Defiant Derham defends time change as Con cross Shannon

CORK CONSTITUTION’S director of rugby, Paul Derham, makes no apologies for his club’s insistence in successfully seeking a postponement of the ODM Munster Cup semi-final against Shannon.

The game, scheduled for today, will now go ahead at Clifford Park tomorrow (2pm), and Derham would ideally have liked to have the game deferred to another date.

Whilst he sympathised with Shannon’s objections — the Limerick club’s second string will now be without a match for three weeks — Derham pointed the finger of blame at the IRFU for introducing A interprovincial matches, and especially for reneging on a promise made to the clubs.

Derham insisted: “We had seven players involved with a Munster A squad for a game with Leinster on Thursday night; we were given a commitment from the IRFU that the club structure would not be interfered with because of these games.

“Our objection to the match going ahead on Saturday was in the interest of player welfare; the agreement was to have games played on either Mondays or Tuesdays, but someone in the IRFU changed that without consultation.

“A Munster Cup semi final between Cork Constitution and Shannon is a very important occasion; the Irish clubs have always been the third tier of Irish rugby, but now we appear to be the fourth tier.

“To ask players to engage in a serious representative match on a Thursday and another important game on Saturday was totally unreasonable. It would have been to the detriment of the clubs and an insult to the integrity of the competition.”

Either way, tomorrow’s game in Clifford Park will see the current two top teams in the country facing off.

Shannon top the AIL, and Cork Constitution follow closely behind. Both teams have a fantastic record in the Munster Senior Cup, with Shannon being the dominant force in this competition for the last decade.

Having defeated UL Bohemian by just one point in this year’s quarter-final, Con will be aiming to go one better than last year and lift the Cup.

Shannon have already disposed of last year’s champions in the quarter final, and so will be determined to win back the title so close to their hearts.

Shannon will wait until tomorrow to finalise the team; they have to wait on the availability of captain David Quinlan, John Clogan and Stephen Kelly.

Con will decide between Richard Lane and Evan Ryan at full back but welcome back Anthony Horgan, and both Jeremy Manning and John Kelly will make further appearances. It’s a very strong back division, while strength in depth in the back row means that Brian Walsh will have to choose from four quality forwards.

CORK CONSTITUTION (from): R. Lane, E.Ryan, A. Horgan, J. Kelly, T. Gleeson, C. Healy, J. Manning, D. Williams, C. Murphy, D. Murray, T. Ryan, M. O’Connell (captain), S. O’Connor, F. Cogan, E. Leamy, B. Holland, B. Cuttriss.

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