THE ENGLISH PREMIERSHIP played out its final regular season round last weekend, ahead of the semi-finals this week, while the Championship was already down to the last four on Saturday and Sunday.
There was Irish involvement in both leagues, and here’s how those players got on.
Peter Stringer was heavily involved as Bath were pipped to a play-off spot due to a nail-biting 19-16 defeat to Harlequins. Conor O’Shea’s side claimed fourth spot at Bath’s expense thanks to the kicking of Nick Evans and a Mike Brown try.
36-year-old Stringer, who will play on next season at Bath, didn’t start the game, but was used as a blood sub for Micky Young in the first half, and then replaced the number nine with half an hour remaining.
The consolation for this defeat is that Mike Ford’s side will be part of the Rugby Champions Cup next season.
Niall Morris played 80 minutes on the right wing for Leicester in their four-try 31-27 victory over Saracens at Welford Road. The former Leinster man now has a semi-final to look forward to, with the Tigers away to Northampton on Friday evening.
In Saracens’ second row was Eoin Sheriff, also an ex-Leinster player, who played the entire game. This was the 25-year-old Gorey man’s fifth Premiership appearance of an impressive season.
Sarries are at home to Harlequins in the second semi-final on Saturday.
Centre Fergus Mulchrone and scrum-half Tomás O’Leary played all 80 minutes for London Irish in a 22-20 success over Sale, which sees the Exiles finish their season 10th in the league.
Jamie Hagan appeared off the bench with 29 minutes remaining, with the Irish international having been restricted to six starts in the Premiership this season. An unfortunate ankle injury at the very start of the campaign saw Leo Halavatau claim first-choice status at tighthead prop.
In Sale’s starting team was Charlie Ingall, a former Ireland Exiles and U20 cap. The 6ft 3ins London-born wing has made five Premiership starts this season, scoring one try, and has had previous spells at Wasps and Esher.
Exeter Chief’s 23-13 win away to Newcastle saw them finish the campaign in eighth position, with Ian Whitten wearing the 13 shirt. The Ulsterman has made 25 starts in all competitions in a strong season.
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Gareth Steenson was used off the bench for the closing 15 minutes or so, but could not add to his individual points haul of 191 for the season.
Ireland U20 cap George McGuigan was a replacement for Newcastle, with the hooker completing 33 minutes of action in what was his 18th Premiership appearance of the campaign. McGuigan agreed to a new two-year deal with the Falcons back in February.
In Newcastle’s second-row was Ian Nagle, making his first Premiership start since joining the club on loan from Munster in February. The 25-year-old also played 12 minutes off the bench against Saracens last month.
It has already been announced that Nagle will end his time contracted to Munster this summer.
Shane Monahan, fresh from a hat-trick last weekend, was among the try-scorers in Gloucester’s 28-27 defeat to Worcester. The imposing wing, formerly with Leinster and Connacht, made three starts in this injury-hit season. Gloucester finished up in ninth position, with Director of Rugby Nigel Davies having since left the club.
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Sean Scanlon, Charlie Mulchrone and Michael Keating all started as the Rotherham Titans were beaten 17-14 in the first leg of their Championship semi-final against Bristol.
The three-point margin means all three former Ireland underage internationals will be hopeful of overturning that deficit in winning at home next weekend.
Titans’ captain Mulchrone has agreed to join Worcester next season, but both fullback Scanlon and wing Keating have signed on to stay at Clifton Lane until the summer of 2015 at least.
At outside centre for Bristol was Jack Tovey, who is English-born but, we are reliably informed, is qualified to play for Ireland. The 23-year-old has made six Championship starts during the current campaign.
In the highly entertaining second semi-final, London Welsh went down 38-31 away to Leeds Carnegie, with Daniel Browne and Peter Browne both involved.
The former started the game at blindside flanker, the 35-year-old’s 20th appearance of the season. Peter, a 26-year-old lock formerly with ‘Quins and Newcastle, played the closing minutes off the bench.
There was also a substitute appearance for John Quill, once an Ireland international at Schools level, but since capped seven times for the US. The 24-year-old Cork native has played six times for London Welsh since joining in February.
Did we miss any Irish-qualified players who were in action in England over the weekend? If so, leave us a comment below…