19 May, 11:13
There are six uncapped players in the Ireland squad for the summer tour to North America that was named this morning. An Emerging Ireland squad has also been selected for the Tblisi Cup in Georgia.
There could be no faltering a sterling performance from this Bruff side. They played with huge intensity all the way to the end of a hard-fought tussle, staving off a hearty comeback from Dungannon.
Dungannon, who executed some thrilling passages of play, put in a courageous effort to make it a memorable day for the return of the Bateman Cup final.
Away from the celebrations, Bruff player-coach Peter Malone spoke emphatically about what the victory meant to the proud Limerick club.
"To beat a club like Dungannon, a club with a great history who have won the All-Ireland League and to stand toe to toe with them is a great mark for ourselves," he said.
"It's a great bunch of guys with a great club structure behind us so hopefully it's just reward.
"A lot of these guys have been with us since junior level so they've come full circle from junior to senior All-Ireland champions. It's a great reward for them."
After winning the Munster Junior League in 2004, Bruff have gone from strength to strength in the All-Ireland League, winning the Division 3 title in 2007 and gaining promotion to Division 1B last season.
But victory in the Bateman Cup comes as a milestone achievement for the men from Kilballyowen Park.
Bruff started the final at lightning pace with prop David Horan scoring a try and out-half Tony Cahill slotting a penalty within five minutes.
Dungannon plugged away and eventually broke their opponents down with a well-worked try from centre and captain Paul Magee.
Starting the second half with an 11-10 advantage, Bruff again pulled away from their opponents when experienced back rower Malone stole in for a try after a turnover scrum and this was followed by another Cahill penalty.
This left Dungannon trailing by 11 points and although lively full-back Conor Gaston scored a superb try, Bruff did well to hold onto their lead until the end.
Commenting on his own try, Malone said: "It wasn't the most glamorous one but it was important though.
"When we started the second half we said we needed to keep the ball in tight - we were kicking a lot away in the first half and Dungannon were running riot.
"So we kept it tight, we got the reward and we squeezed them a bit in the second half. We tried to keep the ball from them as much as we could and we got our reward today."
To claim the Bateman Cup for the first time could not be a more deserved reward for Bruff, as they had to topple Division 1A heavyweights Cork Constitution, Shannon and Garryowen to secure the Munster Senior Cup on route to the final.
On top of that, they came from 22-7 down in their semi-final against Leinster Senior Cup winners UCD to clinch a 24-22 victory.
Explaining that cup rugby is something of a speciality for Bruff, Malone added: "It was an epic cup run, we have no problem getting up for cup rugby - going back to the Munster Junior Cup, that was our bread and butter.
"So with cup games it's so easy to motivate guys. It's our league form that's been the problem this year but cup days like this there's never a problem, we love taking big scalps.
"But we shouldn't be seeing these games as big scalps anymore, we're a senior Division 1B club so we should regard these guys as equals. There's never a problem getting up for a club game in Bruff."
Out-half Tony Cahill, who slotted 14 points for the Limerick side, was a deserved winner of the man-of-the-match accolade, yet the player himself preferred to credit the victory as a team performance.
"I don't feel I was man-of-the-match out of that, there were 14 other lads out there who played mighty," he said afterwards.
"It went down to the wire as for usual but they're an unreal bunch of lads, they keep going right until the end and I think that's what got us through today."
Cahill, who scored the winning conversion in the semi-final against UCD, conceded that Bruff have another big challenge now - they have to win a promotion/relegation play-off match against the fifth-placed team in Division 2 to retain their place in Division 1B.
"Hopefully this win will allow us to get through our play-off game in three weeks. We'll celebrate the win for a few days but we'll have to regroup after that because I think staying in the division is most important for us."
For Dungannon director of rugby Justin Fitzpatrick, the defeat was a huge blow but the former Ulster and Ireland prop had little complaints with his team as they produced a valiant effort.
"I'm very proud of all of our players but it just wasn't our day and I'm disappointed, but full credit to Bruff. They came here with a very precise game plan and they executed it very well," he said.
"I think it was quite an entertaining game for the spectators. Even in the dying moments there were opportunities to win the game, but we didn't take them and Bruff are very good at what they do."
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