'Form goes out window in Cup battles with Con'
Garryowen captain Rory Brosnan, began his playing days aged seven at Youghal RFC before going on to boarding school at Rockwell College, where he won a Munster Schools Senior Cup medal in 2001.
His rugby career continued at Garryowen, where he claimed his most memorable rugby achievement, the All-Ireland League and Munster Senior Cup double in 2007.
"We won every competition that year and the Juniors also claimed the Munster Junior Cup to complete our Grand Slam. It was a culmination of an incredible season for the club and it really stands out for me personally," he says.
Working and residing in Cork, Brosnan travels to Dooradoyle two to three times a week to train and, as a proud Garryowen man, he doesn't see the commute as much of a chore.
"I went to Garryowen as a young person and it helped develop me into a man," he says.
"I made many friends there over the years and am proud to be part of the club. I have thought about playing for a team closer to home, but when you get to my age, you just want to go into a dressing-room where you feel you belong -- and Garryowen is where I want to be."
Speaking ahead of next Friday's ODM Financial Munster Senior Cup final against old rivals Cork Constitution, Brosnan says both Garryowen and Cork Con have become very familiar with each other down through the years, with the Cork outfit winning the most recent fixture by three points in the AIL last month.
"I'd know some of the Con lads very well. I was room-mates with their captain Gerry Hurley and out-half Darragh Lyons at Rockwell and played with them throughout my school years. I also played with Gerry at Garryowen for many seasons before he moved to Cork," Brosnan recalls.
Despite a disappointing AIL season so far -- Garryowen are bottom of Division 1A -- Brosnan says that will not be on their minds going into the final.
"Obviously, it's not ideal, we're on a run of eight losses, but that said, against Con, it's probably 50-50 in our meetings over the years and there's always only one score between us," he says.
"For a Senior Cup final, it's a case of form going out the window. We will be evenly matched and it will be a superb game."
Brosnan says that playing at Thomond Park, will not necessarily be an advantage for Garryowen.
"They would have played in Thomond Park as many times as us so neither side will be on more familiar territory than the other," he says. "I suppose the only inconvenience for them might be that they're travelling up from Cork but I'm doing the same thing so I don't think it's really going to make a huge difference."
Brosnan says Garryowen have a young squad and he is confident the path to the final will stand to them.
"I'm the grand-dad in a way, which is shocking!" he says. "I remember when I was making it on the senior team there were lots of guys in their 30s -- now, playing at 29 years of age, there's one guy older than me.
"Unfortunatel we lost a lot of players from last year -- probably 10 of the squad -- for various reasons.
"We have a catchment area for both Munster and Connacht and some of our club players are involved on the periphery of both squads, which means at times we cannot field our strongest side. Other than that, it's the problem of emigration or even players moving to Dublin for work. Post-Christmas we have guys coming back from injury so I'm confident we will improve."
Coached by former Munster and Ireland scrum-half Tom Tierney with Paul Murphy assisting with the backs and Paul Neville looking after the forwards, Brosnan says his side will be well prepared for the final.
"What's great about our coaches is that they are all former players and are all relatively young. They know what it takes to win trophies and they've been there themselves. They all genuinely care about the club," he says.
As they prepare for next Friday's challenge against the reigning title holders, Brosnan says taking the cup back to Dooradoyle is always a target.
"It's the one we like to chase and with 38 titles we have won it more than anyone else. You'd notice how special it is amongst the older members who right now are really excited about us making it to another final," he adds.
"Obviously, at the start of the season, you say you want to win the league, but the Munster Senior Cup is always a target too.
"It's the silverware that's got the most history behind it and being a Munster competition you get a chance to knock off your more traditional rivals like the Cons, the Shannons and so on.
"There is rarely more than a score in a Garryowen versus Cork Con match and hopefully we will end up on the right side of the result."
First round: v UL Bohemian, Won 35-15 (Annacotty)
Second round: v Midleton, w/o (Templehill)
Semi-final: v UCC, Won 21-11 (Mardyke)
First round: v Richmond, Won 70-10
Second round: v Cashel, Won 20-5 (Spafield)
Semi-final: v Shannon, Won 20-17 (Thomond Park)