Final round of league games unlikely to resolve play-off issues

Today’s Ulster Bank League Division 1 clash between Clontarf and UCD is expected to be the first of two games between the teams in the next couple of weeks.

First plays fourth with Clontarf guaranteed pole position for the play-offs irrespective of the outcome. UCD bid to overtake Cork Constitution in third place, but it’s unlikely that this final round of games will make a difference.

Con have four points to spare over the students, and they take on struggling Galwegians at Temple Hill this afternoon (2.30pm). A home win is very much on the cards and Con will hope to pick up a bonus point to threaten Young Munster’s current standing in second. The Limerick side are home to deposed champions Lansdowne.

In Division 1B it’s still all to play for between fourth and fifth placed Buccaneers and Old Wesley, with three points between them. Buccaneers are away to Shannon and Wesley at home to UL Bohs.

Shannon (34 points) and Bohs (32) are, along with Dolphin (34) and Blackrock (32), all tussling to avoid the relegation play offs, but one of them will be forced to play extra games to survive.

In the Division 2A and B play offs, Sunday’s Well face the journey to Derry for the second time in a month. They’re looking for victory over the long-term league leaders who lost their bid for automatic promotion through a late season collapse.

Highfield caught up with and overcame Derry in the last game of the season to become champions and gain automatic promotion to 2A.

Skerries, forced into the race for Division 2A survival, take on Greystones, who finished fourth in Division 2B, at Holmpatrick today, while Derry’s bid for promotion hinges on the outcome of the most recent clash with the Cork club.

Even then, the winners of this tie at Judge’s Road would still have to travel to take on the winners of the game in Holmpatrick.

Even though Skerries have home advantage, you wouldn’t bet on a decent Greystones team taking one step towards moving up a division, and Sunday’s Well certainly feel they have the power to edge past Derry given the Ulster team’s recent collapse.

Rainey Old Boys bid to keep their Division 2B status when they take on Wanderers at Hatrick Park, the Dublin team impressing in the try scoring stakes. Wanderers only finished fourth to edge into the play-offs, but the tries flowed readily and they had six bonus point wins in their eleven victories.

Rainey lost 13 of their 18 games but would feel they were somewhat unlucky in losing seven by one score or less.

There was nothing but points difference between Tullamore and Bruff in second and third places respectively in Division 2C but enough for Tullamore to win home advantage at Spollenstown. This is the third meeting between the sides, Bruff having won both games by 22-15 and 9-8 respectively.

Clonmel host Enniscorthy at Ardgaoithe today in the second of their round-robin games and victory here will set them up perfectly for the third match at home to Bangor. Victory for Clonmel would then put them top of the leader board leaving them needing just a draw to win Division 2C status next season.

Meanwhile, the final of the Fraser McMullen Ireland Under-20 Cup takes place in Portlaoise between Cork Constitution and UCD. Con, seeking their second title in three years, earned a place in the final with a walkover against Blackrock and an 18-13 semi final win against University College Cork. UCD beat Shannon (41-5) and Terenure 21-18 in the previous rounds.


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