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Players Preview | Munster Senior Challenge Cup Semi-Final

27th September 2023 By The Editor

Players Preview | Munster Senior Challenge Cup Semi-Final

A place in the final of the Bank of Ireland Munster Senior Challenge Cup is up for grabs on Thursday evening ©INPHO

On Thursday, Garryowen welcome Bruff to Dooradoyle for the Bank of Ireland Munster Senior Challenge Cup semi-final (KO 7.30pm).

The winners will then meet Cork Constitution in the final of this season’s competition after the Cork side beat Old Crescent in the other semi-final on Saturday.

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.

Garryowen have reached this stage thanks to two bonus point wins over UCC and Cashel while Bruff advanced to the last four after wins against UL Bohemian and Midleton.

Munster Rugby spoke with Garryowen captain Jamie Heuston and Bruff vice-captain Cillian Rea to get their thoughts on what will be an intriguing clash in Dooradoyle on Thursday evening.

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

JH: Yeah really looking forward to it now. We did a good preseason and we have a lot work done so really looking forward to a Senior Cup semi-final.

CR: Yeah, I suppose it has been a while since we’ve got to this stage of the competition, especially with the ranking that we’ve been in. We’ve normally had quite a tough opening draw so the pool system this year was definitely an opportunity to go at the competition from a different approach this year. I’m delighted to be where we are so really looking forward to the challenges ahead.

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

JH: The preseason was very good now, we’ve got a good coaching team now in this year with Mark Butler, Neil Lucey, Neil Cronin and Damien O’Donoghue. We’ve an awful lot of work put in and it was good to get the three competitive games in there before the AIL starts as well. So really looking forward to playing Bruff in a semi-final.

CR: We have a lot of young lads coming through on the squad so that has been a big help this year, numbers have been going up and there has been a strong push to make the 20s squad more involved with the Senior squad this year, trying to bring the two together. So that has been beneficial to us this year. To be where we are now and having a good preseason under our belt, hopefully it will stand to us when we get to AIL on the 7th October.

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

JH: As I said, with the new coaching team, it has given us a good basis to know where we are going into the AIL. We have a lot of things to work on in the three games and I think we’re in a good place going into the semi-final and going into the AIL as well.

CR: With the old system, you had one chance and if you didn’t perform in that you were out of it, a traditional Cup competition but the fact that we had a Pool stage and particularly the time of the year, it’s a great way to play teams that you wouldn’t normally play in the division ahead of you. It gives you a good chance to prepare for what’s coming down the line. I’m definitely a big fan of having extra games.

What would it mean to reach the final?

JH: It would be absolutely huge for us. Garryowen have a huge tradition in the Senior Cup and I don’t think there’s too many on the squad with Senior Cup medals so it will be a huge opportunity for us to hopefully get into a final if we get over Bruff.

CR: When we were last in the final, we were actually playing Garryowen in it. For a club like ourselves, being a small rural club, it would be massive for us. We got a taste of it getting into a final last year in Division 2C and if we could replicate that, it would be a really special day for the club. We’ll take it one step at a time for now and we’ll focus on Garryowen.

What are you expecting from the opposition? 

JH: I’m expecting a tough game. They’ve had two good results in their group. They’ll be coming into Dooradoyle full of expectation and hoping for a win so we’ll have to be at our very best to get through Bruff.

CR: They’ve had a few good results in the last couple of games so we’ll be under no illusions. They have a good, well-drilled squad. A lot of fellas coming in and out who have played high standards consistently, especially in 1A last year. We’ll be under no illusions, it will be a good physical test and the speed of their game will be a challenge but it’s definitely one that we’re looking forward to.

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