UCC preserved their energia All-Ireland League Division 1B status with a strong second-half showing against Malone at the Mardyke at the weekend.
The Students trailed 3-10 at half-time which would have left them in the play-off position because of Banbridge’s 10-0 lead over Highfield up north.
But tries from Darragh French and captain Louis Bruce, both converted by Daniel Squires, who also kicked two penalties, ensured College retained their status and condemned the Belfast club to Division 2A next season.
Despite second-half tries from James Taylor and Luke Kingston, ’Field went down 16-10 but the Cork club still made the play-offs in third spot, meaning an away semi-final against Old Belvedere on Saturday.
Highfield wouldn’t have been in a position to overtake the Dublin club anyway because of their 32-21 bonus point win in the derby against St Mary’s.
Long-time leaders and play-off certainties Buccaneers endured a torrid end to the season, losing out to champions City of Armagh at home by 31-24 and overtaken by Old Wesley in the process. They won 39-35 at Naas to slip into fourth, one point better off than Eddie O’Sullivan’s side.
Bonus points were critical in Division 2C, where Midleton slipped into the play-off because of Omagh Academicals and Bangor collecting two bonus points each and Ballina another to slip past the east Cork club in the standings.
It was incredibly tight, Midleton finishing on 31 points, Omagh and Ballina on 32 and Bangor on 33, leaving the Cork club with a home play-off against Richmond from Limerick on Saturday week.
Despite scoring six tries for the second successive week against Limerick opposition, Cork Constitution couldn’t dislodge Terenure College from second spot in Division 1A.
Con won 36-26 away to Young Munster with tries from Aidan Moynihan, Harry O’Riordan, Gerry Hurley, Billy Scannell, Cathal O’Flaherty and a penalty try with Moynihan kicking two conversions.
Terenure kept their two-point lead with a bonus point win over Shannon and now host Con in the semis on Saturday with Munsters visiting champions Clontarf.
Even though Shannon finished with 34 points, it still couldn’t move them out of the play-offs, where they entertain Old Wesley.
Meanwhile, there was a disappointing finish to Ireland U18’s 6 Nations Festival at Energia Park Donnybrook as a powerful England side won 56-14 in the final game, crossing for 10 tries.
Two Cork players made the starting 15 following on from impressive wins over Scotland by 36-20 and Wales by 48-17 with ever-present Gene O’Leary-Kareem from the senior cup winners PBC again lining up at outside centre and Dylan Hicks (Bantry Community College) starting his second game at out-half.
They were joined by fellow Munster players, Luke Murphy (Ardscoil Ris), who began all three games, as well, and Crescent College Comprehensive prop Emmet Calvey, while colleagues Mark Fitzgerald and Jed O’Dwyer came on at prop and right wing respectively. CBC second-row Michael Foy wasn’t involved having started in the win over Scotland.
The visitors hit the home side early, scoring twice inside eight minutes and adding another pair to surge 24-7 in front, grabbing a fifth approaching the interval to enjoy a 20-point advantage before the resumption. Ireland’s only joy was a try, converted by Hicks to make it 7-12.
Murphy collected a yellow card in the second-half as England powered 39-7 ahead before Hicks limped out of the action and there was simply no stopping the onslaught with the English bagging three more tries before the end.
Earlier, France emerged as the only county to win all three games, following up their 23-22 success against England and 50-7 hammering of the Scots with an equally impressive 57-17 triumph against Italy. Scotland lost three times, to Wales by 35-29 in their concluding fixture.