From now until next May 2005, 48 clubs from over Ireland will contest more than 360 AIB League games, culminating in the AIB League Finals on Saturday 7th May, at Lansdowne Road.
Earlier this year, AIB confirmed that it would be extending its sponsorship of the AIB League for a further season. Speaking at the photoshoot to launch the AIB League season 2004/2005, John Hickey, General Manager AIB Bank stated that, "This is the eighth season of our involvement with club rugby. This year will be one of transition for the clubs, but we are as committed to the club rugby scene as ever.
Our sponsorship focus has always been at community level, be it with rugby, GAA or golf. We will continue to support the AIB League at the same level as previous years, but this season we are shifting the focus of our sponsorship to more direct financial support for the clubs."
Barry Keogh, President, IRFU added that, "For the coming season, the IRFU and AIB will be focusing their support to develop and promote the club game at a more localised level. All the financial support will be going directly to the clubs from AIB, and I am sure this format will be a huge success. The AIB League continues to provide the high point of the club season across all divisions, and I am delighted that AIB are continuing to sponsor the league. They are wonderful supporters of the club game and Irish rugby in general."
Division One champions, Shannon open their season at home against Blackrock College, whilst last year's defeated finalists, Cork Constitution, will travel to Athlone to face Buccaneers. Newly promoted Dublin University will be eager to make their mark from the outset when they travel to Crowley Park for their opening fixture against Galwegians.*
In Division Two, Barnhall have a home fixture against UL Bohemians, whilst other interesting fixtures on the first Saturday include Malone against Terenure Collge, and Bective Rangers against Waterpark. In Cork, Midleton will play host to DLSP.
Division Three will kick off with newly promoted Bruff playing host to Clonakilty. Connemara will take on Queens University, whilst 2003/2004 champions, Greystones will line out in Dr. Hickey Park against Skerries.
AIB League Fixtures
Saturday 16 October
AIB League Division 1
Ballymena v Clontarf Belfast Harlequins v Dungannon Buccaneers v Cork Constitution Co. Carlow v Garryowen U.C.D. v Lansdowne
Sunday 17 October
Galwegians v Dublin University Shannon v Blackrock College
AIB League Division 2
Barnhall v U.L. Bohemian Bective Rangers v Waterpark Highfield v Thomond Malone v Terenure College Midleton v D.L.S.P. Old Belvedere v Ballynahinch Old Crescent v St. Mary's College Young Munster v Dolphin U.C.C. (Free)
AIB League Divison 3
Ballina v Old Wesley Banbridge v Wanderers Bruff v Clonakilty Connemara v Queens University Corinthians v Portadown Greystones v Skerries Instonians v City of Derry Sunday's Well v Suttonians Ards (FREE)