Constitution Gear Up for Heineken Munster Junior Cup Final
24th April 2008 By Munster Rugby
Cork Constitution’s love affair with the MJC continues having qualified for this seasons’ final. They will play UCC at Musgrave Park on Friday 25th April at 7.30pm.
It will be Constitution’s 30th appearance in the final, so while they have won a record sixteen times, they have been on the losing side thirteen times – with nine of those in the first 40 years.
In the history of the competition, Con and UCC have only met once before in the final and that was just three years ago when Con won 17-5. Constitution are captained this season by Robert Casey who previously has won Cup medals in 1992 and ’94, thus emulating his father Bob who was scrum-half on the winning team in 1973.
The last UCC team to win the Cup in 1976 was captained by Paul Derham. He is currently Constitution’s Director of Rugby and his son Brian plays with UCC in the final on Friday evening.
Introduced 100 years ago in season 1908-09, the Cup was presented by J Macauley, Past President IRFU. It was inaugurated for competition between second teams of senior clubs and first teams of junior clubs, and has been played continuously with exception of the WW1 years when play was suspended.
Crescent College FC, a fore runner of Old Crescent club, were the first winners defeating Constitution 7-6 in the final on 6th May 1909 at the Mardyke. Constitution reached the final again in the following two years but lost to Garryowen 0-3 and Young Munster 3-6 after a replay. When play resumed after the war in 1920 they were again defeated 3-6 in the final by Shannon.
Shannon were the most successful club up to the second world war winning six times, with Young Munster and Dolphin picking up three each. UCC and Waterford City won two each while Waterpark won one outright and shared a second with Castleisland in 1941.
During the war years Dolphin won their fourth (and last!) when they recorded a Junior / Senior double. Highfield also added to their 1938 win with two further Cups in 1942 and 1945. Richmond put a successful run together winning their first in 1936 and adding three more in 1943, ’46 and ’52.
Constitution’s woe continued through the 1930’s, losing in 1932 to Bohemians, Richmond ’36, Shannon ’39, and Richmond again in ’46, before finally cracking the code in 1949, when they defeated St Marys 9-3 at the Mardyke, under the captaincy of Peter Fitzgerald.
They had better luck in the fifties with a win in 1951 against Old Crescent under captain, Charlie Connolly. And then, just like when waiting for the proverbial bus, the club won three-in-a-row between 1955 and 1957, before losing the 1958 final to Young Munster. Ray Hennessy, Jos Cunningham (father of last year’s Garryowen coach, Paul) and Dan Murphy (later a prominent referee) were the successful three-in-row captains.
Young Munster, Shannon (by now a senior club), UCC and Abbeyfeale dominated the 60’s with two wins each while Old Christians squeezed in to claim their one and only in 1965. St Marys (including Brendan Foley) won their one Cup in 1968 and then the other great Limerick club Thomond started their glorious run with the first of seven in 1971. Constitution had no success in the 60’s and won just one in the following decade when John Hogan’s team defeated Bandon in the 1973 final.
The Eighties were dominated by Thomond (four) and Constitution (five) while Young Munster captured the odd one in ’84. Constitution won in 1982 (Finian O’Drsicoll) and ’83 (Rea Kennedy) and had another three-in-a row ’86-’88 under the captaincies of Noel Murphy, Rea Kennedy and Trevor Barry. Thomond followed with three-in-a-row of their own ’89-’91.
In the Nineties Constitution (3), Garryowen, Shannon and Young Munster added to their totals. Emerging junior club Midleton inflicted a double defeat on Constitution in 1997 & ’98 starting a new era of success for junior club teams. Nenagh Ormond 2000 & ’04, Clonakilty ’01, Kilfeacle ’02 and Cobh Pirates ’06 have all won in this decade, while Constitution also added to their total with wins in ’03 over Nenagh and ’05 against UCC, but losing to Cobh Pirates in ’06.
In the role of honour, Constitution have won 16, Shannon and UCC 10, Thomond, Young Munster and Garryowen 7 each. There have been 94 Cups decided, since there was no competitions during the five war years, and the record shows that Junior clubs have won 47 times, while Senior clubs have also won 47. And in the last twenty years it is also level at ten each. Shannon won seven of their ten Cups as a junior club, while Highfield won three as a junior club and one in 1972 as a senior club. Of the sixteen current senior clubs, only Bruff, Old Crescent and Sunday’s Well have not won the Cup. On the Junior side nine of the current junior clubs have annexed the trophy.