Somebody from the south is going to be a winner at the Aviva Stadium tomorrow afternoon. Even if Cork Constitution are dethroned as Ulster Bank League champions in an eagerly awaited decider against Lansdowne (3pm), there will be celebrations down in the seaside town of Crosshaven.
Scott Deasy is the league’s highest points scorer this season and with his Lansdowne colleague Eamonn Mills carry the “red” flag into this final between two clubs that have been to the forefront of Irish rugby for decades.
There’s a lot of respect there, particularly from former Constitution star Deasy, who is seriously worried that Lansdowne face a backlash for their recent Bateman Cup final victory in Temple Hill, a win that ended a remarkable five year reign by the Cork club in that competition.
Deasy is also a former Munster pro; he played alongside the likes of Peter O’Mahony, Simon Zebo and Duncan Williams, but he has no hesitation in saying that the amateur ranks are good for him.
“What you’ve seen in the last four or five years is amazing,the game evolves so quickly that what’s being played professionally is totally unrecognisable from what I played. I have very fond memories of my time there but I’ve no regrets about when I finished.
“I’m happy enough where I am.”
Tomorrow the big deal could be between the two number 10s, Deasy and Tomás Quinlan, with Deasy saying: “Well, I don’t know him that well although I played against him a number of times. He’s obviously deadly with the boot as well, so we’ll be trying to limit his opportunities.”
One way or another, Deasy is a fan of Irish club rugby.
“I think the club game is massively important to Irish rugby. I’m quite interested in history and I think the tradition of the likes of Cork Con and Lansdowne, and some of the other big clubs, is very interesting.
“I’d like to contribute to that and keep myself up to date on what the histories and traditions are. But I think it is quite difficult when you’re so focused on being a professional and that’s taken away from you, to balance that with your own personal enjoyment.
“It’s brilliant in terms of what the club provides for us. So we have Mike Ruddock and Mark McHugh too, who are two highly established coaches. We have a nutritionist available to us if needs be. We have an S&C coach. Our J1s have a really good coaching ticket as well. We have a director of rugby and chairman of rugby who look after things behind the scenes. We’ve got food provided for us on a Thursday night after training.
“So all of those things take away a lot of the worry or the hassle or the thinking from the player, so we can just turn up on Tuesday and Thursday nights, do our training and then if we’ve got to do gym Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday - not that I make many of them - there’s that option as well.”
Constitution clearly feel they are in the same league. It’s all to play for, according to club skipper Niall Kenneally.
“We are doing really well. We’re delighted to be back in the final again, it has been another very good season, a great one for the league once again, very exciting to the end, the hunt for the top four play offs went right to the wire again and then last week, Lansdowne and ourselves beat good opposition to book a place here Sunday.
“We will be doing everything we can now to finish the season on a high. It was disappointing to lose the Bateman Cup; look we had a very good run in that competition and I suppose it had to come to an end at some stage, we went out, performed ok, but ok is not really good enough in finals, especially against strong sides like Lansdowne, we will make a few little adjustments from that game and hopefully we will come back stronger.”
E Mills, F Horan, H Brennan, M O’Keeffe, A Leavy, s Deasy, A Bennie, P Dooley, t Moran, I Prendiville (captain), J O’Rourke, J Dwan, J O’Sullivan, A Connelley, W Earle.
J Rael, N Mpiko, B Fitzpatrick, C Rock, C Rock, I Fitzparick, G McGrath.
S Daly, L O’Connell, a McHenry, N Kenneally (captain), R Jermyn, T Quinlan, J Higgins, B Quinlan, V O’Brien, G Sweeney, B Hayes, C Kindregan, E Mintern, J McSwiney, L Cahill.
D McCormack, G Duffy, d Murphy, R O’Neill, JJ O’Neill, s Duffy, G Hurley.
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