The final of the Munster Junior Plate takes place this weekend, with two very determined teams intent on claiming the title.
Muskerry have advanced through the Plate with some determined performances, picking up good wins away from home. Having been beaten by Crosshaven in the Munster Junior Cup, Muskerry had a decisive 16-0 win over Killarney in the first round of the Plate. They knocked out Sunday s Well in the next round with a 13-12 result. Clonmel were their opponents in the quarter final and Muskerry clinched their place in the semi final with a 16-7 win away from home. Muskerry faced tough opposition in their semi final against Ennis, with the Cork side just edging through on a 6-3 margin.
With players such as scrum half Ian O Sullivan, out half Damien Curran and captain John Tiernan, Muskerry have plenty of ammunition in their side. Wing forward Shane Murphy has had a terrific season, while prop Liam O Sullivan has been hugely influential. There is some doubt at this stage about DJ O Leary, who is recovering from injury and fighting to be fit for the game. Coached by Mick Jones, Kevin O Sullivan and Steve Cone, Muskerry are sure to prove tough opponents and will be confident of a strong performance. This is their last major hurdle this season, and they will be aiming to finish on a high.
Cashel will be hoping to add another piece of silverware to the cabinet after winning their first ever provincial title by beating Nenagh Ormond in the final of the Munster Junior Clubs Cup earlier this year. They beat Thurles on a 25-15 margin in the first round of the Plate, and went on to dispose of St. Senan s in the second round by 35-14. In the quarter final, they had a comprehensive 24-5 win over Bruff, and put an end to Cobh Pirates aspirations in the Plate with an 8-6 win in the semi final.
Key to their success has been the influence of such players as full back Pat O Connor and Edmond Leamy in the back row, both Munster Juniors. Prop Timmy Moloney and stalwart Pat O Donoghue in the second row lend experience to the side, while prop Paddy Kelly has had a terrific season. The team is very much a home grown one, with all of the players living within a six mile radius of Cashel, commanding huge support from the local community. The Heineken Junior Plate final is the first of three Cup competitions they will compete for in the coming weeks, with a place in the final of the Mansergh Cup already rubber stamped, and a semi final of the Mansergh Cup to play. For a team that was at the bottom of the third division two years ago, they have made enviable leaps in the last few seasons.
PATH TO THE FINAL MUSKERRY SF: Muskerry 6 Ennis 3 QF: Clonmel 7 Muskerry 16 R2: Sunday s Well 12 Muskerry 13 R1: Muskerry 16 Killarney 0 Munster Junior Cup: beaten by Crosshaven 10-0
CASHEL SF: Cashel 8 Cobh Pirates 6 QF: Cashel 26 Bruff 5 R2: Cashel 35 St. Senan s 14 R1: Cashel 25 Thurles 15 Munster Junior Cup: beaten by Garryowen 18-5