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Ulster Bank League Division 1A Final Set For Aviva Stadium Debut

Ulster Bank League Division 1A Final Set For Aviva Stadium Debut

The IRFU have confirmed that the Ulster Bank League Division 1A final will be played at the Aviva Stadium for the very first time on Saturday, May 9, 2015.

The top tier club final was last held at the national stadium in 2006 when Shannon defeated current Division 1A champions Clontarf – a game in which the north Dubliners’ current head coach Andy Wood featured.
 
Lansdowne Road hosted a number of memorable finals between 1998 and 2006 which featured a host of current and past internationals not to mention players who have gone on to be involved in the professional game in Ireland and abroad.

A return to IRFU HQ will provide a fitting showcase for the latest crop of talent players plying their trade in the UIster Bank League.
 
In the 2006 final, Sean Cronin (Leinster & Ireland) lined out for Shannon alongside fellow current Irish international Donnacha Ryan (Munster & Ireland) with Alan Quinlan (Munster & Ireland) introduced off the bench. 
 
The 2005 final featured Rory Best (Ulster, Ireland & Lions) and Ian Humphreys (Ulster) playing for Belfast Harlequins and Tony Buckley (Munster & Ireland) of Shannon.
 
Current Ireland international Mike Ross (Leinster & Ireland) lined out for Cork Constitution alongside Anthony Horgan (Munster & Ireland) in the 2004 final and faced current Munster scrum coach Jerry Flannery (Munster & Ireland) and international referee John Lacey (Munster) from the Thomond Park club.
 
James Downey (Munster & Ireland), Bernard Jackman (Leinster, Ireland & now Grenoble coach) and Andy Dunne (Connacht) all played for Clontarf in the 2003 final against Ballymena who had Paddy Wallace (Ulster & Ireland), James Topping (Ulster & Ireland) and Gary Longwell (Ulster & Ireland) amongst their ranks.
 
The Ulster Bank League kicks off this coming weekend and with play-offs reintroduced to Division 1A and with promotion and relegation across all four divisions, each club will be hoping to get off to a flying start.
 
IRFU President Louis Magee commented: “The Aviva Stadium is the home of Irish rugby and the Ulster Bank League is the pinnacle of the amateur game in Ireland. There have been some exciting club finals played at our national stadium over the years and it is a fantastic opportunity for our club game so showcase its quality and the talent of the players involved in the Ulster Bank League.”
 
Jim Ryan, Head of Branch Banking, Private and Financial Planning, Ulster Bank, added: “Ulster Bank is dedicated to the future of Irish rugby and we are delighted that the Division 1A final will be played at the Aviva Stadium for the first time.

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“It is a fitting celebration of the club game and recognition of the contribution the players, clubs and their communities make to grassroots rugby in Ireland. We are looking forward to another outstanding season in club rugby, which no doubt will lead to a fantastic final in May.”
 
Ulster Bank League – 2014/15 Fixtures

All-Ireland League Finals At Lansdowne Road –

2005/06: Shannon 30 Clontarf 3
2004/05: Shannon 25 Belfast Harlequins 20
2003/04: Shannon 22 Cork Constitution 16
2002/03: Ballymena 28 Clontarf 18
2001/02: Shannon 21 Cork Constitution 17
2000/01: Dungannon 46 Cork Constitution 12
1999/00: St. Mary’s College 25 Lansdowne 22
1998/99: Cork Constitution 14 Buccaneers 11 (aet)
1997/98: Shannon 15 Garryowen 9