The Irish Rugby Football Union today announced the fixtures for the 2010/2011 All Ireland League season. The premier club rugby competition promises to be one of the most exciting and hard fought in many seasons, following on from the success of the new format introduced last year. This is the last season under that current structure and league positions will be vital in determining next season’s leagues.
The All Ireland League kicks off on October 2ndand in Division 1A, Champions Cork Constitution open their title defence with a trip to Blackrock College. Beaten finalists St. Mary’s College will be at home to newly promoted Dublin rivals Old Belvedere. Perennial favourites Shannon are away to Dolphin in Cork on the opening day while Garryowen will play host to newly promoted side Young Munster in a Limerick derby.
At the end of the season, two clubs will be promoted from Division 1B while the team finishing last in Division 1A will playoff against the third placed team from 1B to complete the ten team league for the 2011/2012 season.
The top three sides in Division 1A and the top team in Division 1B will playoff for the overall Division 1 title as they did last season. Division 1B will see four clubs promoted from Division 2 and a playoff between the team in last place and the 5th placed team in Division 2.
The same applies between Divisions 2 and 3 and there will be no relegation from Division 3 at the end of the season. The four provincial qualifying league winners will be automatically promoted to the All Ireland League.
Two of the new teams in Division 1B will face each other on the opening weekend as promoted Bruff travel to Castle Avenue to face a Clontarf side keen to bounce back to Division 1A.
The other newly promoted side, Lansdowne, are on the road to Dubarry Park to play Buccaneers, while UL Bohemians, relegated from Division 1A, will be at home to Galwegians who finished fourth last season. In the final game of the opening round UCC will host Dungannon.
Four clubs will be promoted from Division 2 at the end of season 2010/11 and it looks like being a really exciting Division. Terenure, who finished last season in third place and Bective amongst others, will have their eye on promotion while the relegated Ballynahinch and Ballymena will be aiming for an immediate bounce back to Division 1.
Ballynahinch open their campaign with a trip Corinthians, one of four teams that finished level on 39 points last season, while the Braidmen face an intriguing tie against newly promoted Midleton, who only lost one game in their league campaign last season. Free scoring Queen’s will have a university derby in College Park against Trinity for their opening game and will hope they can build on last season’s promotion and consolidate their position.
Like Division 2, the top four will gain promotion at the end of the season with Nenagh Ormond, Banbridge and Sunday’s Well likely to be pushing for honours based on how they finished last season.
Highfield and Greystones were relegated and both face tough games first up with the Cork side travelling to Nenagh and the Wicklow side on the road to Sunday’s Well. There is no relegation from Division 3 this season and the four Provincial Qualifying League winners will all be promoted.
The newly promoted Seapoint face former Junior side and AIB Junior Cup winners Rainey Old Boys in their first game while City of Derry are back to face Connemara on the opening day.