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.
HEINEKEN MUNSTER JUNIOR LEAGUE FIRST DIVISION FINAL Nenagh Ormond v Cobh Pirates Sunday 20th March 2005 Nenagh, 2.30pm
In the first division of the Munster Junior League, the League title as well as a place in the All Ireland Round Robin series will be up for grabs when Cobh Pirates travel to Nenagh Ormond on Sunday.
Nenagh Ormond had a narrow home victory over Kilfeacle in the semi finals, with just one point separating the sides at full time at 15-14, with tries from Trevor Slattery and Denis Connolly, and the boot of Liam Delaney giving the home side the edge. Nenagh Ormond have come through to the latter stages of both the Munster Junior League and Munster Junior Cup, after securing their semi final place in the Munster Junior Cup last weekend with a 20-15 win over Dolphin. Nenagh Ormond are the defending champions in the Munster Junior Cup and a series of excellent results put them well in position to contest strongly for both titles. The squad is very much a home grown one, with captain Robbie Pole and Denis O Meara lending a wealth of experience. Combined with a number of younger players brought on from the 2000 All Ireland U.18 team, the side has a successful blend of youth and more experienced players.
After a 12-3 win against Cashel in the quarter finals, Cobh Pirates had to go to extra time with Youghal to secure their 20-10 victory in the semi finals. Both teams were level at half time with seven points a piece, and at full time were locked on 10-10. It took the dynamic David Whalley at full back to launch Pirates into the final with an extra time try which edged out a battling Youghal. Cobh Pirates had a tough first round clash with Cork Constitution in the Munster Junior Cup, but have progressed to the semi final of the Junior Plate, with a 20-17 win over Youghal last weekend. Key players include captain Brendan Ronan at out half, Brett Abramson and Ian Dunne in the back row, and a strong front row. For Cobh Pirates, it s the biggest day in the club s history, having never got to this stage previously and is sure to be well supported.