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Dublin: 10 °C Monday 18 March, 2019
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Lansdowne stand in the way of Cork Con's remarkable six-in-a-row bid

The two clubs meet in Saturday’s Bateman Cup final at Temple Hill.

Scott Deasy is set to play a big role for Lansdowne.
Scott Deasy is set to play a big role for Lansdowne.
Image: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

CORK CONSTITUTION ARE hoping home advantage can help them to a record sixth straight Ulster Bank Bateman Cup title tomorrow afternoon [KO 1pm, RTÉ2], with one of their former favourites, Lansdowne out-half Scott Deasy, plotting Con’s downfall on Leeside.

Deasy, Division 1A’s top scorer this season with 196 points, will captain Lansdowne as they go in search of the club’s first Bateman Cup success since 1931.

Cork Con are the competition’s modern-day kingpins, but Lansdowne also have a rich pedigree with four titles between 1922 and 1931.

This is actually a repeat of the inaugural Bateman Cup decider which Lansdowne won 6-5 at Lansdowne Road in April 1922, although Con’s Jack Sweeney had a try controversially ruled out.

Neither side will want it to come down to refereeing decisions in what is the first leg of a potential All-Ireland League and Cup double for both.

The talismanic Deasy will lead Lansdowne with regular skipper Ian Prendiville missing out through injury.

Fellow Corkman Eamonn Mills continues to impress in attack and defence as the headquarters club’s fullback, while Mark O’Keeffe and Alan Bennie are among the leading try scorers in the top flight with nine between them this season.

There will be plenty of Ireland sevens talent on display at Temple Hill, with Lansdowne’s Bennie, Foster Horan, Adam Leavy and Ian Fitzpatrick, who could make a big impact off the bench, coming up against Cork Con’s Alex McHenry and Shane Daly.

Alex McHenry Cork Con's Alex McHenry. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Fitzpatrick and Daly were part of the Irish team that lost out to Japan in the recent World Series qualifying tournament in Hong Kong.

Up against Deasy and Bennie at half-back will be Tomas Quinlan and Gerry Hurley, the wily pairing who have had a key influence on trophies coming back to the Con clubhouse in recent years.

20 points from 23-year-old Quinlan’s classy left boot in last year’s league final saw them do the double, while Hurley, who turns 34 next month, is back in the famous white jersey after a two-year stint with Rugby Olympique de Grasse in France.

Fireworks are expected at set-piece time, with both clubs traditionally very strong in the scrum, lineout and maul.

Brian Hayes and Conor Kindregan keep producing the goods in Con’s engine room, with their extended squad for the final also including Munster’s Darren O’Shea and Evan Mintern.

You would be hard pressed to find a finer Ulster Bank League servant than Gorey man Willie Earle, who has made 126 league appearances for Lansdowne. He is on a collision course with Con’s own industrious number eight Luke Cahill.

Unsurprisingly, given the closeness of these teams on paper, it was one home win apiece during the league’s regular season.

Cork Con players celebrate after winning a decisive penalty in injury time The game takes place at Temple Hill on Saturday. Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

Lansdowne, who impressively topped the table by 10 points, were 24-10 winners over Con on the Aviva Stadium’s back pitch in October. Deasy played a starring role, kicking four penalties and converting his own 77th-minute try for a 19-point haul.

An early Hayes penalty and Quinlan’s 20 points from the tee did the damage in March’s return match at Temple Hill, as Lansdowne went down 25-13 in only their second defeat of the league campaign.

Con overturned Old Belvedere’s home advantage in last season’s Bateman Cup decider, and it just might be Lansdowne’s turn to take the venerable trophy back to the capital for the first time since Blackrock College were winners in 1939.

Cork Constitution (from): Barry Galvin, Greg Higgins, JJ O’Neill, Liam O’Connell, Rob Jermyn, Shane Daly, Alex McHenry, Niall Kenneally (capt), Tomas Quinlan, Jason Higgins, Gerry Hurley; Gavin Duffy, Brendan Quinlan, Ger Sweeney, Dylan Murphy, Paddy Casey, Vincent O’Brien, Jack McHenry, David McCormack, Brian Hayes, Conor Kindregan, Darren O’Shea, Joe McSwiney, Ross O’Neill, Sean Duffy, Evan Mintern, Luke Cahill.

Lansdowne XV: Eamonn Mills; Foster Horan, Harry Brennan, Mark O’Keeffe, Adam Leavy; Scott Deasy (capt), Alan Bennie; Martin Mulhall, Tyrone Moran, Greg McGrath, Josh O’Rourke, Jack Dwan, Jack O’Sullivan, Aaron Conneely, Willie Earle.

Replacements: James Rael, Ntinga Mpiko, Barry Fitzpatrick, Gareth Molloy, Charlie McMickan, Ian Fitzpatrick, Adam Boland.

Referee: George Clancy (IRFU)

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