FIXTURES: Saturday 19/03/05 Semi Final Shannon v Cork Constitution, Thomond Park, 1pm Sunday 20/03/05 Semi Final UCC v Garryowen, Musgrave Park, 2.30pm
Next weekend sees the semi finals of the Munster Senior Cup take place, with the final four in the later stages of preparation for what are expected to be tough encounters. Cork Constitution will face the task of unseating defending champions Shannon when they meet in Thomond Park on Saturday, while UCC will meet last year s runners up Garryowen at Musgrave Park on Sunday.
Beating Dolphin 13-5 in the first round, Cork Constitution came through their quarter final against Young Munster on Friday night last at Temple Hill. In a fine display by the Cork side, Young Munster were edged out of the competition on a 27-15 margin despite solid pressure from Young Munster in the second half. Scoring four tries in total, and with Leinster scrum half Brian O Meara on target with a penalty and two conversions, Cork Constitution now prepare for a semi final clash with Shannon, with the team not expected to be named until later in the week. Coming on the back of some great wins, Cork Constitution will certainly put it up to the champions in what is sure to be a game not to be missed.
With Shannon going for their sixth consecutive title in the competition, they have a tremendous record in the competition and are certainly the team to beat. Although the team isn t likely to be announced before Saturday, there are no major injury worries in the Shannon camp. Defeating Old Crescent 36-11 in the first round, and getting a walkover from Sunday s Well in the quarter final, Shannon will be planning on staying on course for a historic sixth win.
In the other semi final, Garryowen will be aiming to go through to the final and compete for their 36th Munster Senior Cup title, but first have to overcome UCC on Sunday. Garryowen had a 19-9 win over UL Bohemian in the first round, and a close 13-10 victory over Thomond in their quarter final draw. With Ray Niland at centre the only injury worry prior to the game, Garryowen will travel with a strong squad.
With the college not having won the competition since 1981, this year s competition saw them progress with some excellent results. Despite having a close 24-22 victory over Midleton in the first round, UCC cruised through the quarter final with a comfortable 33-7 win over Waterpark. Scoring five tries in that game, and with the boot of Robert Lane kicking four conversions, the college were formidable, setting up a mouth watering clash with last year s runners up. The final line up won t be known until the weekend, but with stalwart second row Alfie Laffan returning from injury, along with the availability of the Irish U.21 contingent of Dave O Leary, Robert Quinn and Denis Hurley, UCC will be putting out a very strong squad. With a great win over UL Bohemian in the Dudley Cup last weekend, and the Junior team beating Kilfeacle in the Munster Junior Cup quarter final last weekend, confidence is high in the college camp.