Cork Constitution are hoping home advantage can help them to a record sixth straight Ulster Bank Bateman Cup title tomorrow afternoon, with one of their former favourites, Lansdowne out-half Scott Deasy, plotting Con’s downfall on Leeside.
ULSTER BANK BATEMAN CUP FINAL: Saturday, April 21
CORK CONSTITUTION v LANSDOWNE, Temple Hill, 1pm (live RTÉ Two/www.rte.ie/live)
* Admission is €;10 for adults and €;5 for OAPs and students. There will be no car parking in Temple Hill on Saturday
Ulster Bank League Form – Cork Constitution: WLWLLWWWLWWLWLWWWL; Lansdowne: WWWWWWWWWWWWLWLWWW
Ulster Bank League Top Scorers – Cork Constitution: Points: Tomas Quinlan 149; Tries: Rob Jermyn 6; Lansdowne: Points: Scott Deasy 196; Tries: Mark O’Keeffe, Alan Bennie 9 each
Ulster Bank League Season’s Record – Cork Constitution: 3rd place finish (away semi-final), 11 wins; Lansdowne: 1st place finish (home semi-final), 16 wins
This Season’s League Meetings – Sunday, October 8, 2017: Lansdowne 24 Cork Constitution 10, Aviva Stadium back pitch; Sunday, March 11, 2018: Cork Constitution 25 Lansdowne 13, Temple Hill
Did You Know?
1. Cork Constitution are bidding to become the first club to achieve a Bateman Cup six in-a-row. They passed out Lansdowne (winners in 1922, 1929, 1930 and 1931) at the top of the roll of honour when beating Old Belvedere 18-13 in the 2017 decider.
2. If Lansdowne 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, 2016 and 2017) 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 – Match Report / Video Highlights
2012 – Garryowen 24 Ballymena 6 – Match Report
2013 – Cork Constitution 24 St. Mary’s College 19 – Match Report / Post-Match Video
2014 – Cork Constitution 19 UCD 6 – Match Report
2015 – Cork Constitution 24 Clontarf 9 – Match Report
2016 – Cork Constitution 38 Galwegians 19 – Match Report
2017 – Cork Constitution 18 Old Belvedere 13 – Match Report
Paths To The Final –
Munster Senior Cup
– won 20-12 v Shannon away
– won 44-10 v UCC away
– lost 23-14 v Garryowen away
Ulster Bank Bateman Cup semi-final
– won 20-13 v City of Armagh (away)
Leinster Senior League Cup
– won 50-0 v Old Belvedere home
– won 19-13 v UCD away
– won 31-20 v St. Mary’s College away
– won Clontarf 9-0 (final at Castle Avenue)
Ulster Bank Bateman Cup semi-final
– won 34-15 v Sligo (away)
Preview: Scott Deasy, Division 1A’s top scorer this season with 196 points, will captain Lansdowne as they go in search of the club’s first Bateman Cup success since 1931. Cork Constitution are the competition’s modern-day kingpins, but Lansdowne also have a rich pedigree with four titles between 1922 and 1931.
This is actually a repeat of the inaugural Bateman Cup decider which Lansdowne won 6-5 at Lansdowne Road in April 1922, although Con’s Jack Sweeney had a try controversially ruled out. Neither side will want it to come down to refereeing decisions in what is the first leg of a potential All-Ireland League and Cup double for both.
The talismanic Deasy will lead Lansdowne with regular skipper Ian Prendiville missing out through injury. Fellow Corkman Eamonn Mills continues to impress in attack and defence as the headquarters club’s full-back, while Mark O’Keeffe and Alan Bennie are among the leading try scorers in the top flight with nine between them this season.
There will be plenty of Ireland Sevens talent on display at Temple Hill, with Lansdowne’s Bennie, Foster Horan, Adam Leavy and Ian Fitzpatrick, who could make a big impact off the bench, coming up against Cork Con’s Alex McHenry and Shane Daly. Fitzpatrick and Daly were part of the Irish team that lost out to Japan in the recent World Series qualifying tournament in Hong Kong.
Up against Deasy and Bennie at half-back will be Tomas Quinlan and Gerry Hurley, the wily pairing who have had a key influence on trophies coming back to the Con clubhouse in recent years. 20 points from 23-year-old Quinlan’s classy left boot in last year’s league final saw them do the double, while Hurley, who turns 34 next month, is back in the famous white jersey after a two-year stint with Rugby Olympique de Grasse in France.
Fireworks are expected at set piece time, with both clubs traditionally very strong in the scrum, lineout and maul. Brian Hayes and Conor Kindregan keep producing the goods in Con’s engine room, with their extended squad for the final also including Munster’s Darren O’Shea and Evan Mintern.
You would be hard pressed to find a finer Ulster Bank League servant than Gorey man Willie Earle, who has made 126 league appearances for Lansdowne. He is on a collision course with Con’s own industrious number 8 Luke Cahill.
Unsurprisingly, given the closeness of these teams on paper, it was one home win apiece during the league’s regular season. Lansdowne, who impressively topped the table by ten points, were 24-10 winners over Con on the Aviva Stadium’s back pitch in October. Deasy played a starring role, kicking four penalties and converting his own 77th-minute try for a 19-point haul.
An early Hayes penalty and Quinlan’s 20 points from the tee did the damage in March’s return match at Temple Hill, as Lansdowne went down 25-13 in only their second defeat of the league campaign. Con overturned Old Belvedere’s home advantage in last season’s Bateman Cup decider, and it just might be Lansdowne’s turn to take the venerable trophy back to the capital for the first time since Blackrock College were winners in 1939.
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win
CORK CONSTITUTION Squad – Backs: Barry Galvin, Greg Higgins, JJ O’Neill, Liam O’Connell, Rob Jermyn, Shane Daly, Alex McHenry, Niall Kenneally (capt), Tomas Quinlan, Jason Higgins, Gerry Hurley.
Forwards: Gavin Duffy, Brendan Quinlan, Ger Sweeney, Dylan Murphy, Paddy Casey, Vincent O’Brien, Jack McHenry, David McCormack, Brian Hayes, Conor Kindregan, Darren O’Shea, Joe McSwiney, Ross O’Neill, Sean Duffy, Evan Mintern, Luke Cahill.
LANSDOWNE: Eamonn Mills; Foster Horan, Harry Brennan, Mark O’Keeffe, Adam Leavy; Scott Deasy (capt), Alan Bennie; Martin Mulhall, Tyrone Moran, Greg McGrath, Josh O’Rourke, Jack Dwan, Jack O’Sullivan, Aaron Conneely, Willie Earle.
Replacements: James Rael, Ntinga Mpiko, Barry Fitzpatrick, Gareth Molloy, Charlie McMickan, Ian Fitzpatrick, Adam Boland.
Referee: George Clancy (IRFU)