Before next week’s resumption of All-Ireland League action, the Bateman Cup semi-finals take centre stage tomorrow with defending champions Lansdowne bound for Dooradoyle to meet top flight rivals Garryowen, while the other game is a Division 1B derby between City of Armagh and Buccaneers.
BATEMAN CUP SEMI-FINALS: Saturday, January 12
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
CITY OF ARMAGH (2nd, Div 1B) v BUCCANEERS (10th, Div 1B), Palace Grounds
Provincial Cups – City of Armagh (Ulster Senior Cup): Beat Bangor 50-14 (home), Beat Omagh 40-3 (home), Beat Rainey Old Boys 31-15 (home); Buccaneers (Connacht Senior Cup): Beat Corinthians 16-14 (home) (final)
Preview: City of Armagh, who lifted the Ulster Senior Cup for the first time last season, get another bite at the Bateman Cup cherry after losing 20-13 to Cork Constitution at this stage twelve months ago. Last Saturday’s five-try 31-15 win over Rainey Old Boys was topped off by captain Chris Colvin’s intercept try and sent Armagh through to the Ulster decider on February 8.
Turning their attention to this prestigious All-Ireland Cup competition, Willie Faloon’s men are hoping to set up a second final appearance in quick succession. However, an equally ambitious Buccaneers side stand in their way, the clubs having met for the first time ever in the league just last month.
Two-try full-back Callum Boland’s man-of-the-match performance helped Buccs to a 24-17 win over Armagh in Athlone, but the Pirates ended 2018 bottom of the Division 1B table with Faloon’s charges flying high in second place. Buccs have found the Bateman Cup tough going, losing semi-finals in 2012, 2015 and 2017.
Kieran Joyce’s controversially-awarded last-minute penalty saw the midlanders pip Corinthians 16-14 last week, securing their third Connacht Senior Cup in five years. Peter Claffey is an injury doubt for the trip north, and although Martin Staunton and Rory Moloney are sidelined, they should have a strong team out with Luke Carty, Rory O’Connor and Niall Farrelly set to come back in.
Carty’s individual battle at out-half with Cormac Fox will be one to watch. Armagh are expected to pair Jonny Pollock with Evin Crummie in midfield as skipper Colvin is unavailable. The hosts’ selection up front is boosted by returning back rower Robbie Whitten, while lock Peter Starrett is set for his first run-out since being included in the Ireland Club international squad.
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: City of Armagh to win
GARRYOWEN (4th, Div 1A) v LANSDOWNE (2nd, Div 1A), Dooradoyle
Provincial Cups – Garryowen (Munster Senior Cup): Won 26-23 v Young Munster (home), Won 27-9 v Shannon (home), Lost 26-23 v Cork Constitution (Thomond Park) (final); Lansdowne (Leinster Senior League Cup): Won 31-5 v Clontarf (home), Won 39-10 v Old Belvedere (away), Won 34-14 v Dublin University (home), Won 42-5 v Terenure College (Energia Park) (final)
Preview: Garryowen are hoping to conjure up a repeat of October’s 17-14 triumph at home to Lansdowne, a game in which forwards Liam Cronin and Sean Rennison both touched down. Notably, Lansdowne have won all seven of their league games since then and are chasing back-to-back Bateman Cups for the first time since the club’s trio of wins between 1929 and 1931.
The Light Blues have had to quickly get over the disappointment of losing their Munster Senior Cup crown to Cork Constitution last Saturday. Tries from Cian O’Shea and Liam Coombes book-ended the second half but it was not enough for Conan Doyle’s side whose hopes of dethroning Lansdowne have been hit by an untimely ‘A’ interprovincial fixture.
The likes of Coombes, former captain Neil Cronin, Sean O’Connor, Conor Oliver and Ronan O’Mahony are on duty with Munster ‘A’ this afternoon, while Lansdowne have Ronan Kelleher, Harry Byrne, Peter Dooley and new Leinster cap Oisin Dowling all starting for Leinster ‘A’ at Thomond Park.
As ever when these two clubs clash, the set piece battle will be hugely important. Some players who will join forces for the Ireland Club team against Scotland next month will be at the heart of the forward exchanges, including Garryowen front rowers Liam Cronin and Andy ‘Panda’ Keating, and Lansdowne’s Ian Prendiville and Jack O’Sullivan.
This is a trophy Mike Ruddock’s men are very eager to retain, especially given Lansdowne’s rich Bateman Cup pedigree from the 1920s and 1930s. Garryowen were the 2012 champions and have won four tight league matches since late November, but the depth of the visitors’ squad should see them tee up another springtime shot at a national title.
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Lansdowne to win
(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
Clubs may tog out up to seven replacements for both the semi-finals and the final and rolling substitutions will apply.
Nationally or provincially contracted players may not play in the Bateman Cup where a Division 1 club is drawn against a Division 2 club. Development and Academy contracted players are eligible to play in this competition.
All-Ireland Cup Champions’ Roll Of Honour:
2017/18 – Lansdowne (Bateman Cup)
2016/17 – Cork Constitution (Bateman Cup)
2015/16 – Cork Constitution (Bateman Cup)
2014/15 – Cork Constitution (Bateman Cup)
2013/14 – Cork Constitution (Bateman Cup)
2012/13 – Cork Constitution (Bateman Cup)
2011/12 – Garryowen (Bateman Cup)
2010/11 – Bruff (Bateman Cup)
2009/10 – Cork Constitution
2008/09 – Ballynahinch
2007/08 – Shannon
2006/07 – Garryowen
2005/06 – Cork Constitution