Saturday’s AIB League Division One final will be an all-Munster affair as southern stalwarts of the club game, Cork Constitution and Garryowen, meet at Musgrave Park in Cork to battle for the overall title of AIB League champions. Kick-off is at 2.30pm.
The fixture marks the first AIB Cup winners’ head-to-head in a league final – Garryowen were crowned AIB Cup champions last month when they overcame Belfast Harlequins, while Cork Constitution enjoyed similar success in the inaugural cup competition last year when they triumphed over St. Mary’s College in the final.
Con and Garryowen are meeting for the first time since their AIB League fixture at Dooradoyle in early January. On that occasion, the Leesiders were victorious 12-11 in an incredibly close encounter.
Con have enjoyed great success all season, and secured top spot in the Division One table last month to finish as winners of the league phase. In doing so, they ensured a home semi-final last weekend, but they left it late to beat UL Bohemians at Temple Hill last Saturday. Trailing for most of the game, Brian Walsh’s men pulled through for a 21-18 success, following a late intercept try from winger Cronan Healy.
In securing top spot in the table this season, Con have brought to four the number of times they have finished first in the league table over the past seven seasons, but they have not won a league championship final since 1999.
Garryowen, coached by Paul Cunningham, will be just as eager to win on Saturday, as they travel to Cork on track for a unique AIB League and Cup double. Fresh from their victory in the AIB Cup last month, the Dooradoyle residents beat a strong Clontarf side 28-15 in their league semi-final last Saturday. Garryowen have performed steadily all season in the league, and finished in third place in the table.
Another added incentive for both clubs competing in the final on Saturday is the prospect of representing Ireland at the Languedoc-Roussillon amateur tournament, which will take place in France from September 3 to 15, during the Rugby World Cup.
The club that wins Saturday’s final will go forward to participate in the French tournament. The team will be sponsored by AIB, and all travel and participation costs for the tournament will be covered by the IRFU and AIB.
*** Tickets for Saturday’s Division One decider at Musgrave Park are priced at: Adult Stand (EUR10), Adult Ground (EUR7) and Child (EUR3) ***