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Energia AIL Returns
AIL captains looking forward to the new season
PICTURE: AIL captains looking forward to the new season
OCTOBER 18 2023
The Energia AIL season returns with big plans on the horizon.
The eagerly anticipated opening weekends of the Energia All-Ireland League have come and gone, leaving rugby enthusiasts across the nation buzzing with excitement. The Rugby World Cup may be centre stage, but Saturday afternoons have seen communities come together in their clubs to think of this season’s possibilities. With 59 teams from all corners of Ireland competing across the men’s and women’s divisions, fans were treated to a number of spectacular encounters in the opening rounds. In this article, we'll recap the highlights of the opening weekends, showcasing the fierce competition and the promising talents that make this league a must watch for rugby aficionados. 

Division 1A - A Clash of Titans 
The top tier of the Energia All-Ireland League, Division 1A, witnessed some nail-biting encounters that lived up to the hype. Defending champions, Terenure, faced stiff competition from Ballynahinch, who narrowly edged out the Ballymacarn side with a 16-13 victory. This thrilling match set the tone for an action-packed weekend, with Terenure aiming to win back-to-back titles for the first time since Shannon in the mid 2000’s. 
Meanwhile, in the second #EnergiaAIL Live Irish Rugby TV Stream of the season, Cork Constitution were brought the distance by Division 1A newcomers City of Armagh in a highly entertaining encounter. The Temple Hill men emerged victorious with a 28-21 win with stellar performances from several individuals on both sides. Clontarf, Lansdowne and Shannon also got off to a winning start on the opening weekend and will look to add momentum as the league takes shape in the coming weeks.  

Division 1B – New Kids on the Block 
In Division 1B, it was an up-and-coming team that showed their mettle, promising an exciting season ahead. Blackrock made a strong statement with a dominating performance against UCC, securing a 20-31 victory on the road. Old Wesley and St.Mary’s also made their presence felt with convincing wins over Queens and Buccaneers, respectively. 
One of the standout matches of the opening weekend was Naas’ impressive victory over Old Belvedere. In a hard-fought battle, the Forenaughts side triumphed with a final score of 18-20, sending a clear message that they are playoff contenders this season. 

Division 2A and Beyond – Statements of intent
The lower divisions also provided their fair share of thrills as clubs showcased their emerging talents. In Division 2A, Nenagh laid down a marker against UL Bohemians in New Ormond Park, winning 29-15 in their bid for promotion. Greystones continued their fine form as champions with a win on the road in Gibson Park against Malone. The Dr. Hickey Park side on the crest of a wave and look right at home in Division 2A. 
Division 2B featured several high scoring encounters with Instonians and Dungannon breaking the 40-point mark in their respective victories. In Division 2C, Enniscorthy, Bruff and Galwegians all impressed with their opening weekend performances, but the plaudits must go to Clogher Valley who recorded their first senior win as a club at the first time of asking in only their 33-year history.  

Energia AIL Women’s Division. 
The opening day of the women’s division in mid-September saw the champions’ Blackrock College clash with Old Belvedere in the first Energia AIL Live Irish Rugby Stream. The Stradbrook side emerged victorious 22-17, but Belvo will take heart in the performance. There were wins for UL Bohemians & Railway Union, with Wicklow and Galwegians showing improvement week on week. 

As the season progresses, we can expect more intense rivalries, breathtaking tries, and unforgettable moments. Whether you support a top-tier team or a rising star in the lower divisions, the Energia All-Ireland League promises to deliver excitement, drama, and unforgettable rugby throughout the season. 
So, mark your calendars (even with the Rugby World Cup!) and get ready for an incredible journey through Irish club rugby, as the Energia All-Ireland League continues to captivate fans and showcase the talent that makes rugby a beloved sport in Ireland. Stay tuned for more updates, and listen into the Club Scene Podcast powered by Energia for regular news, views and interviews on all things Energia AIL.