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Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Divisions: Play-Offs Review

Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Divisions: Play-Offs Review

Terenure College captain Harrison Brewer is pictured on the attack during their hard-earned Division 1A semi-final victory over Lansdowne at Lakelands Park ©INPHO/Tom Maher

Aran Egan was Terenure College’s last-gasp penalty hero as he kept their dreams alive of winning back-to-back Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Division 1A titles.

Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Divisions: Play-Off Results Round-Up

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

Lansdowne fought back brilliantly from 19 points down at a sunny Lakelands Park, drawing level thanks to tries from Cathal Eddy, lively replacement James Kenny, and current Ireland Under-20 international Hugo McLaughlin.

Terenure looked Aviva Stadium-bound when captain Harrison Brewer went in under the posts inside the opening minute of the second half, leaving Declan Fassbender’s charges with it all to do at 25-6 down.

Craig Adams and Jordan Coghlan had both crossed before that, with the former’s try a tremendous, lung-busting effort – involving Adam La Grue and Conor Phillips – that began back at a lineout inside their own half.

However, with Terenure having to deal with two second half yellow cards and the teams locked at 25 points apiece, this semi-final turned into a kicking duel between Egan and Stephen Madigan.

The opposing out-halves traded late penalties, before Egan’s final kick, from around 40 metres out on the left hand side, gave ‘Nure a breathless 31-28 win.

Sean Skehan’s side will face Cork Constitution in next Sunday‘s decider, which will form part of a historic AIL Men’s and Women’s finals double header at Irish Rugby HQ.

Con won 40-34 at home to last season’s runners-up Clontarf, with the talismanic James Taylor kicking 17 points and flying winger Matthew Bowen expertly slicing through for his 14th try of the campaign.

In what was another excellent advertisement for the league, a three-try first half salvo gave Jonny Holland’s men a 27-17 half-time lead. Former captain Niall Kenneally was able to add to those touchdowns from John Forde, Ronan O’Sullivan, and the electric Bowen.

Clontarf ran in five tries in the end, including a terrific long-range score from Leinster’s Ben Murphy, with the elusive Noah Sheridan instrumental in it. Nonetheless, Con out-half Taylor continued to chip away with the boot, landing seven successful kicks.

Con are through to their first Division 1A final since 2019 when they were last champions, while Terenure, who are on a 13-match winning run, are bidding to become the first club to retain the trophy since Shannon in the mid-2000s.

It was a disappointing day for Shannon’s current crop as they suffered relegation after two seasons back in the top flight. Old Belvedere were too strong on Thomond Park’s back pitch, winning the Division 1A promotion/relegation play-off semi-final by a clear margin – 46-8.

Influential out-half David Wilkinson contributed 23 points from the tee for Belvedere. The fourth place finishers in Division 1B extended their season with second half tries from Jack Keating and Joe White.

‘Belvo will be back in Limerick for next Saturday‘s promotion decider, paying a visit to Garryowen who got the better of Old Wesley on a 32-21 scoreline at Energia Park.

The Light Blues are bidding to bounce straight back up to Division 1A, and Connacht’s Oran McNulty scored a key try and set up a late clincher for replacement Jack Delaney.

Meanwhile, Queen’s University dominated Ulster rivals Banbridge, winning 59-17 in their bid to stay up in Division 1B. They will host MU Barnhall in next week’s final, with the Blue Bulls edging out Cashel 25-23 thanks to James Gorham’s late penalty.

Jonny Hunter bagged a brace of tries for Queen’s, with Matthew Miller, Harvey Patterson, Rory Telfer, Rory Ellerby, and Ireland Under-20 pair Joe Hopes and Henry Walker also crossing. Ben McFarlane landed all eight conversions and a penalty for a 19-point haul.

There was late drama at Annacotty where a retaken conversion from Harry Byrne, following an Ihechi Oji try, saw Division 2A’s UL Bohemian snatch a 13-12 verdict against Sligo.

Bohs will be at home to promotion-hunting Galway Corinthians, who impressively came from 14 points down to win 35-21 against Wanderers. Current Ireland U-20 out-half Sean Naughton cut through for two tries.

Home advantage helped Dolphin and Galwegians advance to the Division 2B promotion/relegation play-off final. Dolphin gave Enniscorthy a 15-point headstart, but Craig O’Connell, Cameron O’Shaughnessy (2), Sam Boyle and Richie Heaslip all got over the whitewash, adding to a penalty try, in an eventual 42-20 triumph.

Naughton’s Connacht Academy colleague, Shane Mallon, came off the bench to run in two second half tries as Galwegians enjoyed a 40-17 success against Bruff. The Blues are bidding to regain the Division 2B place they lost twelve months ago.