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Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Divisions – Play-Off Details, Ups & Downs

Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Divisions – Play-Off Details, Ups & Downs

Cork Constitution's win at the Palace Grounds earned them a home semi-final, while City of Armagh's try-scoring bonus point delighted the big home crowd as they retained their Division 1A status ©Colin Heyburn

The regular season wrapped up with title holders Terenure College and Cork Constitution earning home semi-finals in Division 1A, while St. Mary’s College, Nenagh Ormond, Instonians, and Clogher Valley were rewarded with automatic promotion as divisional champions.

Tony Smeeth’s Dublin University side were unable to avoid relegation after eight years in the top flight, Buccaneers are heading back to Division 2A after coming up in 2022, and Malone have unfortunately suffered relegation for the second year running.

One team that showed their battling qualities in particular was City of Armagh. Chris Parker’s men came up as Division 1B champions last year and fought tooth and nail for an eighth place finish, beating Shannon and gaining try-scoring bonus points in each of the last four rounds.

A special mention for newly-crowned divisional winners, St. Mary’s College and Instonians, who finished with the highest tallies of 85 and 83 points respectively across the five Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Divisions.

Coached by Sean Cronin for the first half of the season and then Mark McHugh, St. Mary’s won 17 of their 18 matches and racked up 16 try-scoring bonus points. Their only defeat was away to Blackrock College in January.

With director of rugby Clem Boyd and player coach Paul Pritchard at the helm, Instonians set an incredible new record of 32 consecutive league wins (all bar one with a try bonus) since coming back up from the junior ranks in 2022.

The Belfast club closed out their Division 2B campaign with 17 try bonuses and a whopping 814 points scored, for an average of 45.2 points per game. Simon McMaster ran in four tries and Bevan Prinsloo bagged a hat-trick in their 76-19 final round win over Skerries.

There was just one league point in it as Belfast Harlequins were relegated to Division 2C for next season, and there was final day heartbreak for Ballina who, having lost to Clogher Valley and learned of Bangor’s win over Midleton, lost the AIL place they won in 2019.

The team to replace the Moy men will be either Monkstown or Ballyclare, this season’s Energia All-Ireland Junior Cup champions. They both cleared the first hurdle in the All-Ireland League Provincial League Championship, and will meet in next Saturday’s final at Navan RFC.

The losing side will get a second shot at gaining senior status in the Division 2C promotion/relegation play-off final, where they will travel to Bangor, who finished second-from-bottom in the final table.

The Division 1A semi-finals will take place on Saturday, April 20, at the same time as the various divisional promotion/relegation play-off semi-finals involving the ninth-placed team from the stated division, and the second, third, and fourth place finishers in the division below.

The following Saturday features the promotion/relegation play-off finals, before the next day, Sunday, April 28, will see history made as the first ever Energia All-Ireland League Men’s and Women’s finals double header is held at the Aviva Stadium.



Final table

Semi-final fixtures: Terenure College (1st) v Lansdowne (4th), Lakelands Park, Saturday, April 20, 4.30pm; Cork Constitution (2nd) v Clontarf (3rd), Temple Hill, Saturday, April 20, 2.30pm

Final: Aviva Stadium, Sunday, April 28, 4pm (live on TG4)

Relegated: Dublin University (automatic)

Promoted from Division 1B: St. Mary’s College

Promotion/relegation play-off semi-final fixtures: Shannon (9th, Div 1A) v Old Belvedere (4th, Div 1B), Thomond Park back pitch; Old Wesley (2nd, Div 1B) v Garryowen (3rd, Div 1B), Energia Park, Saturday, April 20, both 2.30pm kick-offs

Division 1A clubs for next season: Terenure College, Cork Constitution, Clontarf, Lansdowne, Ballynahinch, Young Munster, UCD, City of Armagh, St. Mary’s College, 1 from Shannon/Old Wesley/Garryowen/Old Belvedere


Final table

Division 1B champions/Promoted: St. Mary’s College

Relegated: Buccaneers (automatic)

Promoted from Division 2A: Nenagh Ormond

Promotion/relegation play-off semi-final fixtures: Queen’s University (9th, Div 1B) v Banbridge (4th, Div 2A), Dub Lane; Cashel (2nd, Div 2A) v MU Barnhall (3rd, Div 2A), Spafield, Saturday, April 20, both 2.30pm kick-offs

Division 1B clubs for next season: Dublin University, 3 from Shannon/Old Wesley/Garryowen/Old Belvedere, Highfield, UCC, Blackrock College, Naas, Nenagh Ormond, 1 from Queen’s University/Banbridge/Cashel/MU Barnhall


Final table

Division 2A champions/Promoted: Nenagh Ormond

Relegated: Malone (automatic)

Promoted from Division 2B: Instonians

Promotion/relegation play-off semi-final fixtures: UL Bohemian (9th, Div 2A) v Sligo Rugby (4th, Div 2B), Annacotty; Galway Corinthians (2nd, Div 2B) v Wanderers (3rd, Div 2B), Corinthian Park, Saturday, April 20, both 2.30pm kick-offs

Division 2A clubs for next season: Buccaneers, 3 from Queen’s University/Banbridge/Cashel/MU Barnhall, Navan, Old Crescent, Ballymena, Greystones, Instonians, 1 from UL Bohemian/Sligo Rugby/Galway Corinthians/Wanderers


Final table

Division 2B champions/Promoted: Instonians

Relegated: Belfast Harlequins (automatic)

Promoted from Division 2C: Clogher Valley

Promotion/relegation play-off semi-final fixtures: Dolphin (9th, Div 2B) v Enniscorthy (4th, Div 2C), Virgin Media Park; Galwegians (2nd, Div 2C) v Bruff (3rd, Div 2C), Crowley Park, Saturday, April 20, both 2.30pm kick-offs

Division 2B clubs for next season: Malone, 3 from UL Bohemian/Sligo Rugby/Galway Corinthians/Wanderers, Dungannon, Malahide, Rainey, Skerries, Clogher Valley, 1 from Dolphin/Enniscorthy/Galwegians/Bruff


Final table

Division 2C champions/Promoted: Clogher Valley

Relegated: Ballina (automatic)

Promoted from All-Ireland Provincial League Championship: Ballyclare/Monkstown (1 automatic)

Promotion/relegation play-off final: Bangor (9th, Div 2C) v All-Ireland Provincial League Championship runners-up (Ballyclare/Monkstown), Upritchard Park, Saturday, April 27, 2.30pm

Division 2C clubs for next season: Belfast Harlequins, 3 from Dolphin/Enniscorthy/Galwegians/Bruff, Midleton, Tullamore, Clonmel, Omagh Academicals, 1 from Ballyclare/Monkstown, 1 from Bangor/Ballyclare/Monkstown


Play-off results

All-Ireland Provincial League Championship final: Ballyclare (Ulster champions) v Monkstown (Leinster champions), Navan RFC, Saturday, April 13, 2pm