In the history of the competition, Con and UCC have only met once before in the final and that was just three years ago when Con won 17-5. Constitution are captained this season by Robert Casey who previously has won Cup medals in 1992 and â0094, thus emulating his father Bob who was scrum-half on the winning team in 1973.
The last UCC team to win the Cup in 1976 was captained by Paul Derham. He is currently Constitution's Director of Rugby and his son Brian plays with UCC in the final on Friday evening.
Introduced 100 years ago in season 1908-09, the Cup was presented by J Macauley, Past President IRFU. It was inaugurated for competition between second teams of senior clubs and first teams of junior clubs, and has been played continuously with exception of the WW1 years when play was suspended.
Crescent College FC, a fore runner of Old Crescent club, were the first winners defeating Constitution 7-6 in the final on 6th May 1909 at the Mardyke. Constitution reached the final again in the following two years but lost to Garryowen 0-3 and Young Munster 3-6 after a replay. When play resumed after the war in 1920 they were again defeated 3-6 in the final by Shannon.
Shannon were the most successful club up to the second world war winning six times, with Young Munster and Dolphin picking up three each. UCC and Waterford City won two each while Waterpark won one outright and shared a second with Castleisland in 1941.
During the war years Dolphin won their fourth (and last!) when they recorded a Junior / Senior double. Highfield also added to their 1938 win with two further Cups in 1942 and 1945. Richmond put a successful run together winning their first in 1936 and adding three more in 1943, â0046 and â0052.
Constitutionâ00s woe continued through the 1930â00s, losing in 1932 to Bohemians, Richmond â0036, Shannon â0039, and Richmond again in â0046, before finally cracking the code in 1949, when they defeated St Marys 9-3 at the Mardyke, under the captaincy of Peter Fitzgerald.
They had better luck in the fifties with a win in 1951 against Old Crescent under captain, Charlie Connolly. And then, just like when waiting for the proverbial bus, the club won three-in-a-row between 1955 and 1957, before losing the 1958 final to Young Munster. Ray Hennessy, Jos Cunningham (father of last yearâ00s Garryowen coach, Paul) and Dan Murphy (later a prominent referee) were the successful three-in-row captains.
Young Munster, Shannon (by now a senior club), UCC and Abbeyfeale dominated the 60â00s with two wins each while Old Christians squeezed in to claim their one and only in 1965. St Marys (including Brendan Foley) won their one Cup in 1968 and then the other great Limerick club Thomond started their glorious run with the first of seven in 1971. Constitution had no success in the 60â00s and won just one in the following decade when John Hoganâ00s team defeated Bandon in the 1973 final.
The Eighties were dominated by Thomond (four) and Constitution (five) while Young Munster captured the odd one in â0084. Constitution won in 1982 (Finian Oâ00Drsicoll) and â0083 (Rea Kennedy) and had another three-in-a row â0086-â0088 under the captaincies of Noel Murphy, Rea Kennedy and Trevor Barry. Thomond followed with three-in-a-row of their own â0089-â0091.
In the Nineties Constitution (3), Garryowen, Shannon and Young Munster added to their totals. Emerging junior club Midleton inflicted a double defeat on Constitution in 1997 & â0098 starting a new era of success for junior club teams. Nenagh Ormond 2000 & â0004, Clonakilty â0001, Kilfeacle â0002 and Cobh Pirates â0006 have all won in this decade, while Constitution also added to their total with wins in â0003 over Nenagh and â0005 against UCC, but losing to Cobh Pirates in â0006.
In the role of honour, Constitution have won 16, Shannon and UCC 10, Thomond, Young Munster and Garryowen 7 each. There have been 94 Cups decided, since there was no competitions during the five war years, and the record shows that Junior clubs have won 47 times, while Senior clubs have also won 47. And in the last twenty years it is also level at ten each. Shannon won seven of their ten Cups as a junior club, while Highfield won three as a junior club and one in 1972 as a senior club. Of the sixteen current senior clubs, only Bruff, Old Crescent and Sundayâ00s Well have not won the Cup. On the Junior side nine of the current junior clubs have annexed the trophy.