Here we go again. Another AIL campaign got under way at the weekend which, at its end, will undergo yet more restructuring and, with any luck, may have even managed to find a new sponsor.
Regardless of the baggage, Ulster clubs gained a reasonable dividend from their first outings with four from six enjoying opening day wins with bonus points galore.
Dungannon, standing alone as the only Ulster club in Division 1b, were one of the two clubs over both divisions to suffer defeats but Justin Fitzpatrick’s squad fell just short at UCC losing 33-29, yet still managing to bag themselves two valuable losing bonus points.
Two tries from Craig Gilroy, along with a penalty try, were added to in the final play of the game when Conor Gaston touched down to win the bonus points for his side.
In Division Two, Belfast Harlequins made light of their patchy form in the Ulster Senior League with a bonus point win over Thomond at Deramore who were sent home to Limerick on the back of a 31-7 thumping.
However, the win was only secured in the last eight minutes when an earlier Neil McComb try and three Michael Heaney penalties were finally added to by a late flurry of points thanks to tries from Mark McGrath, Matthew Holmes and Niall Annett.
Elsewhere, Malone also manufactured a bonus point win when they saw off Old Wesley 39-3 in Dublin with Ulster player Paul Emerick crossing the line for a hat-trick of tries on his first outing with the club alongside a solitary effort from Michael Barker.
In Galway, Ballynahinch also got maximum points when they annihilated Corinthians 40-16 with Ulster player Adam D’Arcy grabbing two of ’Hinch’s five try total on his club debut.
Ballymena also experienced that winning feeling with John Andrews’ squad grafting out a 26-16 win at Midleton which also saw them come away with a bonus point after Tommy Seymour, Luke Marshall, Andrew Kerr and Chis Smyth scored tries.
Queen’s University were in Dublin but their first game after promotion from Division Three ended in defeat when Dublin University took the points after prevailing 30-10.