Bateman Cup semi-finals
Saturday, 12 January (both 2.30pm kick-offs)
City of Armagh v Buccaneers, Palace Grounds
CITY OF ARMAGH, who lifted the Ulster Senior Cup for the first time last season, get another bite at the Bateman Cup cherry after losing 20-13 to Cork Constitution at this stage twelve months ago.
Last Saturday’s five-try 31-15 win over Rainey Old Boys was topped off by captain Chris Colvin’s intercept try and sent Armagh through to the Ulster decider on 8 February.
Turning their attention to this prestigious All-Ireland Cup competition, Willie Faloon’s men are hoping to set up a second final appearance in quick succession. However, an equally ambitious Buccaneers side stand in their way, the clubs having met for the first time ever in the league just last month.
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Two-try full-back Callum Boland’s man-of-the-match performance helped Buccs to a 24-17 win over Armagh in Athlone, but the Pirates ended 2018 bottom of the Division 1B table with Faloon’s charges flying high in second place. Buccs have found the Bateman Cup tough going, losing semi-finals in 2012, 2015 and 2017.
Kieran Joyce’s controversially-awarded last-minute penalty saw the midlanders pip Corinthians 16-14 last week, securing their third Connacht Senior Cup in four years.
Peter Claffey is an injury doubt for the trip north, and although Martin Staunton and Rory Moloney are sidelined, they should have a strong team out with Luke Carty, Rory O’Connor and Niall Farrelly set to come back in.
Carty’s individual battle at out-half with Cormac Fox will be one to watch. Armagh are expected to pair Jonny Pollock with Evin Crummie in midfield as skipper Colvin is unavailable. The hosts’ selection up front is boosted by returning back rower Robbie Whitten, while lock Peter Starrett is set for his first run-out since being included in the Ireland Club international squad.
Garryowen v Lansdowne, Dooradoyle
Lansdowne head coach Mike Ruddock. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO
Garryowen are hoping to conjure up a repeat of October’s 17-14 triumph at home to Lansdowne, a game in which forwards Liam Cronin and Sean Rennison both touched down.