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Bruff Cherish Bateman Cup Success

Bruff Cherish Bateman Cup Success

Bruff were crowned Bateman All-Ireland Cup champions for the first time after they overcame a spirited effort from Dungannon in an enthralling encounter at Templeville Road.

It was a fitting final to mark this season's return of the Bateman Cup, with the game going right down to the wire. But it was Bruff who held out well for the victory after amassing a lead early on in the second half.

The Munster Senior Cup champions dominated the opening stages and took an 8-0 lead yet Dungannon, their Division 1B opponents, turned things around and played some great rugby to get themselves back in contention before half-time.

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Despite this, Bruff were able to score 10 points early in the second half and although Dungannon worked valiantly and mounted a spirited comeback, they could not take enough of their opportunities to turn the game around.

Bruff got off to a dream start, scoring a try after just two minutes. Prop David Horan, a brother of Munster and Ireland's Marcus Horan, burrowed through Dungannon's defence on the edge of a ruck for an unconverted score.

The early five-pointer spurred the Limerick side on and minutes later they forced a penalty inside Dungannon's 22 which out-half Tony Cahill coolly converted.

Bruff came out on top in most of the opening exchanges, but Dungannon soon grew into the game.

In the 20th minute, winger Michael Lawton slotted over a penalty from close range after some nice attacking play from the Tyrone outfit.

Bruff hit back quickly when Cahill knocked over a sweetly-struck penalty from the guts of 45 metres out.

But Justin Fitzpatrick's Dungannon side continued to pile the pressure on their opponents and they were eventually rewarded with a well-fashioned try before half-time.

Young full-back Conor Gaston, who was recently capped by Ulster, set the platform up when he collected the ball after his brilliantly-executed garryowen.

Scrum half Michael Kirkwood recycled quickly and spotting an overlap, the ball was passed to centre and captain Paul Magee in space and he glided in for the try. Lawton slotted the conversion to bring the scoreline to 11-10.

Bruff flanker Alan Bourke came ever so close to cancelling out Magee's try when he had a clear run to the try-line after breaking from two tackles, but Gaston was quick enough to get back and make the covering tackle.

Armed with a one-point advantage, Bruff started the second half on a bright note. In the 50th minute, Eoin Cahill's men exerted some fierce pressure to turn over a scrum five metres from Dungannon's try-line, and player-coach and number 8 Peter Malone was on hand to pick the ball and power over for Bruff's second try which Tony Cahill converted.

Minutes later, Dungannon were penalised for not releasing the tackler and Cahill once again proved his kicking capabilities, converting a long range effort to give Bruff a 21-10 advantage.

Dungannon hit back again with young talent Paddy Jackson operating as a key playmaker. Lawton slotted another penalty to make it 21-13 before Jackson released Gaston with a nicely-timed inside pass and he made a blistering run, forcing his way through the last tackle to dot down.

Yet with a couple of minutes to go, Tony Cahill kicked a penalty from in front of the posts to give Bruff a six-point lead.

With the last play of the game, Gaston almost found a way through the defence but Bruff did well to disrupt the attack and close out a hard-fought victory on a memorable day for Munster club rugby – Crosshaven from Cork won the Junior Cup decider.

Referee: John Carvill (IRFU)