Monday 20 November 2017

Clontarf set sights on back-to-back AIL glory

Mick McGrath. Photo: Sportsfile
Mick McGrath. Photo: Sportsfile Sportdesk

Cork Con will aim to use a year's worth of hurt when they look to dethrone reigning champions Clontarf at the Aviva tomorrow (2.30).

'Tarf edged a pulsating encounter against Con in last year's decider, and although the Cork side won their fifth consecutive Bateman Cup last weekend, this is the one that they really want.

It has been seven years since Con last won the AIL, and even though they can't call on the likes of Peter O'Mahony and Simon Zebo - both of who started in 2010 - they still have plenty of quality in their side.

'Tarf were slow out of the traps this season as they missed Joey Carbery, but Andy Wood's men really found their form and certainly go into tomorrow's decider as favourites.

Con will look to take the game to the Dubliners up front and their powerful pack will have to be on it if they are to have any hope of bringing the Cup back to Leeside.

Wood's side posses an explosive back line and the likes of Conor O'Brien, Matt D'Arcy and try-scoring machine Mick McGrath (pictured) will all pose a serious threat to the Con defence.

While Carbery and Darren Sweetnam's absence will no doubt be felt, Leinster's Mick Kearney starts in the engine room for 'Tarf, while Bryan Byrne is on the bench.

Con are likely to start with an all Munster Academy front-row in Liam O'Connor, Vincent O'Brien, Rory Burke.

With one win apiece during the regular season, tomorrow's decider is finely poised but 'Tarf's experience at this stage may well edge what should be another cracking advert for club rugby in Ireland.

Verdict: Clontarf

Irish Independent

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