There will be a new name on one of Irish Rugby’s most prestigious club trophies when Buccaneers and Terenure College meet in the 2023 Energia Bateman Cup Final on Friday March 10th at 7:30pm.
That’s a game you can watch via a live stream on Irish Rugby’s YouTube page.
The competition is contested annually by the four provincial senior cup champions with Buccaneers booking their first ever final appearance with a 45-21 win over Queen’s University in Athlone.
This was the pirates’ first winning semi-final in five attempts. A 19-year-old Jack Carty was their only scorer in a 14-3 defeat to eventual winners Garryowen in 2012. They were bested by Cork Constitution in 2015 and the addition of Ireland 7s star Jordan Conroy couldn’t prevent them from the same fate in 2017.
Having lost to City Of Armagh in 2019, Buccs weren’t to be denied by Ulster Champions again in February, albeit with a much changed squad at their disposal.
Buccaneers last played Queen’s in the 2021/22 Men’s Division 2A Promotion Play-Off Final, but captain Martin Staunton was the only man on the pitch who’d started that game. Queen’s for their part had a completely different match day 23.
That left Buccaneers shorn of their Connacht contingent and leaders like Shane Layden and Danny Qualter, but a squad sprinkled with U20 and J1 players still ran in seven tries.
In terms of experience, the trio of Staunton, Layden and Qualter were all part of the Buccaneers team playing in their first ever Bateman Cup semi-final in 2012.
“We’ve had to juggle things about a fair bit this season,” says Head Coach Eddie O’Sullivan.
“We’ve a very good U20s side and it was a great experience for some of them to step up for a semi-final so we’re very happy. I was delighted with the performance.”
The 2023 final will be Terenure College’s first ever standalone fixture in the Bateman Cup – their 21-11 semi-final win over Young Munster in January was doubled with Round 10 in the Energia AIL Men’s Division.
Terenure’s path to the final actually goes back a full 18 months to their Round 1 Leinster Senior Cup win over Tullamore in August 2021. Irish Rugby was only starting to emerge from lockdown at that time. ‘Nure routinely bring over 1,000 supporters through the gates in Lakelands, but COVID-19 measures restricted that game to a limit of 200 spectators.
Next came a win away to Clontarf while fixture congestion forced a double up between the Leinster Senior Cup Final and the AIL semi-final with Lansdowne. It was a memorable day in Dublin 6W.
Alan Bennie was a Bateman Cup winner with Lansdowne in 2018, scoring a try in the final against Cork Con. Now in his second season with Terenure College, the scrum half understands the importance of All-Ireland silverware as a measure of success.
“The Bateman Cup is so difficult to win,” says Bennie.
“You have to be at your best in any final and this will be no different. Buccaneers are going well in Division 1B and gunning for promotion so they’ll have that something extra to prove on the day.
“I played 7s with Shane Layden and he’s exceptional and when you add in the young guys coming through, you can see they’re playing a really exciting brand of rugby.”
At the point when both sides became Provincial Cup champions last year, there were 20 league places between Buccaneers and Terenure in the AIL. Eddie O’Sullivan isn’t shying away from the underdogs’ tag.
“We know we’re up against it with Terenure,” he says. “They are a top team in Division 1A at the moment. It’s a big challenge for us but we’ll throw everything at it and see what happens.”
Friday March 10th, 2023
Energia Bateman Cup Final
Terenure College v Buccaneers, Lakelands Park, 7:30pm.
The best place to enjoy the Energia Bateman Cup Final will be at Lakelands Park. For fans who can’t attend, there will also be a live video stream available on Irish Rugby’s YouTube channel. Streaming services will be provided by Videos On The Net and the commentary team will be broadcaster Dan Mooney and former Ireland international Michelle Claffey.