Big Rugby Action on Saturday

This coming Saturday, all eyes are on a titanic struggle for the ultimate accolade.

Amlin Challenge? Munster vs Brive?  Pshaw!

Heineken Cup?  Leinster vs Leicester?  Pfff!!

No.  Neither of those.  On Saturday, we see Bruff travelling to Templeville Road for the final of the  Bateman Cup against Dungannon.

The last time a Limerick team won the Bateman Cup was in 1928, when Young Munsters beat Lansdowne 6-3, and a scurrilous rumour is doing the rounds that they never gave the cup back.

When you ask Young Munsters supporters about this, their faces cloud over and they mutter unintelligible grunts.  In other words, they show no unusual behaviour.

I put it to a man of advanced years, who played for Young Munsters back in the late fifties.

Did your crowd steal the Bateman Cup?


Did your crowd steal the Bateman Cup?

What?  Speak up.


Mind your language you young pup.  And there’s no need to shout.


I sent an email to a regular commenter on this site who also happens to be a fervent YM true-believer.

Did Young Munsters give the cup back?

He replied:

My lips are sealed, well and truly, with the fat from a pigs hock.

Oh beautiful beautiful Munsters. Star of my own fade away.

You’re wasting your time.  One old campaigner claimed that UCD stole the cup just before World War 2 broke out, and that was the last anyone saw of it.

I don’t know.  It’s a wall of silence and obfuscation, but anyway, here we are again, with a Limerick team vying for the Bateman Cup.

Interestingly, the game is being played in the grounds of St Mary’s, a team who lost an epic encounter with the wild men of Young Munsters in 1993 for the AIL title.  Brent Pope played for St Mary’s and he broke Brossie’s jaw with a punch, but unfortunately for him, Young Munster had no shortage of extravagantly talented Brossies, and another one came on to replace his injured brother.  Ger Earls, father of Keith, played for Young Munsters that day before a record crowd of 20,000, and I was one of them.

Tomorrow, we hope to see Limerick reclaim the Bateman Cup after 83 years, so forget Munster vs Brive in the Amlin Challenge.   Forget the Grand National.  Forget Leinster vs Leicester.

Tomorrow is a day in history.



Bruff 24 Dungannon 18.

After 83 years, the Bateman Cup returns to Limerick, or, eh, stays in Limerick legally, or …

ah, never mind.







Bruff Win Munster Senior Cup

SINCE 2006, I reckoned that seeing Munster win their first Heineken Cup in Cardiff was and would remain the most joyful sporting experience I would ever encounter. I was delighted to have my father at my side to embrace when the final whistle blew as it had been he who first brought me to Munster games and introduced me to rugby.

For us, the final in Cardiff in 2006 felt like the end of a long journey that had started many years before but in earnest in 2000 when Munster had reached their first European final. It was the sense of having accompanied the players all the way on this journey that made it all the more satisfactory when they claimed what was rightfully theirs after so much heartbreak.

Yesterday’s events though were a reminder that my father and I started a journey long before Munster Rugby became the juggernaut it is today and they also surpassed he 2006 Heineken Cup Final for the most exhilarating sporting event I have ever experienced.

For yesterday Bruff – my club since I was 8-years-old and only a senior club since 2004 – won the Munster Senior Cup, beating Garryowen, one of the oldest and most decorated clubs in the country.

And for all the excitement and undoubted pride I felt in watching Munster climb to the peak of European rugby in 2006, it just couldn’t compare to how it felt to watch our team do something that even at the start of this year would have been considered somewhat preposterous and a few years back, plain impossible.

The difference is this. I grew up idolising the Munster players whereas I grew up with the Bruff players.

I went to school with some of them, made my confirmation with a few of them, continue to train with them, won with them, lost with them and went on the piss countless times with them. And yesterday I could share in my fellow club members’ joy more than I ever could have with a Munster team of professionals, none of whom I know personally.

This isn’t a jab at Munster either, I remain a staunch supporter of the provincial side and will attend as many of their games in the future as my wallet will allow. But Munster, by its nature of being a professional team of elite athletes, could never inspire the emotions in me that Bruff did yesterday.

Just as in 2006, my father and I attended the game and afterwards he showed a rare giddiness that I didn’t see in him four years ago. He was incredulous that the tiny club he had joined in the 70s could have won a competition that for decades was the most tightly contested in the country.

After reaching two finals and coming so close to claiming the Heineken Cup over the years, I suppose it wasn’t a shock to him that Munster had finally won at the third attempt.

But Bruff? Winning a Munster Senior Cup? As the trainers told the players at the end of training on Thursday night, “Up until now, that’s just been unheard of.”