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Wanderers Looking To Double Up

Wanderers Looking To Double Up

Promoted Wanderers are bidding to win the Division Three title for the second time in five seasons, while Bruff could cap off their season by keeping the trophy in Munster and following up on Clonakilty’s success of twelve months ago.

AIB LEAGUE DIVISION THREE FINAL: Saturday, April 28

WANDERERS v BRUFF, Templeville Road, St. Mary’s College RFC, 2pm

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After fifth consecutive seasons in the third tier, Wanderers have garnered promotion by topping the table and continued their progression with a handsome 47-29 semi-final win over Instonians at Merrion Road last weekend.

Out-half Billy Tracey collected 32 points against ‘Inst and he is sure to be a key figure again at Templeville Road this afternoon. There have been big performances from ball-carrying back rowers Pom Simone and Kolo Kiripati this season, who have caught the eye with six tries apiece during the league run.

Coach Andrew Spraggon, who arrived in the summer from Auckland University, has instilled plenty of belief in the capital side. Their one league defeat was back in October, away to Rainey Old Boys, and since then they have swept aside all-comers.

Intriguingly, there is a Limerick influence in the Wanderers’ set-up, with hooker and captain Bevan Cantrell a major recruiter for the club in the Treaty city area.

Former Young Munster player Cantrell, who skippered Wanderers to Division Three glory in 2003, will face plenty of his county men on Saturday afternoon, as will Tracey, winger Daithi Fitzgerald, centre Ronan Likely and lock Paul Ryan, who all hail from Limerick. Bruff’s top try scorer Finbarr Hogan also spent time in Division One with Young Munster.

Bruff travelled to Merrion Road in December to play the regulation phase game between the sides, with Wanderers emerging as 24-10 victors thanks to tries from Kiripati, full-back Damien Hunt and centre Jim Ferris.

Saturday is an historic day for the club of Bruff as they compete in an AIB League championship final for the first time in their 38-year history.

The Kilballyowen Park residents have become well accustomed to success at Junior level, with 2004 seeing them win the AIB League’s round robin series, the Munster Junior League Division One and Junior Challenge Cup titles, as well as the Munster Junior 2 League, Gleeson League and McInerney Cup.

Although promotion evaded them again this year, Bruff are getting closer to Division Two rugby with every passing season, and have been helped by the return to the club of centre Eoin Cahill, who won three Division One championships with Shannon.

Cahill, who assists head coach Eugene Murnane, has two brothers on the current team, half-backs Brian and Tony – they are all sons of the club’s former captain and underage coaching king Michael.

There are also three Carroll brothers in the Bruff squad, namely centre John, out-half Brian and number eight Michael, who are sons of the late Brendan, who was club captain in 1976 and later a youth officer.

With the likes of Tom Hayes, Stephen Keogh and long-time Ireland prop John Hayes having come up through the Bruff underage system, the Limerick side have certainly made a rich contribution to Munster and Irish rugby.

Recent wins over City of Derry, Sunday’s Well and Connemara and an outstanding 29-3 defeat of long-time league leaders Ballynahinch in last weekend’s semi-final, with Tony Cahill bagging a hat-trick of tries, mean Bruff have every chance of surprising the table-toppers this weekend.

This one is hard to call, but one thing you can expect at Templeville Road is tries. Wanderers finished out the league phase with the best tries differential (+40) across all three divisions, while Bruff have scored a very impressive 151 points in their last four league outings.

IrishRugby.ie verdict: Wanderers to win