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All-Ireland League: Promotion/Relegation Play-Off Results Round-Up

All-Ireland League: Promotion/Relegation Play-Off Results Round-Up

Rainey Old Boys got the better of second-placed Greystones to set up a promotion/relegation play-off final trip to Blackrock College ©www.charleshendersonphotography.co.uk

Division 2A’s Blackrock College were the only home team to win on a very eventful opening day of the All-Ireland League’s promotion/relegation play-offs. Buccaneers and Skerries will both drop down a division after losing to Queen’s University and Malahide respectively.

ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE RESULTS: Saturday, April 20

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DIVISION 1B PROMOTION/RELEGATION PLAY-OFF SEMI-FINALS:

Buccaneers 24 Queen’s University 30, Dubarry Park
Cashel 3 Navan 7, Spafield

DIVISION 2A PROMOTION/RELEGATION PLAY-OFF SEMI-FINALS:

Blackrock College 28 Sligo 27, Stradbrook
Greystones 20 Rainey Old Boys 23, Dr. Hickey Park

DIVISION 2B PROMOTION/RELEGATION PLAY-OFF SEMI-FINALS:

Skerries 22 Malahide 34, Holmpatrick
Midleton 28 Bruff 38, Towns Park

Either Navan or Queen’s University will join Division 2A champions Highfield in making to the jump to Division 1B for next season. Queen’s made their first ever trip to Dubarry Park and demoted Buccaneers with a tremendous 30-24 win, the result secured by a Jonny Hunter turnover in a tense final play.

Hunter’s fellow backs Rory Bell, Mark and Matthew Keane did the damage on the scoreboard with a try apiece, while former Ballymena out-half Richie McMaster finished with a handsome 15-point haul from the tee. In contrast, Navan, who will host the Belfast students in next Saturday’s Division 1B promotion/relegation play-off final, relied on a single try to overcome hosts Cashel in a gripping encounter.

Kiwi full-back Jonty Rae kicked Denis Leamy’s men ahead with a 24th-minute penalty at sunny Spafield, but his opposite number Paddy Fox replied with a well-worked second half try. The winner of the league’s Try of the Month award for February, Fox threw a dummy to ghost through a gap in the defence and then collected James McInerney’s return pass to go over to the left of the posts.

The Meath side had to defend for their lives late on, Cashel throwing the kitchen sink at them with Ben McEntagart making a try-saving tackle before pressure from a maul left the visitors down to 14 men. Another lineout drive had Cashel on the cusp of a match-winning try, but they were held up and Navan are now 80 minutes away from their third promotion in three seasons.

From early elation to late deflation as Sligo, last year’s Division 2C champions, went down 28-27 at Blackrock. Winger Philip Carter’s try after just 45 seconds spurred them on to a 22-9 half-time, scrum half Ryan Feehily also touching down and his half-back partner Mark Butler’s cross-field kick teed up a timely third try for New Zealander Calum Goddard.

Despite Carter completing his brace during the second half, Sligo fell foul of referee Mark Patton’s whistle in alarming fashion and a series of sin-binnings left them desperately holding on at the finish. It was not to be as Blackrock showed their experience with two late converted tries ensuring they edged out the Connacht side in dramatic circumstances.

Departing player-coach Mick Carroll’s final game in charge of ‘Rock will be a home play-off final against Rainey Old Boys, who ended Greystones’ hopes with a hard-fought 23-20 victory at Dr. Hickey Park. Rainey replacement Scott McLean split the sides with a coolly-struck penalty in the dying seconds as ‘Stones lost for only the second time at home this season.

It was 10-all at the interval, Andrew Magrath converting Andrew Donaghy’s try and kicking a penalty for the visitors before ‘Stones captain Andrew Kealy landed a fantastic 52-metre penalty, adding to Paul O’Loughlin’s converted score. The gap was never more than five points during an equally enthralling second half.

Rainey repeated their try (Oisin Quinn), conversion and penalty trick from the opening 40 minutes, but a Killian Marmion effort and another unconverted try – talisman Kealy crossed in the corner to draw the hosts level again – were not enough in the end as McLean’s well-hit three-pointer proved to be the decisive score.

Skerries will be playing in Division 2C next season, a disappointing 34-22 loss to north Co. Dublin rivals Malahide sending them down. Full-backs Kevin McGrath and Danie Poolman exchanged tries in a first half which ended at 10 points apiece, but Bobby Holand’s early try on the resumption set Brendan Guilfoyle’s charges on their way.

Bruff and Malahide will lock horns in next week’s Division 2B promotion/relegation play-off decider, with the Limerick men making it through thanks to an impressive 38-28 triumph at second-placed Midleton. The east Cork outfit struggled during the opening 40 minutes, leaking two yellow cards and four tries as they fell 26-7 behind.

Midleton did improve in the second half, taking their own try tally to four. However, Bruff crossed the whitewash six times in one of their best performances of the year. Winger Liam Treacy bagged a brace to add to Cian Clifford and David O’Grady’s early efforts, Kiwi back rower Taylor Jones drove over from a powerful lineout maul, and quick ball set up replacement Sean D’Arcy to score in the 69th minute.

UPCOMING DOMESTIC CLUB FIXTURES:

Saturday, April 27 –

Women’s Provincial Qualifying League Final:

Malone v Suttonians, Energia Park, 12.30pm

All-Ireland League Division 1A Semi-Final:

Clontarf v Lansdowne, Castle Avenue, 2.30pm

All-Ireland League Division 1A Promotion/Relegation Play-Off Semi-Final:

UCC v Malone, the Mardyke, 2.30pm

All-Ireland League Division 1B Promotion/Relegation Play-Off Final:

Navan v Queen’s University, Balreask Old, 2.30pm

All-Ireland League Division 2A Promotion/Relegation Play-Off Final:

Blackrock College v Rainey Old Boys, Stradbrook, 2.30pm

All-Ireland League Division 2B Promotion/Relegation Play-Off Final:

Bruff v Malahide, Kilballyowen Park, 2.30pm

All-Ireland League Division 2C Promotion/Relegation Play-Off Final:

Seapoint v Clonmel, Kilbogget Park, 2.30pm

Women’s All-Ireland League Final:

Railway Union v UL Bohemians, Energia Park, 3pm

Sunday, April 28 –

All-Ireland League Division 1A Semi-Final:

Cork Constitution v Dublin University, Temple Hill, 2.30pm

All-Ireland League Division 1A Promotion/Relegation Play-Off Semi-Final:

Old Wesley v Naas, Energia Park, 4pm