Lans­downe look to have fi­nal edge over Cork Con

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - RUGBY - GAVIN CUMMISKEY

Cork Con­sti­tu­tion v Lans­downe Aviva sta­dium, to­mor­row, 3.0 Live RTÉ Two For some, the All-Ire­land League fi­nal rep­re­sents a step­ping stone into the pro­fes­sional ranks – Joey Car­bery be­ing the best ex­am­ple in re­cent times. For oth­ers it’s a long over­due re­ward after a pun­ish­ing am­a­teur sea­son.

“We talk about player de­vel­op­ment all the time,” says Lans­downe coach Mike Rud­dock, “Tadhg Beirne would have played in the last fi­nal we reached.”

Lans­downe has long pro­vided a round­about route for play­ers not give clean pas­sage from the Le­in­ster academy into pro­fes­sional ranks.

“Ab­so­lutely. Our play­ers see Tadhg do­ing what he is do­ing for Scar­lets and it gives them be­lief to go on and do it them­selves. And there are play­ers not picked up by the academy sys­tem, like Craig Ron­ald­son and Matt Healy, who have since been con­tracted by Con­nacht after per­form­ing well for Lans­downe. Clive Ross went up to Ul­ster, Tom Far­rell went to Bed­ford and now he is back play­ing well for Con­nacht. It’s a good show­case for play­ers from Lans­downe and Con.”

It’s also the pin­na­cle of some am­a­teur ca­reers. A few play­ers re­main, de­spite the game’s in­creas­ingly un­for­giv­ing na­ture, who still just want to play rugby. “Scott Deasy would be one of those,” said Rud­dock. “He’s got a Masters un­der his belt since leav­ing pro rugby and he’s adapted to a man­age­ment role with Ac­cen­ture. He’s quite happy with the club game but a lot of the young­sters see this as an op­por­tu­nity to get into pro rugby es­pe­cially after putting in some much ef­fort.”

Deasy is a for­mer Cork Con and Mun­ster out­half.

“There’s only a hand­ful of play­ers I played with who are still there,” he re­mem­bered this week. “My gen­er­a­tion would have kind of been Pete, Zebo, Archer, Billy, Duncan and then Sherry, Mur­ray and Kil­coyne would have been in the Lim­er­ick con­tin­gent. I have a young fam­ily now and I’m work­ing away, so I’ve prob­a­bly a bet­ter bal­ance in my life. I don’t re­ally get too much time to think about rugby. I just go out and play and en­joy it.”

Tal­ented school­boys.

There’s also a sprin­kling of fully pro­fes­sional play­ers on view, like Le­in­ster loose­head Peter Doo­ley re­plac­ing the in­jured Marty Mul­hall, while Lans­downe wingers Foster Ho­ran and Adam Leavy (younger brother of Dan) have played Ire­land Sev­ens as has Cork Con full­back Shane Daly. Sev­eral oth­ers on view were se­ri­ously tal­ented school­boys.

“I think the club game is mas­sively im­por­tant to Ir­ish rugby,” added Deasy. “It’s a long old slog in terms of we started last July and it’s only in May when the sil­ver­ware is on the line, so it’s great to be here now and in con­tention against a team like Con, who have been here year in, year out it seems to be for the last three or four years. We’ll see what we can do on Sun­day.”

Last month Lans­downe gath­ered sil­ver­ware at the ex­pense of Con win­ning a sixth con­sec­u­tive Bate­man Cup. More of the same is ex­pected but the Cork men are not go­ing to give up both tro­phies without bit­ter re­sis­tance.

“We’re de­lighted to be back in the fi­nal again,” said Con cap­tain Niall Ken­neally. “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 as very good run in that com­pe­ti­tion and I sup­pose it had to come to an end at some stage, we went out, per­formed okay, but okay 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.”

Adult tick­ets for IRFU HQ are 10 while un­der-18s are free.

Ver­dict: Lans­downe. CORK CON­STI­TU­TION: Shane Daly; Liam O’ Con nell, AlexMc Henry, Niall Ken ne ally( ca pt ), Rob J er myn; Tom as Quin­lan, Ja­son Hig­gins; Brendan Quin­lan, Vin­cent O’ Brien, Ger Sweeney; Brian Hayes, Con or Kind re­gan; Evan Min tern, Joe M cS winey, Luke Ca hill. Re­place­ments: David Mc Cor­mack, Gavin Duffy, Dy­lan Mur­phy, Ross O’ Neill, J JO’ Ne ill, Sean Duffy, Jerry Hur­ley LAN SD OWN E: Ea mon nM ills; Foster Ho ran, Harry Bren­nan, Mark O’ Ke­effe, Adam Leavy; Scott D easy( ca pt ), Alan Ben­nie; Peter Doo­ley, Ty­rone Moran, Ian Pr en di ville; Josh O’ Rourke, Jack D wan; Jack O’ Sul­li­van, Aaron Con neely, Wil­lie Ear le. Re­place­ments: James Rael,Nt inga Mpiko, Barry Fitz­patrick, Char­lie Rock, Char­lieMc Mick an, Ian Fitz­patrick, Greg McGrath. Ref­eree: David Wilkin­son( I RF U ).

PHO­TO­GRAPH: DAN SHERI­DAN/INPHO

Cork Con­sti­tu­tion’s Niall Ken­neally and Lans­downe’s Ian Pren­diville

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