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Captains Preview Old Crescent v Cork Constitution Semi-Final

21st September 2023 By The Editor

Captains Preview Old Crescent v Cork Constitution Semi-Final

A view of the bank of Ireland Munster Senior Challenge Cup ©INPHO

On Saturday, Old Crescent welcome Cork Constitution to Takumi Park for the semi-final of the Bank of Ireland Munster Senior Challenge Cup (KO 2.30pm).

In the new format of the competition teams were drawn into four Pools for a round-robin format with the four Pool winners advancing to the semi-finals.

Old Crescent qualified for the last four after clinching a bonus-point win over Dolphin and picking up a losing bonus-point against Clonmel. Cork Con secured bonus point wins over Highfield, Nenagh Ormond and Shannon to secure their place in the last four.

Munster Rugby spoke with the captains of Old Crescent and Cork Constitution, John Toland and Dave Hyland, to get their thoughts on what will be an intriguing clash in Rosbrien on Saturday.

How are the excitement levels ahead of Saturday’s semi-final? 

JT: Obviously, we’re aware that we won’t be favourites for this one but it’s a good opportunity for us to go up against a top side and there’s no pressure on us really so we’re excited for it.

DH: It’s a really important competition to us. We probably haven’t performed that well in it over recent years. We’re really looking to this now and taking it very seriously.

How has your pre-season and preparation been throughout the summer? 

JT: Yeah we had a very good pre-season to be fair. We got going at the end of June and start of July. It has been pretty tough to be fair. There has been a big emphasis on fitness obviously. The coaches have been good. We have a big squad numbers-wise as well. A young squad as well. We have a lot of lads who have come up through 20s and stuff in the last few years so it’s exciting.

DH: Really good to be honest. We feel like we’ve built a decent bit of momentum at the moment. Pre-season has gone really well. We’ve had some tough enough fitness blocks with our S&C coach Pat Ryan, a lot of testing. So we all got through that fairly well. We’ve had a good run of games now in the round-robin. Some challenging and physical games as well. It has been good so far.

How have you found the new format of the Bank of Ireland Munster Senior Challenge Cup? 

JT: The more games the better because in the group games, a lot of lads got an opportunity. Separate teams went out for each game so a lot of people got a chance to put their hand up. It worked out well for us and it’s good preparation for the AIL, which is only a few weeks away now.

DH: We found it very beneficial in terms of our preparation in getting meaningful games in before the AIL starts as well as the fact that it’s a very important competition. So the round-robin has definitely impacted us positively in terms of game-time and getting fellas in and rotating people and giving people the chance to prove themselves.

What would it mean to reach the final? 

JT: I think the last time we were in a semi-final was 10 or 15 years ago. It would be huge to get to past this and to get into a final. It would be unreal. So there’s plenty to look forward to on Saturday and hopefully things go well and we can get a good result.

DH: It would be huge to be honest. We haven’t been there in a good few years now. We said it together as a group that it’s definitely one of our goals to get to a final and win a Senior Cup and put the club back up in that bracket of Senior Cup winners. It would definitely mean a lot.

What are you expecting from the opposition this weekend? 

JT: They’ve (Cork Con) been one of the best sides in the country over the last few years so we know they’ll be pretty strong up front and probably well able to play good rugby as well. It’s definitely a good challenge for us. Hopefully we can give a good account of ourselves anyway and stop them if we can.

DH: It’s probably a bit of an unknown for us but we definitely have a lot of respect for them (Old Crescent). From what we’ve heard and of our impression of them, they will be quite good up front, a physical side and definitely able to play too. Beyond that, we don’t know too much so that’s a challenge for us, dealing with that unknown. But as I said previously, we’re really looking forward to it now and we have a lot of respect for them.

Please note that the other semi-final between Garryowen and Bruff which was scheduled to take place this Saturday has been postponed due to the bereavement of Hannah Maher, mother of Bruff’s senior men’s captain Pa.

Munster Rugby would like to offer our condolences to the Maher family and their friends and all at Bruff RFC at this sad time. 

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