Kicking for touch... Cork rugby clubs won't return to AIL duty until January

Kicking for touch... Cork rugby clubs won't return to AIL duty until January

Cork Constitution's Gerry Hurley kicks a penalty with help from Niall Kenneally against UCC during the Energia AIL Division 1A game at Temple Hill. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

A shortened energia All-Ireland League programme is scheduled to start on January 9 next year.

It’s condensed to just one series of fixtures across all five divisions with clubs having nine games in all with semi-finals and finals planned in all sections.

There will be three games in January and February, a couple in March and one in April, following by the play-offs later that month.

The division 1A semi-finals are pencilled in for April 17 and 24 and the final on May 1.

All the other semi-finals will be on the 17th and the finals a week later.

Because of the reduced schedule the IRFU declared promotion and relegation will be off the table in the new season, a decision greeted by a mixture of disappointment and relief, depending clubs’ circumstances.

Of course, all this is predicated by the government’s health advice regarding Covid 19 and as such January, 2021 is a very, very long way away yet.

Clubs in the top two of their divisions, when last season’s campaign was cut short in March, are rewarded with five home games.

Cork Constitution were enjoying an unbeaten season at the time it was ruled null and void and are sure to be one of the fancied teams again.

Coach Brian Hickey can look forward to just four games on the road, three in Dublin against the students of UCD and Trinity College and Terenure College and the other in Limerick against Young Munster.

Con, who are also at home to the lone Ulster side, Ballynahinch, host UCC, as well.

College themselves will be in the top tier for the third consecutive season with Brian Walsh directing matters once again.

The Cork students found themselves in a relegation dog-fight before the season was pulled, but they were competitive in every outing and the experience is sure to stand to them.

College head to Ballynahinch on the last day of the season and visit the capital three times. They’ve home games against Munsters and Garryowen to look forward to.

Highfield were the unlucky losers last season, topping Division 1B and heading for 1A for the first time only to have the rug pulled from under them.

Kelvin Brown and Conor Glynn of Shannon line up a tackle on Miah Cronin of Highfield in the AIL at Thomond Park, last January. Picture: Don Moloney
Kelvin Brown and Conor Glynn of Shannon line up a tackle on Miah Cronin of Highfield in the AIL at Thomond Park, last January. Picture: Don Moloney

New coach Conor Quaid oversees a little changed squad, who have City of Armagh and Banbridge at Woodleigh Park and hit Belfast once to play Malone.

Dolphin, in Division 2A, have a bit of travelling to undertake, heading for Belfast, Ballymena, Athlone and Barnhall in Co Kildare.

Sundays Well and Midleton, in Division 2C, will see some of the country side, too, taking in Bangor, Tullamore and Enniscorthy with the east Cork set for Derry, as well.

AIL FIXTURES: 

CORK CONSTITUTION: Jan 9 v UCD (a), 16th v Garryowen (h), 23rd v Lansdowne (h).

Feb 6 v Trinity College (a), 13th v Ballynahinch (h), 20th v Young Munster (a).

March 6 v UCC (h), 13th v Terenure College (a).

April 3: v Clontarf (h).

UCC: Jan 9 v Young Munster (h), 16th v Lansdowne (a), 23rd v Terenure College (a).

Feb 6 v Clontarf (h), 13th v UCD (a), 20th v Garryowen (h).

March 6 v Cork Constitution (a), 13th v Trinity College (h).

April 3 v Ballynahinch (a).

HIGHFIELD: Jan 9 v Shannon (h), 16th v Navan (a), 23rd v City of Armagh (h).

Feb 6 v Old Wesley (a), 13th v Old Belvedere (h), 20th v Malone (a).

March 6 v Banbridge (h), 13th v Naas (a).

April 3 v St Mary’s (h).

DOLPHIN: Jan 9 v Nenagh Ormond (a), 16th v Old Crescent (h), 23rd v Queens University (a).

Feb 6 v Rainey Old Boys (h), 13th v MU Barnhall (a), 20th v Cashel (h).

March 6 v Buccaneers (a), 13th v UL Bohs (h).

April 3 v Ballymena (a).

SUNDAYS WELL: Jan 9 v Omagh Academicals (h), 16th v Enniscorthy (a), 23rd v Skerries (h).

Feb 6 v Bangor (a), 13th v Bruff (h), 20th v Tullamore (a).

March 6 v Midleton (h), 13th v Clonmel (a).

April 3 v City of Derry (h).

MIDLETON: Jan 9 v Skerries (h), 16th v Bangor (a), 23rd v Bruff (h).

Feb 6 v Tullamore (a), 13th v City of Derry (a), 20th v Clonmel (h).

March 6 v Sundays Well (a), 13th v Omagh Academicals (h).

April 3 v Enniscorthy (a).

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