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Cork Con's drive for six continues as Bateman Cup reaches semi-final stage

Division 1A giants Lansdowne and holders Cork Constitution are in action on Saturday.

THERE IS THE potential for some big upsets in the Ulster Bank Bateman Cup semi-finals if Division 1A giants Lansdowne and Cork Constitution slip up on their travels on Saturday.

Lying in the wait are Sligo and City of Armagh, who both claimed long-awaited provincial Senior Cup titles before Christmas.

Ulster Bank Bateman Cup semi-finals

Saturday 13 January, kick-off 2.30pm unless stated 

SLIGO (1st, Div 2C) v LANSDOWNE (1st, Div 1A), Hamilton Park, 2pm

Lansdowne in the team huddle Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

The first of two unique semi-final clashes sees two of the Ulster Bank League’s current table toppers face off in Strandhill.

After 11 rounds, Lansdowne are still unbeaten and hold a stunning 13-point lead at the summit, having also claimed the Leinster Senior League trophy against Clontarf in November.

Last winners of the Bateman Cup back in 1931, they will relish an opportunity to break up Cork Constitution’s modern-day dominance of this historic All-Ireland competition.

Mike Ruddock’s men are a daunting prospect, on current form, for any club side, but hosts Sligo have been motoring along nicely at the top of Division 2C and are licking their lips at the prospect of testing themselves against the illustrious headquarters club.

Ross Mannion’s charges created their own piece of history before Christmas when winning Sligo’s first Connacht Senior Cup since 1914.

They claimed the scalp of Corinthians in a hard-fought final. Captained by industrious flanker Shane Boyle, they have the skilful Mike Wells and Ryan Feehily in play-making roles.

The Sligo squad has an average age of 23, and while Lansdowne also boast plenty of youthful talent, they could have the game’s decisive player in former Munster out-half Scott Deasy, if he features again at number 10.

CITY OF ARMAGH (4th, Div 2A) v CORK CONSTITUTION (2nd, Div 1A), Palace Grounds

Cork Con celebrate winning The Bateman Cup Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Having recently relinquished their grip on the Munster Senior Cup, Cork Constitution will want to put up another proud defence of their Bateman Cup crown as they eye an incredible sixth title in as many years.

They have won their last ten matches in the All-Ireland competition, with man-of-the-match Brian Hayes inspiring last year’s 18-13 final victory at Old Belvedere.

City Armagh lie two divisions below Con but are well-coached by Willie Faloon and will play with no pressure on them, promising to ‘give it a lash and hold nothing back’ in their first ever Bateman Cup appearance.

They are set to line out with the same side that secured their maiden Ulster Senior Cup against Ballymena last month, with centre Johnny Pollock and prop Daryl Morton as the only changes from the 17-13 success.

The battle at half-back should be intriguing one as Armagh’s impressive pairing of Cormac Fox and Harry Doyle come up against the experienced Gerry Hurley, who captains Con in the injury-enforced absence of Niall Kenneally, and Aidan Moynihan.

Gavin Duffy and Vincent O’Brien are poised to come back into the visitors’ front row, with influential lock Conor Kindregan, who missed last week’s 26-0 league victory over Buccaneers, fit enough for a bench spot.

The final is scheduled for the weekend of 21/22 April.

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