Bleak Future for AIL

©INPHO/Colm O'Neill

 

Underwhelming, uninspiring and elitist.

The new plans for the All Ireland League have left us completely baffled as to how an organisation that gets so much right in terms of rugby administration can produce a document that – with the exception of the the top ten in clubs in Ireland – fails spectacularly to address the core issue facing the league, writes Rob Murphy.

Clubs in any sport need well constructed competitions to thrive and for the vast majority, the All Ireland league in its current format has failed to fit that purpose over the last decade. Moreover, the new plans do nothing to address that.

There is no question that the IRFU have woken up to the importance of the AIL in the context of professional rugby. They see the players that have emerged at AIL level to becoming fully fledged professionals. Connacht have six of them the other provinces aren’t far behind. The league is feeding the provincial rugby cash cow, so that is good.

They also appear to have grasped the fact that attendances have been pathetically low at Division 1a level and the competition needs some life. So play-offs have been introduced and the Aviva stadium will host the final. (A decision that must have been unthinkable for those within the organisation with no interest in club rugby. The marketeers as we call them).

UBL: 26 Games, 26 Predictions.

All Ireland League Division 1B Dublin University v Corinthians

Ulster Bank League Division 1a (Saturday 2:30)

Ballynahinch v Old Belvedere, Ballymacarn Par

The visitors toppled Cork Con with a bit to spare last week and should make it two from two here although Ballynahinch are an improved force.

Away by 8.

Cork Con v Lansdowne, Temple Hill

The Cork side were out battled at Anglsea Road in round one while Lansdowne cut loose on Dolphin and look back to their best.

Away by 9

Dolphin v Clontarf, Musgrave Park

An away win seems the obvious outcome here, Tarf are going to be a play off side in all likelihood, Dolphin are in for a battle to avoid the drop.

Away by 22

All Ireland Junior Cup Draw

Evan Lett on the charge during February's All Ireland Junior Cup final win over Clogher Valley. Pic: Voicu Duma

The draw for the first round of the Ulster Bank All Ireland Junior Cup is out and it should get Junior Rugby enthusiasts talking even at this early stage in the season.

Reigning champions Enniscorthy will begin the defence of their title against the side they beat in last year’s semi final, Portadown.

Last year’s runners up Clogher Valley will host one of the six teams making their debut in the competition, Clondalkin on the opening day of the competition October 25th.

UBL Restructuring in Detail

Skerries

The new Ulster Bank All Ireland League structures have finally being released by the IRFU with plans unveiled to change the league structure into five divisions of ten next season.

We’ll have some opinion on it all int he coming days but to start with, here’s a quick guide to what has changed and how it will effect things.

Division 1a and 1b will be retained with promotion and relegation unchanged so the league’s below are where all of the upheaval will take place.

UBL 1B: Team by Team

Galwegians

Here’s our first team by team guide to how the ten teams fared in Division 1b of the Ulster Bank League. Each week we’ll have extended features on different sides, this week, it’s Galwegians as they were involved in KnockOn.ie’s feature game on twitter.

1. Galwegians, 5pts

The only team with a bonus point win in round one, we were in Crowley Park on Saturday and while you wouldn’t say the newly promoted sky blues were overly impressive, you had to admire some of the attacking rugby on show.

They scored four tries, three in the first half. The first a simple move in the centre where Gary O’Brien made a brilliantly angled run to power through under the sticks for try number one. The young centre will be a key component again this year.

Connemara Making Waves

Connemara

Connemara made it two wins from two in the Connacht Junior League on Sunday with a 36-7 home win over Galwegians. KnockOn.ie regular Alan Deegan travelled out to watch his club take on the locals. 

The journey out can cause a little consternation from time to time but watching a match at the picturesque Monastery Field in Clifden is invariably an enjoyable experience and Sunday’s match between the Connemara Blacks and Galwegians 2nds was no exception.

The thoughts of a slow, winding, bumpy trip out the N59 behind a slew of Sunday drivers even had me offering to cover the Corinthians v OLBC match for Knockon.ie rather than watch my son play.

Thankfully the Knockon.ie head honcho convinced me to head west to see a very accomplished home team put a talented, but disjointed, injury riddled city team to the sword.

Leinster, the Big Kick Off

Coolmine

The Leinster Junior League kicks off in earnest this coming Saturday with plenty of uncertainty surrounding the title challenge, relegation and promotion to the AIL to keep the dressing room lights lit well after training as coaches and players make sense of it all.

Here’s a quick guide to how things stand to start the week off.

Form guides from regional competitions, are never the safest guide to how a league campaign will pan out but they do provide some insight heading into the opening weekend of action.

Leinster Wrap

The weekend action in Leinster saw the conclusion of the Leinster Shield Group stages with Greystones, Navan and Skerries all showing their prowess and securing solid victories.
The Metro League’s are up and running too, well Division 1 is anyhow and the early signs are that Lansdowne and Old Belvedere are showing good strenght in depth for their senior squads with impressive bonus point wins secured.

The upset of the round saw NUIM Barnhall topple Clontarf.

The Hosie Cup action had plenty of tries at the weekend. Portarlington pipped Newbridge in a thrilling encounter 35-32 while North Kildare showed some good early season form winning 32-17 in Portlaoise.

Munster Results

The Munster season continues to build slowly towards league action with regional cup action continuing this weekend.Castleisland one the Tipperary derby and Skibbereen were in fine form.

Mc Elligott Cup
Tralee 10, Castleisland 11;

Cork County Cup
Skibbereen 20, Muskerry 3;

Connacht Results

The weekend of rugby in Connacht was once again a revelaing on as Corinthians, Connemara and Monivea all delivered bonus point wins on Sunday and are now firmly in the category of title contenders in Divison 1a.

Ballinasloe have their first win after a narrow 11-9 win over Westport, Galwegians and OLBC remain bottom without a point.

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