat of Dublin University last weekend, taking his try tally to 48 in five seasons…
…Nenagh Ormond are coming with a late spurt as they bid to make the Division Three semi-finals – the Tipp side moved from sixth to fourth in the standings on the back of a 57-7 demolition job of bottom side Portadown…
…Not even a twelfth try of the league campaign from teenage winger Jordan Millar could help Ards beat Banbridge on Saturday…
PLAYER IN FOCUS: STEPHEN NOLAN (TERENURE COLLEGE)
Stephen Nolan, who originally hails from Haresmead, Foulksmills in Wexford, is a multi-talented tighthead prop playing for Terenure College in Division One of the AIB League.
Very much in the mould of John Hayes, with a 6ft 4in-20 stone frame, Nolan made his debut for the Ireland Club Internatonal team last month when he came on as a substitute in the 20-17 win over England Counties at Donnybrook.
He is a past pupil of Clongeen National School and Good Counsel College, and started playing rugby with the local New Ross club. He is currently working in fund accounting in Dublin.
He linked up with Terenure in the capital and also made quite a name for himself as a rugby league player, joining the Dublin City Exiles club, who train at ‘Nure’s Lakelands Park ground, to initially “keep up his fitness over the summer months.”
In recent seasons, Nolan has been capped in the league code for Leinster and the Irish Wolfhounds – quite an achievement for the Wexford giant who is known for his big ‘hits’ and high workrate around the pitch.
Always in the thick of the action, whether in defence or attack, Nolan has played a big part in helping ‘Nure win promotion back to Division and seeing them to their current position of seventh.
He scored the only try for Kevin West’s side in their 7-3 win over their Dublin rivals Lansdowne in January. He is back on the bench for the Ireland Club International team’s clash with Scotland in Edinburgh this Friday.
AIB LEAGUE TEAM OF THE WEEK:
15 – Fionn Carr (Blackrock College)
14 – Derek Corcoran (Young Munster)
13 – Trevor Powell (Nenagh Ormond)
12 – Ben Martin (UL Bohemians)
11 – Kevin Barden (Old Belvedere)
10 – Greg Jacob (County Carlow)
9 – Peter McKee (Cork Constitution)
1 – Stephen Rutledge (Banbridge)
2 – Gordon Ryan (UL Bohemians)
3 – Dave Lillis (Corinthians)
4 – Chris Napier (Ballynahinch)
5 – Alan Trenier (Clontarf)
6 – Richard Dodd (Nenagh Ormond)
7 – Emmet Wardell (Wanderers)
8 – Alex Dunlop (Terenure College)