Persistance pays off as Highfield secure promotion to Division 1B

It has been a tale of perseverance for Highfield as the Cork club finally gained promotion to Division 1B of the All-Ireland League after back-to-back second place finishes in recent seasons.

Persistance pays off as Highfield secure promotion to Division 1B

It has been a tale of perseverance for Highfield as the Cork club finally gained promotion to Division 1B of the All-Ireland League after back-to-back second place finishes in recent seasons.

A 27-24 win over Cashel on Saturday guaranteed the Woodleigh Park side top spot with two games to go. For coach Tim Ryan, it was a well deserved success after knocking on the door since being promoted from Division 2B in 2016.

"He has been here five years, he has won three divisions outright and two second places," explained club chairman Eugene Carley. "It's an incredible record."

The former Munster and Toulon front-row forward has led Highfield on a run where they have lost just eight league games in the last three seasons at this level.

He has done so with a mix of players who grew up playing at Woodleigh Park and a few new additions to the side.

"About 75% of the squad are home-based players, they played underage at one stage or another with Highfield," the chairman said.

"We have Shane O'Riordan in from Sunday's Well at out-half who has made a big difference for us and one of our stand-out players this year was Dave O'Connell, it was his third year with us," he said of the former UCC captain. "The additions who have brought us to another level."

Highfield have overcome some frustration in recent years. Despite winning Division 2B in 2015 they weren't promoted due to a restructuring of the All-Ireland League.

However, Carley is insistent that the Cork side will cope with the step-up to Division 1B for the 2019/2020 campaign.

"We know all the northern clubs well," he said of next season's opponents. "The likes of Armagh, Banbridge and Malone, we would have played them over the last couple of years.

"It will be a step up but we will be ready for it. I know a lot of the other teams in 2A will be happy to see the back of us."

The win over Cashel, which saw Dan Healy, Timmy Ryan, Miah Cronin and Gavin O’Leary all score tries, was just part of a memorable 48 hours for the club.

"We all went up to Limerick to watch the Junior Cup quarter-final against Young Munster and they won up there as well so it was a great weekend," he said after a weekend that also saw the J2 team win in the Cup against Mallow.

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