Saturday 7th May 2005
Division One Final Shannon v Belfast Harlequin Kick off 4.30pm
Division Two Final St. Mary s College v UL Bohemian FC Kick off 2pm
Division Three Final Greystones v Instonians Kick off 12 midday
Shannon travel to Lansdowne Road on Saturday determined to defend their title and bring their seventh AIB League Division One title back to Munster. Although without their Munster contingent who are in action in the Celtic Cup final on Sunday, the side are well prepared for the clash. Led by captain Tom Hayes, who was named in the AIB/Irish Times Team of the Season for the second year running on Monday, the Munster side know however they are in for a fight from first-timers Belfast Harlequins. The Belfast side set down the gauntlet earlier in the season, beating the champions 19-18, after a fantastic last quarter saw them coming back from being 18-0 down. With plenty of attacking power, Shannon will look to the talents of Dave Delaney at out half, winger Fionn McLoughlin and flanker John O Connor to lead the way. They ll certainly be aiming to contain the efforts of Belfast Harlequins Ian Humphries and Paul McKenzie.
In the Division Two final, UL Bohemian FC will face St. Mary s College in what promises to be a very tight game. When the two sides met in the league in January, it was St. Mary s that came out on top, scoring 13 points to UL Bohemian s 11. However, UL Bohemian will be aiming for a different result on Saturday, spearheaded by players such as out half Ben Martin, who had a superb game against Dolphin in the semi final and the ever vigilant Cillian O Boyle.
Shannon are on course for their 7th All Ireland League title after a 21-11 win over Clontarf in Thomond Park on Saturday. The visitors didn t make it easy for the defending champions, with just 5 points between them at half time, on a score line of 11-6. The first half was a battle of the pack, with the greasy conditions making it difficult at times for both sides. Clontarf opened the scoring with a penalty from full back Darragh O Shea after 4 minutes. However, 9 minutes later Shannon out half Dave Delaney levelled the scores. They both got another penalty a piece, to keep the sides drawn at 6-6. Clontarf were dealt a major blow when O Shea was replaced due to injury, and at 34 minutes they were reduced to 14 men when second row Andy Wood was yellow carded. Using the extra man to full advantage, Shannon s winger Fionn McLoughlin went in for Shannon s first try, giving them an 11-6 edge at the break. Dave Delaney added another penalty in the 58th minute to keep them two scores in front. David O Donovan grounded the ball for Shannon in the 66th minute, but play was brought back by referee Simon McDougall for a forward pass. Flanker John O Connor sealed the victory with a superb try two minutes from normal time. Clontarf s Marc Hewitt scored for the visitor s in extra time, but it wasn t enough to affect the outcome of the match.
The hopes of an all-Munster AIL Division One league final were dashed when Garryowen were defeated by Belfast Harlequins in Dooradoyle on Saturday. The sides remained locked for much of the first half, with Belfast Harlequins notching up the first score after 27 minutes with a try from WP Strauss, which wasn t converted. Harlequins added another try 11 minutes later with Stuart Lamb getting the touch down after a great break from out half Ian Humphries. Ger Hurley reduced the deficit with a superb penalty before the break. In the second half, Harlequins kept the pressure on Garryowen, with Stuart Wilson on the wing crashing over for their third try. To Garryowen s credit, they put in a fantastic last quarter, piling pressure on the Belfast Harlequins defence, and coming out with a try from Paul Neville in the 62nd minute. It wasn t enough to halt Belfast Harlequins progress however, who will face Shannon on Saturday in the final in Lansdowne Road.
In the Division Two semi final, St. Mary s College were given a walkover by UCC, with the game called off due to the numbers of UCC players doing final exams and unavailable to play. In the other half of the draw, UL Bohemian FC had a comprehensive 32-10 win over Dolphin. The Limerick side opened the scoring after three minutes with a penalty from superb out half Ben Martin, who added to his tally with a try after 25 minutes. To their credit, Dolphin created a number of scoring chances throughout the first half, but were unable to get points on the score board. They came back at the start of the second half with a penalty from John O Mahony, with John Fitzgerald scoring a fantastic individual try after blocking down a Ben Martin kick. John O Mahony s conversion levelled the sides. Boh s centre Martin McPhail gave his team the edge when he intercepted a pass and ran the length of the field to score. Although Dolphin dug deep and showed tremendous heart, they were unable to stop UL Bohemian s progress to the final, with Killian O Boyle and John Ed O Connor sealing their victory with tries before the end of the game.
Clonakilty s unbeaten home record came to an end when they hosted Instonians in the Division Three semi final. With the game being delayed due to the visitor s flight diverted, the home side led 14-3 at the break, with tries from Derek Dillon and David Cookson, both converted by Alfie Harte. However, the visitors came right back into the game in the second half, with powerful breaks from the base of the scrums causing plenty of problems for the home side. Michael Orchin McKeever and Gareth MacLintock both touched down, bringing them within a point of Clonakilty. Instonians' out half Sean Flynn sealed the victory with a penalty in the 69th minute. Instonians now meet Greystones in the Division Three final next weekend.