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AIB League To Begin With A Bang

AIB League To Begin With A Bang

The new AIB League season gets underway on Friday night with a mouth-watering, floodlit derby between old rivals Garryowen and Shannon at Dooradoyle. Stick with IrishRugby.ie for previews, news, match reports and reaction throughout the 20th year of the All-Ireland competition.

Dooradoyle. Friday, October 2, 7.30pm. The first match in Division 1A of the AIB League will see Limerick rivals Garryowen and Shannon go head-to-head once again.

Last year’s game between the two at a floodlit Thomond Park was an epic encounter – it finished 17-all – and the Parish side subsequently avenged their 2008 semi-final defeat in Coonagh before going on to record their ninth Division One title win.

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The clubs’ respective captains for the new campaign, Shannon’s Mossie Lawlor and Conan Doyle of Garryowen, came together to help promote the game in Limerick city, together with Michael Murphy of AIB Limerick.

The trio are pictured above with the new PUMA ball, which is the official Match Ball of the AIB League.

Commenting on the new AIB League season, IRFU President John Callaghan said: “I wish to extend my best wishes to all clubs competing in the AIB League in season 2009/10.

“This year sees the 20th staging of the AIB League and the 13th year of AIB sponsorship. The generous and committed sponsorship of AIB and its healthy partnership with the IRFU in our Community Rugby Programme are essential to the welfare of our club game.

“On behalf of Irish rugby, may I wholeheartedly express our gratitude to AIB especially in these difficult economic times.

“As we enter the new season, it is worth reminding ourselves of some of last year’s success stories.

“Division One champions, Shannon, represented Ireland in northern Spain by taking on and defeating a Basque selection. Ballynahinch made a strong statement on behalf of themselves and of Division 2 and 3 clubs by winning the AIB Senior Cup and taking it out of Munster for the first time.

“It would be true to say that the AIB Junior Cup goes from strength to strength with matches now attracting big crowds and huge local interest. Well done to Tullamore, the 2009 winners, but welcome to this season’s AIB League Division 3 to Navan, the beaten finalists but AIB Round Robin winners.

“This season will also be the fourth in which an AIB club International team takes to the field.

“The club game remains a priority for the IRFU. Its Domestic Game Committee is working hard at cementing the links between ‘Club, Branch and Union’. This I firmly support as the vast and enthusiastic numbers of players and volunteers from the clubs are the backbone of our game.

“My thanks to them and best wishes to all for the league campaign.”

There are some cracking ties elsewhere around the country this weekend to get the AIB League off to a memorable start.

In Division 1A on Saturday, there are two heavyweight derbies to whet appetites – the Dublin duel between St. Mary’s College and Clontarf and the Cork clash of Dolphin and Cork Constitution. 

Division 1B will kickstart into gear with the all-Ulster meeting of Ballymena and Ballynahinch, who swept all before them during a stellar campaign in 2008/09, and UCC will be welcomed to the Division One party by Old Belvedere.

Last season’s Division 3 table-toppers Corinthians will begin life in Division 2 with a trip to UCD, while fellow promoted side, Old Wesley, begin by hosting Lansdowne in a Dublin derby.

Dublin University v Terenure College is another tie with local bragging rights on the line.

Meath outfit Navan are back in the AIB League this season and they will get their Division 3 campaign off the ground with a trip to County Carlow.

The derby quota rises further with two more all-Ulster meetings – Instonians v Portadown and Queen’s University v Banbridge – and it will be Dublin South v Dublin North when Wanderers entertain Suttonians in their Division 3 opener.

2009/10 AIB League Fixtures