Saturday 24 February 2018

Clontarf get early boost

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Dermot O'Mahony

Another club rugby season is up and running throughout the province with a variety of preparatory contests getting teams ready for their bread and butter competitions which all commence later this month.

Nineteen Leinster clubs will take part in this season's Ulster Bank League (AIL) which gets under way tomorrow week, and they have been using the Senior League as training for the national tournament.

The top eight Leinster clubs in the AIL last season are playing in Division 1A and 1B of the Senior League where they are split into two four-team leagues with the winners meeting in the Division 1 final in the autumn and the champions qualifying for the Bateman Cup in the New Year.

The remaining 11 teams are in Division 2 where the winners of Divisions 2A, 2B and 2C will advance to the knockout stages.

Two rounds of games have been played over the past couple of weekends in the Senior League and the final series of games is down for decision this weekend.

Clontarf have been the dominant force in Division 1B and last season's beaten AIL finalists appear to be in fine fettle again this time around as they have won their opening two games, 41-19 at home in Castle Avenue against Naas and 16-8 away in Lakelands over Terenure College.

The northsiders played their final match in Division 1B last night at home to bottom side Dublin University requiring only a point to ensure they topped the table but if they emerged pointless the winner of tomorrow's clash in Forenaughts, where Naas welcome Terenure College could pip them to the summit.

Division 1A will be decided tomorrow afternoon in a winner-take-all battle at Templeville Road when leaders Lansdowne, 50-0 home winners in Ballycorus against Old Belvedere followed by a 19-13 away victory in Belfield over UCD, travel to play St Marys College, 25-23 home winners against UCD and 16-7 away winners in Anglesea Road over Old Belvedere.

Old Wesley will win Division 2A if they pick up a point of any hue at home in Donnybrook against Navan, while Division 2B could go any of four ways as all four teams have a win apiece ahead of tonight's Blackrock College v Seapoint tie in Stradbrook and tomorrow's MU Barnhall v Bective Rangers clash in Parsontown.

Greystones have been impressive in racking up maximum points in Division 2C after beating Skerries and Malahide but they face second-placed Tullamore at home in Dr Hickey Park and the Co Offaly club could vault to the top of the table with a victory.

Division 1A of the Leinster League also begins tomorrow week while the remaining four divisions kick off a week later; the 39 teams have been preparing in the various competitions organised in the five local areas.

Irish Independent

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