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AIB League Central: Week 14

AIB League Central: Week 14

…Dubarry Provide Buccs With Sponsorship Boost…That Was The Week That Was…’Quins Show ‘Best’ Form…Say What?…Try Of The Week…AIB League Team Of The Week…

DUBARRY PROVIDE BUCCS WITH SPONSORSHIP BOOST: Dubarry and Buccaneers have announced the renewal of the Dubarry Park sponsorship for a further five years, with an increased deal that will last through to the end of 2012.

The news comes as a timely boost for the club after their relegation from AIB League Division One last weekend.

Buccaneers RFC President Gerry McInerney said: “Dubarry’s continued support is hugely beneficial to both Buccaneers and rugby in the midlands generally. It has helped us entice international rugby to the midlands, and their increased sponsorship for a further five years can only bring bigger and better results.”

Dubarry’s Marketing Director Michael Walsh commented: “The previous five years’ association has been great. We are delighted with the Irish U-20s’ Grand Slam success, beating England and France at Dubarry Park along the way. We are also excited about the selection of Dubarry Park for the AIB Cup finals this coming Saturday.

“Buccaneers may be having a tough time at the moment, but we believe the club has a great future and will continue to be the hub of senior rugby in the midlands. It has been super fun to work with the gang at Buccs. The first five years has generated plenty of positive brand awareness for us, and we are delighted to be associated with this growing global sport.”

Dubarry are a wholly Irish owned company based in Ballinasloe. They currently export to 24 countries and supply a large network of Irish retailers.

Meanwhile, there was an interesting sight at Dubarry Park last Saturday as Ted Robinson dropped by in a helicopter to ferry his Buccaneers and Connacht team-mate Daniel Riordan back to Galway for the province’s Magners League clash with Cardiff. Robinson, who holds a truck driver’s licence as well as a helicopter pilot’s one, was ruled out of the game with a hamstring injury, while Riordan was on bench duty. Riordan actually made his full debut for Buccs on Saturday, playing at full-back in the 37-16 defeat to UCD.

THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS:Terenure College’s first league fixture against Cork Constitution in four seasons was a memorable one for all the wrong reasons. They lost 39-8 on their last visit to Temple Hill in March 2002, but helped by a 37-point contribution from Richie Lane, Con thrashed the Dubliners 62-12 last Saturday…

…Current Dolphin coach David O’Mahony did not have an altogether unhappy return to Lansdowne, the club he captained through to the Division One final in the 1999/2000 season. His side did lose 23-17 to Lansdowne last weekend, but a late try from back rower Donnchadha Murphy may just have saved the Cork side from slipping down to Division Two…

Martin McPhail touched down against his old club Galwegians last Saturday at Annacotty as UL Bohemians chalked up an impressive 29-7 win to edge closer to a home semi-final in Division One…

…Spare a thought for County Carlow as despite running in four tries for a 31-5 win over Thomond on the last day of Division Two’s regulation phase, they were still relegated as Malone hung on to earn a losing bonus point in a 19-17 defeat to Old Belvedere.

Incredibly, it was the first time Carlow had scored four tries to earn a bonus point in 45 AIB League matches. Their efforts were in vain but the midlands club are more than capable of rising back up the divisions. They have an excellent youth structure in place, new floodlights on the main pitch and some very good first team players, including out-half Greg Jacob, flanker David Collier and lock Damien Carley

…It will be a case of same old, same old for Bective Rangers next October when they compete for the 14th consecutive season in the AIB League’s Division Two. The Dubliners finished a disappointing 11th in the final table this season, but will be bolstered by having captain Damian Hall back from a long-term arm injury.

The club, which has just celebrated its 125th year, is already starting its recruitment drive for 2007/08 with director of rugby Paddy Walsh looking to add to the current squad. Former Bective and IRFU President Mick Cuddy sounded a rallying call on ‘Against The Head’ recently when he said: “I don’t think it will be long until we’ll be following Belvedere into the first division.” 2008 could be the Rangers’ year…

…Experienced prop Padraic Sisk may have played his last game for Sunday’s Well. The Cork side lost 29-20 at home to Instonians in their final Division Three fixture of the season last weekend.

Sisk, who was ‘Well’s captain this season, is ready to hang up his boots. He has been a stalwart for the club, playing well over 100 AIB League games for them…

Gerald McCarter had praise for Neil Kelly, the Ulster defensive coach, as his input helped City of Derry beat Queen’s 18-8 to secure their first home win of the season last Saturday.

Derry finished out their campaign in second-from-bottom in Division Three and now move on to play Armagh, the Round Robin series runners-up, in the relegation/promotion play-off.

Ahead of this weekend’s vital clash with Armagh at Judge’s Road, Derry boss McCarter said: “It’s nice to win but maybe it came a bit too late. It was a good performance, Queen’s tried to move the ball about a lot and keep the ball alive so it was a very good work out for our defence.

“The work that Neil Kelly is doing was there to see as we looked quite comfortable in defence. I’m delighted that not only was it a good performance but we got a victory,” he told the Belfast Telegraph

‘QUINS SHOW ‘BEST’ FORM: In what has quickly become one of the stories of this season’s AIB League, Belfast Harlequins’ fight against relegation moved up another notch last Saturday as they beat Ballymena 20-12 in a cracking Ulster derby.

