MU Barnhall enjoy a team huddle after their win over Sligo

AIL DIvision 2B
Sligo 11
MU Barnhall 22

MU Barnhall confirmed they will be playing their rugby in AIL Division 2A next season as they blitzed 2B, making it 16 wins from 16 as they stormed Strandhill to beat Sligo last Saturday.

It put them out of reach of the chasers with two matches to go and the Blue Bulls’ Peter Black told the Dublin Gazette it has been a special season for the club.

“Promotion was the aim from the start of the season,” Black said. “The emergence of the scholarship programme with Maynooth University has helped us bring in a lot of highly talented senior schools players from around the country to play for the Under-20s and then get their chance in AIL.

“Eight players from the Under-20s played for the senior team this season and a lot are staying on at the club rather than going elsewhere. The senior squad is firsts, seconds and Under-20s players training together, learning the same calls week in week out so any one of them can slot into the team seamlessly.”

In perfect rugby weather, Sligo, still needing a win to confirm their place in the playoffs were soon in front. Unable to break through the Barnhall defence they won a penalty and smartly converted rather than kicking to the corner to take a 3-0 lead.

Defence was proving the key to both teams as Barnhall struggled to break down the home team initially but a scrum eventually leading to a penalty which Adam Chester converted to level.

Star man Mikey Mellett went to the sin bin and Sligo soon re-took the lead thanks to another penalty from Mark Butler. The game turned after the half time break, however.

The away side kicked off and quickly broke the line. Full back Eoghan Quinn went over to put Barnhall into the lead for the first time. This opened the floodgates as they quickly stretched their lead to nine, captain Tom McKeown crossing the white line and Chester converting to put the Blue Bulls 15-6 ahead.

Mellett showed his worth when he intercepted a pass to race clear and score Barnhall’s third try.

It was a battle throughout in Strandhill and the game was beginning to take its toll on both sides. A yellow card for Robbie Holt was quickly followed up by a try for Sligo, largely thanks to sloppiness from a tiring Barnhall defence but a deserved consolation for the home team, the final score in Sligo, 22-11.

And Black is confident his side will enjoy life in the third tier next season,

“The Under-20s playing in the top division will help bolster recruitment for next year and playing in 2A will attract a higher calibre of player also. So next year it won’t just be competing but being up and around promotion”.

The future is looking bright for Barnhall, as the stars appear to align in their 50th anniversary season.