First-time finalists Old Belvedere have the honour of hosting the Ulster Bank Bateman Cup decider – so can ‘Belvo bounce back from relegation to end their season with a national trophy, or will Cork Constitution continue their dominance of the prestigious competition with a fifth title in-a-row?
ULSTER BANK BATEMAN ALL-IRELAND CUP FINAL: Saturday, April 29
OLD BELVEDERE v CORK CONSTITUTION, Anglesea Road, 12.45pm (live RTÉ 2/www.rte.ie/live (worldwide))
* Tickets will be available to purchase for ground entry only – €;10 per ticket at the gate on the day. Under-16s are free
Ulster Bank League Form – Old Belvedere: LLDLL; Cork Constitution: WWLWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Old Belvedere: Points: Willie Staunton 84; Tries: Daniel Riordan 5; Cork Constitution: Points: Tomas Quinlan 180; Tries: Conor Kindregan 6
Ulster Bank League Season’s Record – Old Belvedere: 10th place finish (relegated), 5 wins; Cork Constitution: 4th place finish (finalists), 13 wins
This Season’s League Meetings – Saturday, October 29, 2016: Old Belvedere 14 Cork Constitution 20, Anglesea Road; Saturday, March 4, 2017: Cork Constitution 16 Old Belvedere 10, Temple Hill
Did You Know?
1. Cork Constitution could become the first club to achieve a Bateman Cup five in-a-row. They joined Lansdowne (winners in 1922, 1929, 1930 and 1931) at the top of the roll of honour when beating Galwegians 38-19 in the 2016 decider.
2. If Old Belvedere triumph today, they will be the first Leinster winners of either the All-Ireland Cup or Bateman Cup since Blackrock College were champions way back in the 1938/39 season. 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, 2015 and 2016) all winning it.
8. In the initial run of Bateman Cup finals between 1922 and 1939, Dublin clubs regularly lifted the trophy with Lansdowne, Bective Rangers, Dublin University, UCD and Blackrock College all producing title-winning sides.
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
2016 – Cork Constitution 38 Galwegians 19
Paths To The Final –
Leinster Senior League
– won 18-16 v Old Wesley (away)
– won 16-11 v Terenure College (home)
– won 19-10 v UCD (home)
– won 16-13 v Lansdowne (final at Aviva Stadium back pitch)
Ulster Bank Bateman Cup semi-final
– won 44-14 v Ballynahinch (home)
Munster Senior Cup
– won 27-6 v UL Bohemians (away)
– won 57-10 v Nenagh Ormond (home)
– won 31-15 v Highfield (home)
– won 14-0 v Young Munster (final at Irish Independent Park)
Ulster Bank Bateman Cup semi-final
– won 63-0 v Buccaneers (home)
Preview: Two clubs which finished at opposite ends of Ulster Bank League Division 1A will contest the Bateman Cup final, with Cork Constitution looking to lift the trophy for an incredible fifth year in-a-row.
Constitution are very much the Bateman Cup kingpins, beating St. Mary’s College (24-19), UCD (19-6), Clontarf (24-9) and Galwegians (38-19) in the last four finals, two of them away from home. They have won their last nine matches in the competition and will also return to the capital for next week’s Ulster Bank League decider against Clontarf.
2016 saw the RTE cameras capture two of the most entertaining and high-quality domestic club matches for some time – and Cork Con were involved in both of them. Man-of-the-match Ryan Foley scored two tries in their Bateman Cup final success at Galwegians, but there was league final heartbreak a week later at the Aviva Stadium where ‘Tarf won a thriller by three points.
Like relegated ‘Wegians last year, 2017 Bateman Cup finalists Old Belvedere have reserved some of their best performance for the provincial and All-Ireland Cup competitions. Despite struggling in the league this term, ‘Belvo are capable of beating any of their top flight rivals on their day.
Home advantage is a big plus for Paul Cunningham’s charges who were really impressive in January’s 44-14 semi-final dismissal of Ballynahinch. Experienced full-back Daniel Riordan remains a livewire in attack, and Willie Staunton will put it up to Con’s ever-accurate out-half Tomas Quinlan in the place-kicking stakes.
The sides’ regular season meetings were both won by Brian Hickey’s Leesiders, Quinlan kicking five penalties in October’s 20-14 win at Anglesea Road and powerful forwards Brian Hayes and Luke Cahill both touching down when Con triumphed 16-10 at home in early March.
Tighthead prop Rory Burke is absent this afternoon as he has made his first Munster PRO12 squad, selected for bench duty against Benetton Treviso, while Belvedere, whose own front row is led by Munster ‘A’ and Ireland Club international-capped hooker Ed Rossiter, know that a strong set piece display is vital to their chances of upsetting the form-book.
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Cork Constitution to win