Neil BestWith Ulster idle in the Magners League, Ireland flanker Neil Best was on hand at Eaton Park to cheer on ‘Quins in what was the club’s 120th league fixture.

And after eight straight defeats at the start of the league campaign, Andy Ward’s men have dramatically turned things around.

Now out of the bottom two, ‘Quins have won five of their last six games in the top flight, beating Shannon, Blackrock College, St. Mary’s College, Buccaneers and Ballymena to give themselves every chance of securing safety against fellow strugglers UCD on Saturday week.

Speaking after the victory over the Braidmen, Ward said: “It was difficult game. Derby games like this are a nightmare to play in. There is a lot of pressure and tension involved so it was a very good result for us to come here and win.”

It could turn out to be a season to remember for former Irish international Ward, who has had the company of Alan Solomons as coaching consultant at Deramore Park since the turn of the year.

The club have two cup finals to play over the next four weeks, beginning this Saturday with the AIB Cup decider against Garryowen. Next month they face Dungannon the rescheduled First Trust Ulster Senior Cup final.

SAY WHAT?: Six top flight coaches discuss their side’s most recent performance and look ahead to Saturday week’s final round of matches in Division One.

“I think we’re just still barely hanging onto the top four. Garryowen had a big win over Clontarf which means it goes down to the wire.

“At this stage, we still have to beat Dolphin. If Garryowen turn around and get a bonus point against Galwegians, it will put pressure on us. It’s a great league from that point of view.

“It goes down to the wire, it’s still in our own hands and we’re delighted to be still in with a shout.”

– Shannon coach Mike Galwey on his side’s battle with Garryowen to claim a spot in the Division One play-offs

“They’re a top side and a win up in Dublin isn’t easy. We went up with a job to do and we did it. It wasn’t pretty at times. It was very hard fought and we’re delighted to get the victory.

“We had a bad patch in January which put us under pressure. We turned that around, had to win every game and it’s so far so good with just one to go now.” – Garryowen coach Paul Cunningham gives his opinion on his side’s 12-10 win at Clontarf and the season on a whole

“You hope at this stage of the season, when the ground gets harder that you can concentrate on your brand of rugby and you can start to put things together. And certainly it happened that way for us today.

“We concentrated a lot on our continuity and keeping the ball off the ground and I thought we did that very well today.”

– Cork Constitution coach Brian Walsh on a job well done by his side – they ran out comfortable 62-12 winners over Terenure College to guarantee themselves a home semi-final in the play-offs

“I think we let ourselves down today, perhaps it’s because we’re secure in the table. But I don’t want to take anything away from Con. They were far, far superior and without doubt they are one of the best, if not the best, teams that we’ve played this season.”

– Terenure coach Kevin West doffs his cap to Constitution after they gained a comprehensive nine-try win over his side at Temple Hill

“This was effectivelty like a cup match. If we lost we would have been relegated. Very relieved, but happy. Our performance was good for large parts of the game.”

– UCD coach Dara Rowley gives his opinion on the students’ 37-16 defeat of Buccaneers which keeps their chances of retaining their Division One status alive

“Lost our shape very early, our discipline went early. Maybe the pressure got to the players.

“Not to take anything away from UCD. They played very well and we just couldn’t live with them on the day.”

– Buccaneers coach Geoff Moylan cannot hide his disappointment after the Pirates’ 37-16 loss at the hands of UCD which confirmed their relegation to Division Two

TRY OF THE WEEK: Plenty of high quality scores this week in the AIB League but the award has to go to Cork Constitution’s Richie Lane.

Former Irish Under-21 international Lane had a day to remember last Saturday as he bagged four tries, seven conversions and a penalty for a record 37-point haul, and it was his first try that most caught the eye.

It was a real ‘team’ effort – it began with an interception just ten metres from the Con try line from Tom Gleeson. Six passes later, with Dan Nethery and Ross Noonan putting in some lovely offloads, Lane was sent racing in for the score from near halfway. Scintillating stuff from Con on a perfect spring afternoon for running rugby.

Ballynahinch celebrate their promotion to Division Two
after their 53-12 troucing of Waterpark at sunny Ballinakill
last Saturday.

The Hinch’s Stewart Megaw features in our AIB League Team of the Week.

Photo courtesy of DicksonDigital

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AIB LEAGUE TEAM OF THE WEEK (April 7):

15 – Fionn Carr (Blackrock College)
14 – Richie Lane (Cork Constitution)
13 – Stewart Megaw (Ballynahinch)
12 – William Wallace (Buccaneers)
11 – Darren Classens (Young Munster)
10 – Gavin Dunne (UCC)
9 – Paul O’Donohoe (UCD)
1 – Padraic Sisk (Sunday’s Well)
2 – Damien Campbell (Rainey Old Boys)
3 – Gerry King (Connemara)
4 – Ross Noonan (Cork Constitution)
5 – Lewis Stevenson (Belfast Harlequins)
6 – Stuart Abbott (Greystones)
7 – Michael Carroll (Bruff)
8 – Sean Hennessy (County Carlow)