The Shaw’s Bridge club regained their senior status with a 25-21 victory over Bective Rangers in the round-robin play-off final at Dundalk.
Since becoming a junior club in 2014, Instonians had reached the round-robin stage three times but failed to gain promotion on each occasion.
Director of Rugby Clem Boyd felt the victory over Bective was an accumulation of three years’ hard work.
“This was our fourth time in the play-offs in eight years and we have finally done it,” enthused Boyd. “When we failed to get promoted in 2019 the club wasn’t in a good place, Covid was actually good for us because it allowed us to rebuild the club and the people within the club, the coaches and the first, second and third teams and rebuilt the Academy squad with Scott Henley and Stephen Lamb.
“It has been a great year for us, the junior section got to the 3rd XV final, the U18s got to the final of their cup and won that on Saturday.
“We have over 50 new players at U14s and U12s this year, the future is looking good but it was important the 1st XV won.”
In previous years, the four provincial league winners played each other to determine who was promoted. This year it was changed to semi-finals and a final.
“I think that may have helped us, but we were scheduled to have two home games which would have been good,” he said. “In the league we had 18 games and were undefeated the whole way through...we had a Covid situation with CIYMS but in a Covid application we were awarded a draw.
“Out of the 17 games we played we got 16 bonus point wins.”
Clogher pushed Inst all the way, with the league only being decided when the two met on the final day.
“We finished on 86 points, Clogher finished on 80...which would be enough to get into the play-offs any other year and shows the calibre of that Clogher team,” he said. “They are exceptional and I have no doubt next year they will win that league.”
Boyd is already preparing for life in the AIL Division 2C.
“This time of year with recruitment you don’t even get to speak to players because not being in the AIL is a barrier,” he said. “It opens up all sorts of doors for players coming to us with All Ireland experience coming to us next year.”
Boyd hailed the impact of his coaches - former Ulster full back Louis Ludik and Paul Pritchard.
“Louis has been exceptional he has been a very calming influence, he is young in his coaching years but his experience and knowledge of the game makes him an absolute natural,” said Boyd. “He has a very good way of delivering his message and coaching points across and is very good at reading the players.
“He has been a great acquisition for us.
“Louis has worked very well with Paul Pritchard, who in the second part of the season got himself back playing and he was exceptional on the pitch for us.
“He was an absolute leader for us in those tight games during the last month of the season.
“Captain Alan Whitten has made a great contribution all season, as has out half Richard McCarthy.”