Navan made history at Balreask Old on Saturday as their 40-20 victory over Monivea saw them finish top of the pile in the AIB League Round Robin Qualifying Series, thus earning them a place in AIB League Division Three next season.
There were joyous scenes at Balreask Old afterwards as Navan celebrated their move into the senior ranks after 85 years as a junior club.
They will take Waterpark’s place in AIB League Division Three next term, becoming the first club from Meath to compete in the All-Ireland competition.
Roared on by a huge crowd, the Brad Harris-coached side came good in the second half against Monivea after only leading 12-8 at half-time.
Indeed, the Connacht junior champions, who were beaten in their opening two Round Robin games, led by three points at one stage.
Tries from Ronan Coughlan, Rory O’Connor and Darren Blade kept the visitors in the hunt, with Kevin Higgins kicking a conversion and a penalty.
But Navan, who have bounced back well from their AIB Junior Cup final defeat, simply overwhelmed the Galway men after the break.
Scrum half Kieran Mattson chalked up a hat-trick of tries, scoring two in the second half, while Alan Hickey and Sylvanus Iro both touched down and the Navan forwards also forced a penalty try.
Full-back Karl Manning, arguably Navan’s best player on the day, landed five conversions to cap his impressive display.
Meanwhile, Munster champions Cashel returned to winning ways on Saturday as they confirmed themselves as runners-up in the Round Robin Series.
Their 22-7 victory over City of Derry was enough to seal second spot. Cashel led 15-0 at half-time with their pack controlling matters.
Stephen Simms scored a late consolation try for Derry, who had lost only one game previously this season.
The Tipperary outfit will now take on Sunday’s Well, who finished second-from-bottom in the final Division Three table, in a relegation-promotion play-off to decide which of them will feature in the third tier of the AIB League next season.
The play-off game between Sunday’s Well and Cashel will take place next Saturday (April 25) at Musgrave Park (kick-off 2.30pm). Extra-time will be played if necessary.
2008/09 AIB LEAGUE ROUND ROBIN QUALIFYING SERIES RESULTS:
Saturday, March 28 –
Monivea 9 Cashel 28, Castle Grounds
Navan 20 City of Derry 19, Balreask Old
Saturday, April 11 –
Cashel 6 Navan 20, Spafield
City of Derry 33 Monivea 3, Judge’s Road
Saturday, April 18 –
Cashel 22 City of Derry 7, Spafield
Navan 40 Monivea 20, Balreask Old