Con look to confirm league form in final
The pairing of Cork Con and Clontarf in this afternoon's AIL final at the Aviva may not present the prospect of a new name on the trophy, but it reflects accurately the state of the game at the top end of Irish club life.
Along with champions Lansdowne, these are the clubs who toe the line every autumn with a sunny day in May as their target. And here they are again.
You have to go back to St Mary's in 2012 for the last title winner outside of this trio. So Trinity's involvement in the semi-finals held out the prospect of some change at the top. A slim enough prospect given they were away to Con at the height of exam season. They expected to get a seeing to that day up front but in fact held their own in what was a fine game. You could put the defeat down to playing a cuter side who have a solid bank of experience of winning games that matter.
In the other semi, Clontarf beat Lansdowne on grass having won on astro against them the previous week in Lansdowne Road. Those performances confirmed a side who have found form when against Terenure the previous week it was nowhere to be seen. Con for their part have been the most consistent team in the competition, winning more games than anyone else and finishing a whopping 13 points clear of Clontarf in the regulation phase of the competition. They beat 'Tarf home and away en route to that position.
But, as both clubs have discovered in the past, topping the table and winning the league are not always one and the same.
It had been expected that in the build-up to this afternoon's final that new sponsors Energia would be confirmed as partners for the AIL, though that has been bounced back a bit - the announcement, not the deal.
Seemingly, they are still finalising the creative side of a plan that will see them weigh in heavily behind the competition. To those familiar with the AIL, they will appreciate that it has lots to offer. Being backed now by a company prepared to promote that message can only be good.
Clontarf: J Power; M Courtney, S O'Brien, M Darcy, C O'Donoghue; D Joyce, A Lloyd; I Soroka, P Finlay, R Burke-Flynn, C Daly, B Reilly, Tony Ryan, M Noone (capt). A Darcy. Replacements: D Adamson, Tom Ryan, Vak Abdaladze, B Deeny,
International Rugby Newsletter
Cork Constitution (from): G Duffy, V O'Brien, D Murphy, B Hayes, E Mintern, J McSwiney, K Sheahan, L Cahill, J Higgins, A Moynihan, R Jermyn, N Kenneally (capt), S French, S Daly, L O'Connell, P Casey, B Quinlan, J Murphy, A McHenry, R O'Neill, D Williams, J Wren, C O'Flaherty, G Higgins, D Hyland, M Abbott.
Referee: J Erskine (IRFU)
Sunday Indo Sport