Wednesday 23 October 2019

Cup wins give Cookies and Con a timely boost

AIL Focus

Cork Con celebrating their AIL triumph last season. Photo: Sportsfile
Cork Con celebrating their AIL triumph last season. Photo: Sportsfile

Reigning champions Cork Con begin the defence of their Energia All-Ireland League Division 1A title when they take on Garryowen in the big Munster derby at Temple Hill tomorrow.

Cork Con have crept up on Shannon in the roll of honour and last May they claimed a sixth crown with an impressive 28-13 victory over Clontarf at Aviva Stadium.

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Cork Con were the inaugural winners of the league way back in 1991 and with five titles since then, they are the dominant force in Irish club rugby again.

They will face Young Munster in the Munster Senior Cup final after last week's semi-final against Highfield (23-17), their final opponents beating Cashel 26-7 in the other last-four clash.

Garryowen are the Bateman Cup holders following their 45-21 demolition of City of Armagh in April's decider.

However, they finished fifth in the Division 1A table last season and along with Young Munster (who were seventh), have plenty of room for improvement if they are to catch Cork Con at the summit.

Young Munster welcome Clontarf to Tom Clifford Park and UCC are away to Dublin University at College Park. UCC finished second from bottom in the standings but avoided relegation thanks to a play-off victory over Old Wesley.

Shannon dropped to Division 1B where they will be joined by promoted Highfielde. Shannon host Old Belvedere at Thomond Park on Saturday while last term's Division 2A champions are at home to Malone in Woodleigh Park.

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There will be huge Munster interest in Division 2A where Cashel, UL Bohemians, Old Crescent, Dolphin and Nenagh Ormond all do battle.

UL Bohs take on Old Crescent in the Limerick derby at UL while Nenagh Ormond face Rainey OB at New Ormond Park.

Cashel are desperate to make the step up this year having just missed out last season. They lost to Navan in the play-off after they finished second.

The other all-Munster tie sees Dolphin and Cashel clash at Irish Independent Park.

The rest of the Munster teams take their places in Division 2C after Sunday's Well dropped out of Division 2B in 2018-19, having finished bottom with 14 losses.

Sunday's Well will look to bounce right back but are joined in Division 2C by Midleton, who came close to promotion last season, Bruff and Clonmel.

Sunday's Well go to Upritchard Park to face Bangor. Bruff are also away, against City of Derry at Judge's Road. Clonmel welcome Omagh to Ardgaoithe while Midleton are away at Alcast Park where they take on Enniscorthy.

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