Friday 23 March 2018

Ruddock expecting 'another big battle' ahead of Dublin derby final

Lansdowne coach Mike Ruddock is relishing the opportunity of dethroning champions Clontarf
Lansdowne coach Mike Ruddock is relishing the opportunity of dethroning champions Clontarf
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

The strength of club rugby in Dublin was underlined once again this season in Division 1A of the Ulster Bank League.

For the last four years, a side from the capital has claimed the title and next weekend, that will become five when Clontarf and Lansdowne compete in the final at the Aviva Stadium.

The welcome return of the play-off system proved its worth in the titanic battle between Lansdowne and Young Munster. Extra-time was needed to separate two sides that had finished 22 points apart in the league standings.

Young Munster were the only team outside Dublin to finish in the top six, which is indicative of where the power lies in the club game in this country.

Tomorrow week, the two best teams over the last two years will go head to head in what promises to be another pulsating clash.

Clontarf will be bidding to defend their title against the side who won it in 2013.

Lansdowne coach Mike Ruddock believes that his players will have learned a lot from their last-gasp win against Young Munster and he is relishing the opportunity of dethroning the champions.

"We've won the league where we were consistently good, but that was knock-out rugby where every thing you do becomes twice as heightened - particularly when you make a mistake," he said.

"I think the lads learned a lot, which should put us in good stead for the final.

"We've had a few good battles with Clontarf over the years and they've been very, very tight.


"We won the league two years ago, they won it last year. Overall you've the two best teams of the last few years going at it so it'll be another big battle and this gives us an insight into what to expect."

Having finished 12 points ahead of second-placed Terenure, Lansdowne have been installed as the favourites for the Dublin derby, and their talismanic captain Ron Boucher is mindful of the fact that they have already come through a few tight games this season.

"We trusted ourselves and we're very lucky to be in the final so all bets are off against Clontarf," the powerful No 8 maintained.

"We've had a lot of close games this year that we've come out on the right side of, like Terenure up here and few others that we managed to squeak past.

"Hopefully we haven't run out of luck, it's been a great squad effort all year and we'll all be really looking forward to the final now. It'll be great to play on this pitch in a final."

Boucher was also quick to point to the impact that the younger players had in the semi-final victory and he is hoping for more of the same against 'Tarf.

"I thought Cian Kelleher was outstanding. We had loads of young guys doing well, like Conor McKeown, who is with Connacht.

"There is an element of physicality in the Ulster Bank League that they wouldn't get coming from underage rugby and we got that against Young Munster," he added.

All roads lead to the Aviva Stadium and regardless of where the trophy ends up, one thing is for certain, the supremacy will remain in Dublin.

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport