There will be plenty of travelling done by some of Ireland’s leading club teams this weekend as the 2007/08 AIB Cup first round takes place with only two of the scheduled 16 matches involving sides from the same province.
Round one of the new-look AIB Cup sees teams from Division Two and Division Three of the AIB League go head-to-head to gain the right to join the 16 Division One sides in the second round, which will be played on Saturday week (October 13).
The AIB Cup first came on the domestic scene during the 2005/06 season when 17 clubs were entered into an open draw for the inaugural competition, with Cork Constitution emerging as 37-12 victors of St. Mary’s College in the final played at Lansdowne Road.
The four IRFU provincial branches nominated the clubs that appeared in the first two AIB Cup competitions, with Garryowen beating Belfast Harlequins 20-7 at Dubarry Park to lift the title earlier last April.
This season, for the first time, all 48 AIB League clubs were invited in the AIB Cup. The provincial breakdown of the 48 participating clubs is – Leinster (17), Munster (16), Ulster (11) and Connacht (4).
Only seven of the clubs competing in the AIB Cup’s opening round this Saturday have previously played in the AIB Cup – Malone, Clonakilty, Buccaneers, De La Salle Palmerston, Suttonians, Belfast Harlequins and Nenagh Ormond.
Only two of the first round ties – Malone v Ards and Bruff v Highfield – involve clubs from the same province. A total of 14 of the opening round games involve clubs from different AIB League divisions while only two games – County Carlow v Midleton and Thomond v Belfast Harlequins – will see clubs from the same division clashing.
With County Carlow drawn against Midleton, at least one Division Three club is guaranteed to make it through to Saturday week’s second round.
The draw for the third round of the 2007/08 AIB Cup will take place before Christmas with the ties set for Saturday, January 5, 2008. The quarter-finals are due to take place on Saturday, February 2, the semi-finals on Saturday, March 8 and the AIB Cup final on Saturday, April 12.
Individual match previews for the AIB Cup’s first round games will be published on www.IrishRugby.ie both today and tomorrow.
– To view this season’s AIB Cup draw and its fixtures in full, please click here
– To view a video of the draw and reaction at the draw venue Dooradoyle, please click here
– To view photos of the draw taking place at the home of Garryowen FC, please click here
2007/08 AIB CUP FIRST ROUND FIXTURES: Saturday, October 6 (kick-off 2.30pm unless stated)
Match A: Malone v Ards, Gibson Park, 7.30pm (being played on Thursday, October 4)
Match B: Corinthians v Barnhall, Corinthian Park
Match C: County Carlow v Midleton, Oak Park
Match D: City of Derry v Clonakilty, Judge’s Road
Match E: Waterpark v Buccanneers, Ballinakill
Match F: Rainey Old Boys v De La Salle Palmerston, Hatrick Park
Match G: Banbridge v Bective Rangers, Rifle Park
Match H: UCC v Old Wesley, The Mardyke
Match I: Suttonians v Queen’s University, JJ McDowell Memorial Grounds
Match J: Dublin University v Sunday’s Well, College Park
Match K: Thomond v Belfast Harlequins, Liam Fitzgerald Park
Match L: Ballynahinch v Nenagh Ormond, Ballymacarn Park
Match M: Instonians v Young Munster, Shaw’s Bridge
Match N: Bruff v Highfield, Kilballyowen Park
Match O: Old Crescent v Naas, Rosbrien
Macth P: Wanderers v Connemara, Merrion Road