Leinster Club Rugby: All eyes on fate of Boyne
Tullow won a first ever Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup when they beat Skerries 20-3 in the final at a packed Athy Rugby Club last Sunday while the day before Boyne had to rely on some last-minute heroics to survive the drop from the Ulster Bank League on points' difference after drawing 25-25 in Bruff.
This result extends Boyne's season by another two weeks as they finished in ninth place in Division 2C, barely ahead of last-placed Kanturk who were relegated, and they will now have a home play-off tomorrow week against the team that finishes runner-up to Malahide in the AIL Round Robin.
Four Leinster League clubs are anxiously following the fate of Boyne as they will each play a division higher next season should the Drogheda-based club survive in the AIL.
Having watched an early 11-0 lead evaporate away at the Co Limerick venue in their final league game of the season, the Louth club seemed to be in trouble midway through the second half when they trailed 20-11.
But centre Brian Howell scored a try that breathed new life into Boyne before the hosts opened up a seven-point advantage with another try.
Then with a dramatic last play of the game winger Kevin McCleery scored in the corner to set up veteran out-half Niall Kerbey to kick the difficult touchline conversion in crossfield wind.
The dramatic escape means that the winners of tomorrow's AIL Round Robin clash between Omagh and Clonmel will travel to Shamrock Lodge a week later with the 50th and final place in the Ulster Bank League at stake.
If Boyne manage to complete their Houdini-like escape (it's only a few weeks ago since they seemed doomed for the drop), then Clondalkin will be promoted to Division 1A of the Leinster League, Co Carlow will go up to Division 1B, Wexford Wanderers will play in Division 2A and Balbriggan will play in Division 2B.
Malahide, who were promoted to the Ulster Bank League a fortnight ago after winning their opening two AIL Round Robin games with maximum points, complete their programme tomorrow when they travel to Ballina and they will be expected to finish with a flourish.
Tullow became the 23rd winners of the Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup on Sunday as they became the third club in the past four seasons to win the fabled pot for the first time.
Congratulations must also be heaped upon Athy Rugby Club whose members performed a superb job in hosting the Cup's 92nd final. Tries scored by winger Richie Nicholls and No 8 Stephen Smith along with a try soon after the resumption by man of the match, scrum-half Dylan Leybourne, helped Tullow achieve their Holy Grail.