Two weeks on from the disappointment of their relegation, Galwegians have an opportunity to end the season on a high against double hunters Cork Constitution in a mouth-watering Bateman Cup final clash.
ULSTER BANK BATEMAN ALL-IRELAND CUP FINAL: Saturday, April 30
GALWEGIANS v CORK CONSTITUTION, Crowley Park, 12.45pm (live RTÉ 2/www.rte.ie/live (worldwide))
*Gate charge is €;10, children 16 and under free. Parking in club will fill up early. Please use GMIT or Renmore Church car parking as overflow. Professional catering available all day. Galwegians’ Bateman Cup information.
Ulster Bank League Form – Galwegians: WLLLL; Cork Constitution: WWWWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Galwegians: Points: Aidan Moynihan 69; Tries: Ed O’Keeffe 7; Cork Constitution: Points: Tomas Quinlan 170; Tries: Niall Kenneally 6
Ulster Bank League Season’s Record – Galwegians: 10th place finish (relegated), five wins; Cork Constitution: 2nd place finish (finalists), ten wins and two draws
This Season’s League Meetings – Saturday, September 12, 2015: Galwegians 12 Cork Constitution 11, Crowley Park; Saturday, April 16, 2016: Cork Constitution 26 Galwegians 16, Temple Hill
Did You Know?
1. Cork Constitution could become the first club to achieve a Bateman Cup four in-a-row, joining Lansdowne (winners in 1922, 1929, 1930 and 1931) at the top of the roll of honour
2. If Galwegians triumph on Saturday, they will be the first Connacht winners of either the All-Ireland Cup or Bateman Cup. The competitions were reintroduced in 2005 and 2011 respectively.
3. The Bateman Cup was presented to the IRFU by Kerry-born Dr. Godfrey Bateman in memory of his sons Reginald and Arthur, who both played rugby for Trinity College and were killed during the First World War.
The inscription on the cup says: ‘Presented by Godfrey Bateman to the Irish Rugby Football Union in ever-fresh and loving memory of his darling sons: Major Reginald John Godfrey Bateman, Canadian Infantry, killed in action September 3, 1918. Captain Arthur Cyril Bateman, who, on March 28, 1918, gave his life for his wounded Camerons’.
4. The competition was played annually between the four provincial cup winners on the last weekend of the season, with the exception of 1933 and 1934 when a number of the provincial cup campaigns had not been completed on time.
5. The Bateman Cup semi-finals used to be played as a double header at Lansdowne Road, with the final taking place at the same venue the very next day – ‘a real test of stamina’ according to a newspaper article from the 1920s. The tournament was finally terminated at the outbreak of the Second World War owing to the restriction on travel.
6. Garryowen Football Club ran a once-off Bateman Cup style competition in the spring of 1975, this in conjunction with the IRFU Centenary celebrations, the laurels eventually resting with St. Mary’s College. They were presented with a plaque rather than the Bateman Cup.
7. Since the IRFU reintroduced the Bateman Cup in 2011, Munster clubs have dominated the competition with Bruff (2011), Garryowen (2012) and current champions Cork Constitution (2013, 2014 and 2015) all winning it.
8. In the initial run of Bateman Cup finals between 1922 and 1939, Galwegians, who lost to Lansdowne in 1929, and UCG, who were beaten by UCC in 1936, were the only Connacht representatives to reach the decider.
Recent Bateman Cup Finals –
2011 – Bruff 24 Dungannon 18
2012 – Garryowen 24 Ballymena 6
2013 – Cork Constitution 24 St. Mary’s College 19 – Post-Match Video
2014 – Cork Constitution 19 UCD 6
2015 – Cork Constitution 24 Clontarf 9
Paths To The Final –
Connacht Senior Cup
– won 27-10 v Buccaneers (final at Crowley Park) (champions for the 33rd time)
Ulster Bank Bateman Cup semi-final
– won 35-31 v Ballynahinch (home)
Munster Senior Cup
– won 57-6 v Highfield (away)
– won 11-9 v Garryowen (home)
– won 30-22 v Nenagh Ormond (home)
– Final to be played at Thomond Park on Saturday, May 14
Ulster Bank Bateman Cup semi-final
– won 24-0 v UCD (away)
Preview: The Ulster Bank Bateman Cup final will see history made no matter who comes out on top on Saturday. Defending champions Cork Constitution are chasing a unique fourth title in-a-row, while hosts Galwegians are back at this stage for the first time since their 1929 defeat to Lansdowne.
The modern day revival of the Bateman Cup – a knockout competition for the four winners of the provincial cups – has put the famous All-Ireland event from the 1920s and 1930s back in the spotlight, and Cork Con have been its dominant force with three successive final wins against Leinster opposition – St. Mary’s in 2013 (24-19), UCD in 2014 (19-6) and Clontarf last year (24-9).
Galwegians have yet to grace the roll of honour, and no Connacht club has graced the final since UCG some 80 years ago. Of course, the current ‘Wegians have some unfinished business with Cork Con – they were relegated from Division 1A following a 26-16 loss to the Leesiders a fortnight ago.
The Galway side actually opened the current season with a 12-11 home win over Con – pacey young backs Cormac Brennan and Ed O’Keeffe scored a try apiece that day. Hosting the final in Glenina will give Matt Brown’s westerners extra motivation and securing national silverware would certainly be sweet for the likes of club stalwarts John ‘Luigi’ Cleary, Brian Murphy and Ja Naughton, especially after such a disappointing finish to the league.
Brian Hickey’s Corkmen are also in the midst of a run of big games, defending both their Munster Senior Cup and Bateman Cup crowns and also lining up against Clontarf in next week’s league decider at the Aviva Stadium.
Con’s springtime form suggests it will be very difficult for ‘Wegians to prize the trophy out of their grasp, especially if centre Niall Kenneally continues his fine form – he has bagged four tries in his last four outings.
‘Wegians are dangerous opponents in one-off games, though, and they did beat Con, Lansdowne, Ballynahinch, Young Munster and Garryowen at home this season. Will the ‘Crowley Park factor’ prove crucial, or can Con maintain their mantle as cup kingpins, adding to their Under-20s’ All-Ireland success from earlier this month?
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win
* The match is live on RTE Two Television on Saturday with analysis from Donal Lenihan and Gavin Duffy, and commentary by Hugh Cahill and Alan Quinlan.