GARRYOWEN’S unbroken run in the top flight of the All-Ireland League was ended this Saturday when the ‘light blues’ suffered a disappointing 40-26 defeat to St Mary’s College at Templeville Road.
A combination of that 14-point defeat at Ballynahinch’s 29-14 home victory over UCD has consigned the three-time AIL winners to life outside of 1A for the first time since the inception of the AIL.
Garryowen’s relegation follows on the back of Shannon dropping to 1B at the end of last term. Indeed, Limerick look set to have just one side in AIL 1A next season, compared to four at the start of last term.
Tries from JP Cooney, Mark Rowley and Steve McMahon with two Andrew O’Byrne conversions gave Garryowen a 19-12 lead in an end-to-end first half against St Mary’s.
Replacement Jamie Gavin converted captain Neil Cronin’s try to give the visitors a try-scoring bonus point. However, they were denied a losing bonus point when St. Mary’s replacement Gareth Austen crossed in the dying minutes. Garryowen have been leading relegation contenders since losing their first 10 games in Division 1A.
Young Munster are not mathematically safe in 1A either, after suffering a 24-23 home defeat to Cork Con at Clifford Park. Munsters’ will need to take a losing bonus point from their final fixture away to UCD on Saturday next to be certain of avoiding the relegation play-off. John Staunton’s side enjoy a five-point lead over second-from-bottom Ballynahinch with just one game to go in the regular season.
Brian Haugh bagged 18 points in their narrow defeat to Cork Con, including a try, three penalties and two conversions, while centre Kolio Hifo also crossed the whitewash.
Menawhile, in Division 2B, Thomond will have to rely on winning a promotion play-off with Highfield to secure their 2A status for next season. Thomond lost out to Skerries for the second automatic promotion spot from 2B on scoring difference by just two points. While Thomond recorded an impressive bonus point, 38-12, win away to DLSP, Skerries thumped Co Sligo 50-13.
Thomond scored six tries in all through Kevin O’Mahoney, Diarmuid Ryan, Owen O’Neill, Dean O’Brien, Darragh O’Neill and Michael Ryan, while Dermot Fitzgerald kicked four conversions.
In the same division, Richmond suffered a 16-10 home defeat to Navan.
In Division 1B, UL-Bohs’ promotion hopes were deashed with their 24-23 defeat away to Buccaneers. Robbie Bourke, Jack O’Donoghue and Darren Moroney scored tries for the fourth-placed Annacotty side at Dubarry Parkw, while Shane Airey kicked eight points.
Fifth-placed Shannon lost their final home game of the season when suffering a 27-7 reverse at the hands of Malone on the back pitch at Thomond Park. Tadhg Bennett bagged the Shannon try, which Rob Guerin converted.
Bruff and Old Crescent, who have been relegated to 2B for next season, lost their final fixtures in 2A. Cashel beat Bruff 24-7, while QUB defeated Old Crescent 34-5.