Our Lady’s Boys Club of Galway secured this year’s Connacht entry in Irish rugby’s AIL senior promotion-relegation tournament. 

Sligo, by virtue of an expanded AIL club rugby format in 2011, not only avoided the promotion-relegation repechage but leapfrogged perennial Junior 1A league winners Monivea to do so three years back. Monivea, having contested nearly every senior qualification tournament of the millennium, succumbed at home on Sunday to a dogged and more focused Boys Club complement who won 11-3 with a Dave Reilly try on fulltime. With it went the top junior club spot in this winter’s league (won by senior club Corinthians’ Second XV) and the chance to contest for AIL inclusion.

It was a different story with two rounds to play however, when Boys Club was one among eight clubs vying to steer clear of the Junior 1A-1B relegation playoff such was the points table bottleneck. A two point win over Castlebar and Sunday’s eight-point victory pushed them one table point clear of Monivea and into the national playoffs to meet Kanturk (Munster) this Saturday at the Sportsground on College Road.

The IRFU website as late as Tuesday evening listed only the “Connacht qualifier” alongside Kanturk, Clogher Valley (U) and Wanderers (L). 

Boys Club coach Ambrose Conboy seeks to make OLBC a household name not only in Ireland’s junior rugby circles but senior ones too.

Conboy, a senior rugby stalwart for several years himself, is under no illusions as to the difficulty ahead, but has the best defensive track record of this winter’s league behind him. The fact Boys Club remained in the hunt for the foremost junior table position throughout the winter despite securing the one bonus point stands them in good stead for three likely dogfights in the month coming.

“We leaked the fewest tries of anyone in Junior 1A, we finished top-three for points differential, and as far as points against us go we were the most miserly of all involved in the competition and were four points per game harder to score against than league winners Corinthians.

“If there’s one thing these lads know it’s how to make life tough for opposition points-scorers. That experience alone is going to prove crucial in March and April,” he said.

Our Lady’s Boys Club v Kanturk, Connacht Sportsground, Saturday March 22, 2:30pm

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