The All-Ireland League is back with a bang this Friday night, with the first in a planned series of ‘Friday Night Lights’ matches featuring local rivals. Dooradoyle in Limerick will be lit up for the clash between Garryowen and the newly-promoted Young Munster in Division 1A, which will also act as a curtain raiser for the start of the 21st season for the All-Ireland League.
The All-Ireland League’s ‘Friday Night Lights’ series will feature some key local derbies across the divisions, and with the aim for the series to become a regular event this season and into the future.
Garryowen will also feature in another floodlit special in round two of the All-Ireland League when they make the short trip to Thomond Park to face perennial league favourites, Shannon, on Friday, October 8.
Garryowen captain Conan Doyle is looking forward to the opening matches. He said: “Playing under floodlights is always great. We played Shannon under lights last year and the atmosphere was terrific.
“We are really looking forward to the game against Young Munster this week and Shannon the following week. It is something more clubs should look at.”
Donnybrook in Dublin will also stage at least two further All-Ireland League ‘Friday Night Lights’ matches when Old Wesley host UCD at the end of October, and then take on Dublin University in April.
Further games will be added to the All-Ireland League’s ‘Friday Night Lights’ schedule throughout the season.
IRFU Domestic Rugby Manager Scott Walker is excited by the prospect of more games under lights, saying: “The domestic rugby landscape has changed and clubs are looking for ways to attract people to their matches. We feel that ‘Friday Night Lights’ will prove a big boost for them in this.
“The provincial teams have shown that there is an appetite for night games and the clubs can capitalise on this.
“By placing the emphasis on local derby matches, we hope that clubs will attract more supporters but we also recognise that players, coaches and supporters have lives outside of rugby and we are adapting to that changed landscape.”
The rest of the league kicks into action this Saturday afternoon with reigning Division 1 champions Cork Constitution travelling to Stradbrook to face a Blackrock College side that surprised them in the early stages of last season.
This is the last season under the current league structures. Divisions 1A and 1B will change to ten-team divisions next year, and it promises to be one of the most competitive leagues for many years as teams vie for position and promotion.
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FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS SERIES:
Friday, October 1: Garryowen v Young Munster, Dooradoyle, 7.30pm
Friday, October 8: Shannon v Garryowen, Thomond Park, 7.30pm
Friday, October 22: Old Wesley v UCD, Donnybrook, 8pm
Friday, April 1: Old Wesley v Dublin University, Donnybrook, 8pm
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