12 Dec, 17:21
Munster Rugby recently held a Clare Schools U16 blitz at Ennis in Lees Road, Co. Clare.
While this historic Cup is a much desired prize in its own right, there is also the added incentive for both sides with the winner set to advance to the semi-final of the All Ireland Senior Cup where they will have a home tie against U.C.D. This should add some extra spice to the fair, particularly for Garryowen, who will want to make amends for last year’s defeat in that decider having looked in control. It would also be a magnificent opportunity for Bruff to gain a lot of exposure outside the Province. For now however, all focus will be on the eighty minutes come Sunday.
Garryowen are a side with one of the strongest histories in this competition. They have regularly lifted the trophy at each stage since it was initiated and are always in the hunt for honours. This year’s team has plenty of talent at their disposal.
Their campaign saw them starting off with a tricky encounter against a buoyant UL Bohemian side who were fancying their chances after knocking out holders Young Munster. The game took place under lights at Dooradoyle and it proved to be an intense encounter. The accurate kicking of Declan Cusack proved crucial for the light Blues with six successful penalties helping his side earn an 18-16 win.
In the semi-final they took on a very powerful Dolphin side in what proved to be a highly entertaining topsy turvy encounter. Garryowen ended up pulling away in the final twenty minutes with late tries from Corey Hircock and Lucas Kuntz helping them to a 43-26 win. Declan Cusack ended the match with a total of 23 points but the game was very much in the balance going into the final quarter as the Limerick side held a mere three point lead. They battled hard throughout with Kuntz also getting a try earlier on while Lorcan Burke also touched down.
It has been a wonderful ten years for Bruff, from their dominance in the Munster Junior Leagues through to establishing themselves as one of the top Senior clubs in the country in recent weeks. This success didn’t happen by accident, with the club building their success from the ground work. They have established one of the strongest underage set-ups in recent years and this has not only helped to produce plenty of quality players but has added to the parish spirit in the club.
All their battling qualities certainly came to fruition in their opening round clash with Shannon. The pack were fired up from the start. This allowed the backs to attack space with Brendan Deady getting in for a try while wing-forward John Shine also touched down. Brian Cahill kicked a further eleven points to secure a 21-14 victory against the side that have been to the fore in this competition for the past 20 years.
The Killballyowen club were rewarded with another home tie, but it couldn’t have been any more difficult as they took on All Ireland League and Cup holders Cork Constitution. There was no fear from the Limerickclub of their illustrious opponents and they managed to get themselves into an 11-0 lead by the hour mark. Two penalties by Brian Cahill were added on to an early try by Brian Deady. There was an inevitable backlash from the Temple Hill club and while Frank Cogan did break through for a try, Bruff remained resolute in defence to secure a well earned victory.
With Highfield unable to field in the semi-final, Bruff were given a bye to the Final although there can be no complaints that they deserve their place.
Both clubs have also shown some good form in the League. After a shaky start, Bruff have risen up the table to third place in division 1B and are right in the hunt for a play-off and promotion place. Garryowen have struggled by their own high standards in what is a highly competitive Section. They have always been competitive and have thrived particularly against Cork opposition with a big win over Dolphin and unlucky to only get a draw against Cork Con’.
Garryowen hope that both half backs Declan Cusack and Conor Murray will be available and their presence would be a big boost to the Dooradoyle side.
Both sides have players that are capable of turning a game and if their previous clashes in this competition are anything to go by, it should be yet another cracking Final.