Today’s Energia All-Ireland Junior Cup final promises to be a gripping showdown as both Dromore and Kilfeacle & District seek to have their name etched on the trophy for the first time. Coolmine RFC is the venue for the 2.30pm kick-off.
Irish Rugby TV will have delayed coverage of the game in full with a commentary team of Justin Middleton and David Keane. Highlights will also be available.
ENERGIA ALL-IRELAND JUNIOR CUP FINAL: Saturday, January 25
KILFEACLE & DISTRICT v DROMORE, Coolmine RFC, 2.30pm
Current League & Cup Form – Kilfeacle & District: WWWWW; Dromore: WWWLW
Current League Positions – Kilfeacle & District: 1st, Munster Junior League Division 1; Dromore: 1st, Kukri Ulster Rugby Championship Division 1
Routes To The Final:
Kilfeacle & District –
First round: Won 28-19 at home to Wicklow
Quarter-final: Won 26-18 at home to Kilkenny
Semi-final: Won 27-22 at home to Ashbourne
First round: Won 38-10 at home to Newcastle West
Quarter-final: Won 47-7 at home to Grosvenor
Semi-final: Won 24-14 away to Crosshaven
Energia All-Ireland Junior Cup Records:
Kilfeacle & District –
2009/10: Lost in the first round (L59-12 away to Boyne)
2011/12: Lost in the first round (L43-7 away to Tullamore)
2013/14: Reached the quarter-finals (W30-14 away to OLBC; L29-0 away to Clogher Valley)
2017/18: Runners-up (W24-7 away to Monivea; W12-10 away to Connemara; W17-14 at home to Newcastle West; Final – L18-9 to Ashbourne at Portlaoise RFC)
2018/19: Lost in the first round (L52-3 away to Wicklow)
2006/07: Reached the quarter-finals (W15-10 at home to Westport; L27-25 at home to Mallow)
2010/11: Reached the quarter-finals (W55-22 at home to Ballina; L 36-15 at home to Crosshaven)
2015/16: Lost in first round (Gave walkover win to Enniscorthy)
Preview: Coolmine’s Ashbrook venue plays host to 2018 runners-up Kilfeacle and first-time finalists Dromore. Either club will become the first Junior Cup champions from outside of Leinster since Crosshaven in 2011.
It is fitting that Kilfeacle and Dromore have both made it through to the decider, as they are the current leaders of their respective provincial leagues. Indeed, the table-topping Tipperary men are unbeaten with nine wins out of nine.
Kilfeacle’s player-coach Willie Staunton, who holds a crucial role at out-half, is having a very impressive first season at the helm. The highlight so far was last month’s dethroning of Junior Cup giants Ashbourne at the semi-final stage.
They have done their best work at home, so now the challenge is to replicate it in the capital. Staunton feels they are well equipped to do so, saying: “Our away form has been pretty good. Newcastle West and Mallow, we had good wins down there.
“I don’t think it fazes our lads at all. With the away form, it’s just another challenge. If we stick to our game, stick to our guns, we don’t mind where we go.
“(The final) is something that has been on our minds since we beat Ashbourne. The lads have been there two years ago in the final. They’re mad to get back at it again and get one more shot at it.”
The 32-year-old play-maker rates Dromore as ‘an excellent, well-organised side’. The Co. Down outfit also have a head coach in his first year, Jamie Kirk, who has made great strides on the back of Dromore winning a long-awaited Millar McCall Wylie Junior Cup twelve months ago.
Reflecting on the buoyant mood in camp after knocking out Crosshaven in an away semi-final before Christmas, Kirk admitted: “The experience itself, going down (to Cork) for the two nights and obviously the semi-final occasion itself, the boys were really excited about.
“The home games are nice, but to win away it probably gives you more of a boost in confidence for progressing into the final. We know where Kilfeacle are dangerous and that’s probably all we’ll read into it.
“Instead of getting too bogged down with Kilfeacle, we’ll probably try to focus more on us. Being aware of the threat they can pose up front.
“To achieve success, to put us on the map nationally, would be massive for us. The boys really crave that feeling of success for their home club. They’re an ambitious playing group. They’re capable of it and there’s plenty of belief there as well.”
Staunton starred in the 27-22 semi-final victory over Ashbourne, finishing with 22 points with a try, a conversion, four penalties and a drop goal. Strong-carrying back rower Kevin Kinane was a key figure too, breaking through for the opening try.
With player-assistant coach Josh Pentland pulling the strings in the back-line, Dromore also relied on a strong start to overcome Crosshaven. Ulster Junior out-half Lee Steenson converted all three of their tries and added a penalty in a 24-14 triumph.
David Lyttle and Steenson are a very adept half-back pairing, while Dromore’s pack is boosted by the return of front rowers Andrew Black and Fraser Mulholland as well as flanker Pete Elliot.
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Dromore to win
Energia All-Ireland Junior Cup Roll Of Honour –
2010: City of Derry
2006: Rainey Old Boys