The game is a repeat of last year’s decider in which Bruff pulled off a surprise but fully deserved victory to claim the title for the first time. They were inspired on that occasion by Peter Malone, scorer of one of their two tries who put to outstanding benefit all the experience he accrued over the years with Garryowen — whom he helped to the All-Ireland League and Cup and Munster Cup treble in 2007.
Malone, now 32, has moved on to the player coach role at Bruff. Even though they are without influential full-back Brendan Deady, ruled out by a knee injury, they are still able to call upon 13 of the side that won the title a year ago. They have started Division 1B of the AIL in reasonably satisfactory manner despite losing 34-28 to Ballymena last Saturday.
“We gave away some soft scores in that game, intercepts and charged down kicks, having previously taken a bonus point from a visit to Buccaneers and beaten Galwegians at home,” Malone said. “Reaching the cup final for the second successive year is a great thrill for all concerned with the club and now that we have already won it, the pressure is off and we can really enjoy the occasion.”
On the way to the cup final, Bruff defeated Clonakilty and Midleton before scoring five tries on the way to a thrilling semi-final victory over Shannon. Garryowen, winners of the Munster Cup on 37 occasions, will be anxious to avenge last year’s setback. Ireland scrum-half Conor Murray was a member of that side but even his well taken try wasn’t enough to prevent defeat.
Garryowen’s prospects are not helped by the absence of out-half Declan Cusack, a key man in earlier round wins over Cork Constitution and Dolphin, but required today for Munster’s A game against Connacht in Galway. Coach Paul Cunningham admits he will be a big loss while pointing out: “He wasn’t available for the semi-final against Cashel. Our season so far has been okay and we are a year older from last year’s cup final and hopefully that’s a positive.”
BRUFF: A Cashman; M Cosgrave, B Cahill, J Carroll, T O’Callaghan; T Cahill, E Maher; D Horan, C O’Regan, S Foster, M. O’Connell, A Burke, P Malone, J Shine, M Carroll.
GARRYOWEN: L Bourke; R O’Mahoney, I Hanley, C Hircock, A Gaughan; C Doyle, F Lawlor; J P Cooney, J Rael, D Lavery, F McKenna, M Melbourne, P Neville, K O’Gorman, L Viapula.