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#EnergiaAIL Men’s Division 1A: Semi-Final Club Factfiles

#EnergiaAIL Men’s Division 1A: Semi-Final Club Factfiles

The race to be crowned Energia All-Ireland League Men's Division 1A champions hots up this weekend with play-off clashes in Cork and Dublin ©INPHO/Ben Brady

We take a closer look at the teams competing in the Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Division 1A semi-finals, and their history and form leading up to Saturday’s last-four fixtures.


Saturday, April 20 –

CORK CONSTITUTION (2nd) v CLONTARF (3rd), Temple Hill, 2.30pm (live on Irish Rugby TV)

TERENURE COLLEGE (1st) v LANSDOWNE (4th), Lakelands Park, 4.30pm (live on Irish Rugby TV)

#EnergiaAIL Men’s Division 1A: Semi-Final Previews

Tickets for the final at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday, April 28 – the first ever #EnergiaAIL Men’s and Women’s finals double header – are on sale now from Ticketmaster – buy here.


Club Founded: 1940
Club Grounds: Lakelands Park, Greenlea Grove, Terenure, Dublin 6W
Director of Rugby: Ian Morgan
Head Coach: Sean Skehan
Club Captain: Harrison Brewer

All-Ireland League Division 1A Titles: 1 (2022/23)
All-Ireland League Final Appearances: 2 (2021/22, 2022/23)
Recent All-Ireland League Semi-Final Record: 2018 – L22-15 v Cork Constitution (home); 2022 – W20-18 v Lansdowne (home); 2023 – W30-12 v Cork Constitution (home)

2023/24 All-Ireland League Form: P18, W15, L3, 70 Pts; WLLWWLWWWWWWWWWWWW
2023/24 All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Points: Aran Egan 104, Callum Smith 62; Tries: Alan Bennie, Luke Clohessy 7 each


Terenure College’s title defence got off to a shaky start, with three defeats during the opening six rounds. However, since losing 13-6 at Young Munster in November, Sean Skehan’s side have put together an ominous 12-match winning run.

During that period they also retained the Energia Bateman Cup and had seven starters in the Skehan-coached Ireland Club XV that beat Portugal. Wins at Lansdowne and Cork Constitution saw their streetwise pack come to the fore.

Terenure closed out the regular season with the top flight’s best defensive record, conceding an average of 16.22 points per game. It was a big factor in them edging their way to the summit, along with the scoring form of their half-backs, in particular.


The now Chicago-based Caolan Dooley, the match winner in last season’s final and the Division 1A Player of the Year, was certainly a tough act to follow. But his former Glenstal Abbey team-mate, Aran Egan, has impressed from the tee and with ball in hand.

The title holders have operated with two out-halves of high calibre this season in Callum Smith and Egan, who joined from Dublin University last summer. The latter is hitting his straps at the business end of the season, scoring 19 points at Ballynahinch to go through the century mark.

Experienced scrum half Alan Bennie, another standout performer, has bagged six tries in the last nine rounds. ‘Nure’s pack remains a physically imposing unit, with captain Harrison Brewer, Luke Clohessy, and Jordan Coghlan epitomising the club’s determination to go back-to-back.


This will be Terenure’s fourth time to host a Division 1A semi-final since 2018. They drew bumper crowds to Lakelands Park for all three previous play-offs, including wins over Lansdowne and Cork Constitution in the last two years. No club has retained the league crown since Shannon’s three in-a-row in the mid-2000s.


Club Founded: 1892
Club Grounds: Temple Hill, Ballintemple, Cork
Director of Rugby: Brian Hickey
Head Coach: Jonny Holland
Club Captain: David Hyland

All-Ireland League Division 1A Titles: 6 (1990/91, 1998/99, 2007/08, 2009/10, 2016/17, 2018/19)
All-Ireland League Final Appearances: 12 (1998/99, 2000/01, 2001/02, 2003/04, 2006/07, 2007/08, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2015/16, 2016/17, 2017/18, 2018/19)
Recent All-Ireland League Semi-Final Record: 2017 – W19-16 v Lansdowne (away); 2018 – W22-15 v Terenure College (away); 2019 – W23-3 v Dublin University (home); 2022 – L29-13 v Clontarf (away); 2023 – L30-12 v Terenure College (away)

2023/24 All-Ireland League Form: P18, W14, L4, 69 Pts; WLWWWWLWLWWWWWWLWW
2023/24 All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Points: James Taylor 141, Matthew Bowen 65, Daniel Hurley 45; Tries: Matthew Bowen 13, Daniel Hurley 9, Billy Crowley, Jack Kelleher 5 each


Having suffered away semi-final defeats to both of the last two title-winning teams, Cork Constitution made sure to gain home advantage for this weekend’s play-offs. It was a close-run thing, though, with just a point separating them from Clontarf, their opponents on Saturday.

Jonny Holland’s men were one of the leading teams in the early season, registering five wins in the opening six rounds. Since the turn of the year, they continued to set the bar high with eight victories out of nine, coming through some tight battles with Clontarf, Trinity, and Ballynahinch.

Last month’s 26-23 reversal at the hands of Terenure was their only home loss all campaign. They were the third highest points scorers (499) during the regular season, and had the second best defensive record, memorably keeping ‘Nure scoreless at Lakelands back in October.


Taking the reins at out-half, former UCC and Highfield star James Taylor is spearheading Cork Con’s bid for a first league title since 2019. He is the division’s second top points scorer this season with 141, including four penalties when Con beat Clontarf 27-26 in a January thriller.

Stepping up as vice-captain this season, back rower Jack Kelleher has been one of the league’s most consistent performers, also picking up Ireland Club international honours along the way. Billy Crowley, Jack’s older brother, has shown his versatility at full-back and centre.

One player who the Clontarf defence will be keen to keep quiet is Con’s lightning-quick winger Matthew Bowen. He has run in nine tries in his last five league games, including hat-tricks against both Shannon and fellow semi-finalists Lansdowne.


Cork Constitution have a very proud league play-off record at home. Since 1999, they have won 10 of the 11 top flight semi-finals they have hosted at Temple Hill, with Clontarf, this weekend’s visitors, the only team to beat them (25-6 in 2009).


Club Founded: 1876
Club Grounds: Castle Avenue, Clontarf, Dublin 3
Chairperson of Rugby: Stephen Byrne
Head Coach: Andy Wood
Club Captain: Dylan Donnellan

All-Ireland League Division 1A Titles: 3 (2013/14, 2015/16, 2021/22)
All-Ireland League Final Appearances: 9 (2002/03, 2005/06, 2008/09, 2014/15, 2015/16, 2016/17, 2018/19, 2021/22, 2022/23)
Recent All-Ireland League Semi-Final Record: 2017 – W37-29 v Young Munster (home); 2019 – W23-15 v Lansdowne (home); 2022 – W29-13 v Cork Constitution (home); 2023 – W13-12 v Young Munster (home)

2023/24 All-Ireland League Form: P18, W13, D1, L4, 68 Pts; WWWWWDWWWWLLWWWLLW
2023/24 All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Points: Conor Kelly 131, Dylan Donnellan 100, Jack Murphy 40; Tries: Dylan Donnellan 20, Aitzol King, Tony Ryan 5 each


Clontarf had a superb start to their league run, racking up nine victories and a draw before suffering their first loss at home to Lansdowne in January. Their only other three defeats all came on the road, at Cork Constitution, UCD, and Terenure.

With the two seasons in between cancelled due to Covid-19, ‘Tarf would qualify for a fourth straight Division 1A decider if they can end Cork Con’s challenge this weekend. They beat Con 30-26 at Castle Avenue in December, with all three of their tries coming from forwards.

