Garryowen wary of upset as fearless Bruff go in search of glory

FACED with such a mammoth challenge, members of Bruff RFC should be shivering in their boots in the build up to tomorrow’s ODM Munster Cup final against specialists Garryowen at Thomond Park (2.30pm).

Instead, it’s the Dooradoyle club doing the worrying, as they face into a clash against a team with nothing to lose and with a record of showing little respect for the opposition.

In terms of off-field respect, Bruff won’t be found wanting and now this tiny but strategically-placed outback club is ready to rock the boat — big time.

As Garryowen forwards coach Paul Cunningham rightly highlighted the necessity for the Munster Branch to reconsider its commitment to the future of this once highly-prized trophy, the final would appear to be the ideal way to make his point.

Cunningham said yesterday he was bitterly disappointed this old competition didn’t appear to get the status it deserved: “We (Garryowen) treat it seriously, unlike the people in the Branch who don’t. In my view, treat it with the respect it should get, not in the way they organise the games.

“This is a serious competition with a great history, and it’s now one that gives entry into an All-Ireland Cup. But playing it on the same weekend as a big Munster Heineken Cup game and a big Munster A game, is, I think, poor organisation.”

But Cunningham is looking forward to a final which, he believes, will be very different from some of the many that Garryowen have been involved in over a century of achievement.

“We have 37 titles, I think, and it’s great, but Bruff do deserve their place in the final and probably deserve to be favourites because of who they have beaten on the way (Shannon and Cork Constitution).

“They (Bruff) are an amazing club. They obviously have a huge collective ethic, lots of their guys born and bred in the region went in and played for city clubs over the years and they have gone back now. That has strengthened them.”

Bruff’s Eoin Cahill, a player-coach with medals falling out of every pocket from his time with Shannon, wouldn’t disagree. He believes his side will change the course of history tomorrow, delighted that his country-grounded players have the right mix of fear and expectation.

Cahill will rely somewhat on brothers Brian and Tony, but that’s not the extent of what Bruff can offer. A decent pack has helped produce seven wins from the last seven matches. Amongst them they can rely on Peter Malone to bring a level of stability and experience that most sides would envy.

Malone also has the inside track on Garryowen’s mindset, having helped the Dooradoyle club win the All-Ireland Cup, League and Munster Cup just three years ago.

“Peter’s influence cannot accurately be estimated,” said, Cahill yesterday, “but it’s huge.

“Overall, it’s a big day but this is our first visit to Thomond Park in 10 years. Last time we beat UCC to pick up the All-Ireland U20 title; it would be nice to revisit that and win again.”

BRUFF: B. Deady, A. Cashman, B. Cahill, E. Cahill, P. O’Brien, T. Cahill, E. Maher, D. Horan, C. Regan (captain), G. Ryan, A. Laffan, A. Burke, P. Malone, J. S. Shine, M. O’Connell.

GARRYOWEN: L. Burke, L. Kuntz, C. O’Shea, C. Hircock, A. Gahan, C. Doyle (captain), A. Healy, JP Cooney, R. Meyer, D. Lavery, M. Melbourne, F. McKenna, P. Neville, C. Hartigan, D. Sherry.

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