The Ulster Bank Bateman Cup semi-finals take place this weekend with Ballymena, who were runners-up last year, hosting Cork Constitution and St. Mary’s College travelling to Galwegians.
ULSTER BANK BATEMAN CUP SEMI-FINALS: Saturday, January 19
BALLYMENA (10th, Div 1B) v CORK CONSTITUTION (4th, Div 1A), Eaton Park, 2pm
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Ballymena: LLLLLLWD; Cork Constitution: WLWWWLWL
Provincial Cup Runs – Ballymena (Ulster Senior Cup): Beat Banbridge 36-10; Beat Instonians 50-0; Beat City of Derry 19-12; Beat Rainey Old Boys 25-6 (final); Cork Constitution (Munster Senior Cup): Beat Dolphin 43-6; Beat Garryowen 16-6; Beat Cashel 26-15; Beat UL Bohemians 15-14 (final)
Preview: Cork Constitution certainly have an All-Ireland Cup pedigree behind them, with two national cup successes in 2006 and 2010, but their recent league form suggests that they are beatable.
Hosts Ballymena endured a terrible start to their Division 1B campaign with six straight losses. John Andrews’ men seemed to turn a corner in the last few weeks as they retained their Ulster Senior Cup crown and registered a win and draw in the league.
The Braidmen will also be determined to go one better than last year when they lost the Bateman Cup decider to Garryowen, a game in which Ireland hopeful Luke Marshall starred for the runners-up.
Although Cork Con will be missing the likes of Ivan Dineen, Ian Nagle and John Ryan due to provincial action this weekend, and Johnny Holland is nursing a groin strain, Brian Walsh’s side should have enough quality to set up a shot at silverware in April.
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win by 6-10 points
GALWEGIANS (7th, Div 2A) v ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (8th, Div 1A), Crowley Park, 2pm
Ulster Bank League Season’s Form – Galwegians: LWLLWWW; St. Mary’s College: WLLLLWLW
Provincial Cup Runs – Galwegians (Connacht Senior Cup): Beat Buccaneers 11-5; Beat Sligo (walkover); Beat Corinthians 31-15 (final); St. Mary’s College (Leinster Senior Cup): Beat Lansdowne 27-5; Drew 14-14 with UCD; Beat Bective Rangers 55-8; Beat Terenure College 18-9; Beat Dublin University 23-13; Beat Lansdowne 32-20 (final)
Preview: Both of these clubs have had a difficult time of it in the Ulster Bank League this season, although Galwegians have boosted their Division 2A hopes with a trio of pre-Christmas wins over Corinthians, DLSP and City of Derry.
They also regained the Connacht Senior Cup by coming from behind against Corinthians at Crowley Park, a venue at which the Blues are particularly difficult to beat.
Coached by Colm Rigney, ‘Wegians boast some fine players, Tadhg Leader, Brian Murphy and Eoin Rooney among them, and they will relish this shot at a top flight club like St. Mary’s College.
St. Mary’s have surprisingly been unable to get their title defence off the ground in Division 1A, struggling near the foot of the table for the most part.
But a recent upturn in form, including their 16-3 derby victory over Clontarf last time out, suggests that Hugh Hogan’s charges are on the comeback trail.
Former Galwegians and Connacht winger Darragh Fanning is among their danger men and their Leinster Senior Cup run shows how capable they are in the knockout format.
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: St. Mary’s College to win by 1-5 points
The All-Ireland Cup competition returned to its roots for the 2010/11 season with the reintroduction of the Bateman Cup, ending with Bruff beating Dungannon in the decider. Garryowen kept the trophy in Limerick last April with a final win over Ballymena.
The Bateman Cup was first contested in 1922 when it was donated by Robert Bateman. Lansdowne were the winners of the inaugural trophy.
The 2012/13 Ulster Bank Bateman Cup final has been scheduled for the weekend of April 27-28.
(i) If teams are tied at full-time, extra-time of 10 minutes each way will be played
(ii) If still tied, the team that has scored the most tries will be the winners
(iii) If still tied, the away team will be declared the winners
Rolling substitutions will be used as per the Ulster Bank League regulations
All-Ireland Cup Champions’ Roll Of Honour:
2011/12 – Garryowen
2010/11 – Bruff
2009/10 – Cork Constitution
2008/09 – Ballynahinch
2007/08 – Shannon
2006/07 – Garryowen
2005/06 – Cork Constitution