Seapoint face senior battle
The target for most junior clubs is to achieve senior status and four clubs start on that journey this weekend with the kick-off of the AIL round robin play-offs. The Junior League winners from each province: Seapoint (Leinster), Monivea (Connacht), Richmond (Munster) and Armagh or City of Derry (Ulster) will contest for a spot in AIL Division 3 next year.
Seapoint face a difficult path to their goal having to travel to both Ulster and Connacht in the round robin but will be up for the challenge having come close six years ago in their only other appearance in the round robin. They will be trying to emulate the feats of Navan last year and Naas in 2007.
They maintained an unbeaten (13 wins, 1 draw) run in their Leinster League Division campaign and did so on the back of a couple of tight victories, especially away from home, and this will stand them in good stead over the next three weeks.
Coached by Nigel Osborne and Declan Keegan, the team is led by Des Doyle and back boned with a combination of experience (ex-AIL players) and youthful talent emanating from the CBC Monkstown team of a couple of years ago.
A lot of the current first team squad have previously played youth and mini rugby for the club. The squad (with a few exceptions) is drawn mainly from schools in the area: CBC Monkstown; Pres Glasthule; Newpark; St Andrew's; and St Michael's. It also includes players with representative honours -- Ireland Schools, Ireland U20 and Leinster Juniors.
The team has only lost three games this season so far: City of Derry (AIB Junior Cup); Old Belvedere (Leinster Senior Cup); and last weekend's reversal against Lansdowne (Metro Cup).
They have already qualified for the Spencer Cup final against Monkstown. They will hope to maintain this good form in the round robin where they expect their toughest challenge yet.
In many commentators' opinions, the Ulster champions are regarded as the pre-competition favourites but it is expected that this round robin will contain four teams with not much to choose between them -- so an interesting three weeks awaits.
This year represents Seapoint's 75th anniversary and promotion to the AIL would represent a great way to celebrate the perfect end to what has already been a great season. It would also represent the club's greatest achievement to date.
27th March v City of Derry or Armagh (away)
10th April v Richmond (home)
17th April v Monivea (away)