A lot more than provincial bragging rights are up grabs as Greystones and Blackrock College go head-to-head for a place in Division 2A, while the dreaded drop awaits either Ballina or Galwegians.
ENERGIA ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE – MEN’S DIVISION 2B:
Saturday, April 30
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
PROMOTION PLAY-OFF FINAL:
GREYSTONES (1st) v BLACKROCK COLLEGE (3rd), Dr Hickey Park
Six points separated these Leinster rivals in the final table, but it all comes down to these last 80 minutes of the season. Powered by prolific captain Killian Marmion who has amassed 218 points, Greystones have the benefit of home advantage.
A big crowd cheered them to a hard-fought 19-17 semi-final win over Galway Corinthians. ‘Stones missed out on promotion in the 2019 play-offs, so with a reinforced squad they have been beating a path back to the league’s third tier.
Marmion singles out South African hooker Ntuthuko Mthembu as a key addition to the squad, along with the return of Danny Kenny and Ken Murphy. Promoted from the Under-20s, Paddy Kiernan and Conor McAleer have also impressed.
“We know it will be a massively physical game as Blackrock are a quality side with a big pack, strong set piece and they like to spread the ball wide too,” said out-half Marmion.
“Both sides know each other well and we’ve developed a great rivalry. There’s an added edge as Brian Colclough, the Blackrock captain, is one of my best mates and house-mate so that makes it even more interesting!”
Chris Rolland comes in on the left wing in Blackrock’s only change to the side that won 29-17 at Belfast Harlequins. They have dual playmakers in Peter Quirke, who contributed a try and two conversions in Belfast, and ex-Trinity out-half James ‘Jesus’ Fennelly.
Blackrock lost their Division 2A status in 2019, losing the promotion/relegation decider to Rainey Old Boys. Now coached by the vastly-experienced James Blaney and Stan McDowell, injuries cleared up after Christmas and they have enjoyed a more consistent run of form.
Colclough said it has been ‘a progressive build’ of a season, all leading to this showdown at Dr Hickey Park. He knows that on their day they can beat everyone in the division, including Greystones who he deems ‘an excellent side’.
“We have had our battles over the last few years, losing some and winning some. Kill, at 10, will always be a threat along with their outside backs. Some very quick and dangerous players out there,” he said.
“Up front, they have some very mobile players also so we know it is going to be a massive challenge but one we are excited for. It’s a special day for Blackrock and for everyone involved.”
RELEGATION PLAY-OFF SECOND LEG:
BALLINA (19) v GALWEGIANS (34), Hefffernan Park
Galwegians will be hard to beat on aggregate after finishing 15 points clear of Ballina in Glenina. Connacht’s Diarmuid Kilgallen was part of a free-running back-line that scored four tries, including a brace from full-back Rory Gaffney.
Ballina will not go down without a fight and if they can match Galwegians’ fast start from last week – they went 10-0 – then it will be all to play for. The expected large crowd behind the Moy men could also help to swing the tie.
Supporters can look forward to some intriguing individual match-ups again with Ballina number 8 Dan Molloy up against ‘Wegians captain Kieran ‘Dint’ Downey, while wily out-half Mickey Murphy, coming up against the Blues’ Morgan Codyre, will be looking to get the most out of the home backs.
Adult tickets for Clontarf v Terenure College are €10 each and Under-18s go free – an Under-18 ticket must be purchased with an adult ticket. Under-18s attending require adult supervision. Any request for disabled access tickets should be emailed here.