12 Dec, 14:42
Prop Cian Healy is expected to miss the start of the 2014 RBS 6 Nations after undergoing surgery on his injured ankle on Wednesday.
BRUFF v DUNGANNON, Templeville Road, 2pm
Paths To The Final -
Munster Senior Cup
- won 21-14 v Shannon
- won 11-5 v Cork Constitution
- walkover (v Highfield)
- won 23-19 v Garryowen (final)
Bateman All-Ireland Cup semi-final
- won 24-22 v UCD
Ulster Senior Cup
- won 25-5 v Belfast Harlequins
- won 25-18 v Ballymena
- won 50-20 v Malone
- won 25-0 v City of Derry (final)
Bateman All-Ireland Cup semi-final
- won 16-13 (aet) v Corinthians
Preview: If the Bateman All-Ireland Cup decider generates anything like the same excitement of some of Bruff and Dungannon's earlier matches, it should be well worth watching.
The fact that the final will feature two teams from outside Division 1A of the Ulster Bank League demonstrates just how open the competition has been.
There was no real surprise that Dungannon won the Ulster Senior Cup. But Bruff, UCD and Corinthians have beaten quite a few of the big guns to capture respective provincial trophies.
Bruff, for instance, overcame Shannon 21-14, Cork Constitution 11-5 and Garryowen 23-19 in the final to win the
Munster Senior Cup. Not bad for a side that only gained senior status in 2004.
They also had a difficult task on their hands against the Leinster winners UCD in the All-Ireland Cup semi-final. The
students, after all, had beaten Clontarf, Blackrock College and St. Mary's College on their way to securing the Leinster Senior Cup.
Bruff found out just how hard UCD are to beat back in late January. In fact, the students seemed well on their way to winning the Kilballyowen Park encounter when they led 22-7 after 55 minutes.
But that was not taking into account Bruff's fighting qualities. They battled back with their pack putting UCD under real pressure.
That pressure told with two late tries from flanker John Shine. Tony Cahill, having taken over the kicking duties from his injured brother Brian, landed the conversion to see Bruff home by 24-22.
Unfortunately, things have not always gone so well for the Limerick outfit in Division 1B of the Ulster Bank League.
They are due to face a relegation/promotion play-off match against the fifth-placed side in Division 2 after
finishing bottom of the table.
But that does not tell the full story. The reality is that Bruff won six out of their 14 games, only a slightly worse record than the promoted second-placed Lansdowne team who won seven and lost seven.
Bruff's 17-11 victory last weekend over the Division 1B winners Clontarf showed what they are capable of but with Galwegians and UCC also winning, it counted for little.
Still, they can finish their season on high note if they can beat Dungannon on Saturday and win that relegation/promotion play-off game.
Dungannon, however, are well capable of upsetting their plans. Like Bruff, they had to show their character in overcoming Corinthians 16-13 after extra time in their semi-final.
Previously, Dungannon had won the Ulster Senior Cup in some style with victories over Belfast Harlequins, Ballymena, Malone and a 25-0 success over City of Derry in the final.
Some of their more promising younger players such as Craig Gilroy and Paddy Jackson have gone on to make an impact for Ulster this season. They had to do without these when they faced Connacht Cup holders Corinthians in a rearranged semi-final.
Corinthians needed to be respected after beating Buccaneers and Galwegians to secure the Connacht Senior Cup.
And it proved to be a very tough match, played in testing conditions, with Corinthians leading 13-3 at one point.
But the Justin Fitzpatrick-coached Dungannon team came good to draw level in the closing stages. Scrum half Kieran Campbell combined with another Ulster player, Ryan Caldwell, to enable the highly-rated Chris Cochrane get over for an all-important try.
Michael Lawton's conversion sent the game into extra-time and the same player then landed a penalty to give Dungannon their 16-13 success.
So, both semi-finals involving the provincial winners went down to the wire. So could Saturday's encounter, if you are to judge by the two meetings between Bruff and Dungannon in the Ulster Bank League.
Back in late November, Bruff won their first meeting 21-10 at Kilballyowen Park, but Dungannon gained their revenge with a 21-8 victory at Stevenson Park in late February.
Eventually, Dungannon won one more match than Bruff to finish three places ahead of them in the table, but, on all of the evidence, there is precious little between these two sides.
All-Ireland Cup Champions' Roll Of Honour:
2009/10 - Cork Constitution
2008/09 - Ballynahinch
2007/08 - Shannon
2006/07 - Garryowen
2005/06 - Cork Constitution
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