Long-serving head coach Andy Wood continues to get the best out of a powerful pack, led by Dylan Donnellan, this year’s captain and a prolific try scorer from mauls and his own carries. Their back-line is not short of game breakers too, including club stalwart and former skipper, Matt D’Arcy, in midfield.


Leinster-capped hooker Donnellan has been one of the division’s standard bearers for the last few years. He is set to top the try-scoring charts for the third successive season (20 tries), an incredible achievement particularly for a front rower, and with such a high calibre of wingers around.

It is 10 years since Clontarf were crowned league champions for the first time. Enniscorthy native Tony Ryan, who played back then and was capped by Leinster in 2015, remains a talismanic figure in the north Dubliners’ back row.

The possessor of a skilful left boot and clever rugby brain, Portlaoise’s Conor Kelly is the division’s third top points scorer (131) and made his Ireland Club XV debut against Portugal. Summer signings Josh Murphy, Ruadhan Byron, and Louis O’Reilly have also made their mark.


With Donnellan and Kelly supplying 231 points between them, Clontarf were Division 1A’s leading scorers at the end of the regular season. ‘Tarf’s haul of 550 points gave them a match average of 30.55 points. Only Terenure (566 in 2022/23) have scored most points in an 18-match campaign in the top flight.


Club Founded: 1872
Club Grounds: Aviva Stadium back pitch, Lansdowne Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4
Director of Senior Rugby: Michael Quinn Jr
Head Coach: Declan Fassbender
Club Captain: Cillian Redmond

All-Ireland League Division 1A Titles: 3 (2012/13, 2014/15, 2017/18)
All-Ireland League Final Appearances: 3 (1999/00, 2014/15, 2017/18)
Recent All-Ireland League Semi-Final Record: 2017 – L19-16 v Cork Constitution (home); 2018 – W36-19 v Garryowen (home); 2019 – L 23-15 v Clontarf (away); 2022 – L20-18 v Terenure College (away)

2023/24 All-Ireland League Form: P18, W11, L7, 63 Pts; WWWLLWWLLWWWLLLWW
2023/24 All-Ireland League Top Scorers – Points: Stephen Madigan 94, Andy Marks, Rory Parata 40 each; Tries: Andy Marks, Rory Parata 8 each, Tom Barry, Sean Galvin 7 each


Having only finished five points above the relegation zone last season, it was vital that Lansdowne got the current campaign off to a solid start. Five wins in their first seven league games under Declan Fassbender offered plenty of encouragement.

Despite successive defeats at different stages of the season, they finished within a converted try of Terenure, Cork Con, and Clontarf before Christmas, and importantly won at ‘Tarf in January, as classy centres Andy Marks and Rory Parata continued their try-scoring form.

Ballynahinch mounted a strong challenge for fourth place, but Lansdowne, with Leinster Academy out-half Charlie Tector starting, returned to winning ways for the last fortnight, scoring 14 tries and 93 points in the process.


A number of promising players from Lansdowne’s 2023 Fraser McMullen Cup-winning side graduated to the senior squad this season, including forwards Tom Barry and Donough Lawlor, who have scored 12 Division 1A tries between them.

The headquarters club also recruited very well last summer, bringing in quality operators like Parata, Jack Cooke, and strong-carrying South African number 8 Hardus van Eeden. Teenager Hugo McLaughlin has also made a splash in club colours and with the Ireland Under-20s.

With athletic ex-London Irish forward Cooke wielding a lot of influence, Lansdowne’s lineout has been the launchpad for a number of tries this year. Their scrum is also a cornerstone of their game, bolstered by Leinster-capped duo Greg McGrath and Temi Lasisi.


Lansdowne’s canny knack of picking up bonus points was crucial in booking their play-off spot. They amassed a new Division 1A record of 19 bonus points, a dozen of which came from their try-scoring. Without them they would have finished sixth in the table.