Fired-up College and Munsters bid to end cup droughts

ANYONE doubting the importance of Munster Senior Cup would be advised to talk to Conor Twomey and Mike Prendergast, the respective coaches of UCC and Young Munster who clash in today’s Musgrave Park decider (4pm).

Eight months have elapsed since College set out on the road to today’s decider with a 16-12 win over Midleton on a weekend Young Munster accounted for Bruff (16-9).

Twomey believes the timing of the final is of benefit to both sides. He explained: “I think it’s the right time of the season to hold the final of such a special competition; the weather around this time of the year gives an opportunity for both sides to play decent rugby and, hopefully, make it the special day that it should be.”

The students, winners of the All-Ireland U21 title, beat UL Bohemian in the quarter-final (29-27) and cup specialists Shannon in a thrilling semi-final (21-16), while Young Munster had walk-over victories against Cashel and Cork Constitution. A subsequent dispute between Con and the Munster Branch of the IRFU forced the postponement of the final yet Prendergast insists his side remain focused on the task ahead despite the off field drama.

“We have to go back to 1990 for our last Munster Cup win — a long time ago — and coincidentally it was against College. The desire to win this trophy is as great now as it was then. I’ve been involved in five losing finals and John Paco Fitzgerald (an assistant to Prendergast) has lost 11 finals.

“Our players won’t be under any illusions as to how much a win would mean to the coaches of the club!”

The wait is even longer for UCC, whose last success was in 1981 against Shannon, and Twomey also made much of the desire to build on the rich tradition and history of the trophy. “

“The lads might be on the young side but they’re well aware of how important this trophy has been to UCC,” said Twomey. Indeed one of his players Brian Derham, is aiming to collect a winner’s medal and follow in the footsteps of his father Paul (Packie) with both UCC and Cork Con, and his grand-father, the late Vince Giltenan (Dolphin).

The sides have met twice this season in the AIB League with Young Munster coming out on top on both occasions but by narrow margins (14-10 and 14-12). Twomey is well aware of the opportunity to finish the season on a high, noting: “There’s a famous trophy up for grabs, we’re going to give it everything,” he said.

Prendergast added: “College are a quality side and they pushed us right to the limit on both occasions this season. We have had some pretty tough matches in the last few weeks but they won’t come tougher than this.”

UCC (from): G Duffy, W Falvey, J Ryan, B Cagney, A Cudmore, P Donnellan, M Lenihan, R Barry, B O’Callaghan, D O’Callaghan, S O’Sullivan, B Slater, D McGrath, R O’Sullivan, I Dineen, B Dennehy, C Crowley, W Walsh, S Scanlon.

YOUNG MUNSTER: I Cross, E Carroll, D Corcoran, C Casey, D Grace, A Kingsley, M Prendergast, G Flaherty, G Slattery, A Cotter, D Payne, S O’Neill, L Og Murphy, N Melbourne, S Hassett.

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