Joe Carbery’s class to prove crucial for Clontarf’s AIL title ambitions
All-Ireland League final: Clontarf v Cork Constitution, Aviva stadium, Sunday, 2.30pm – RTÉ 2
Clontarf captain Ben Reilly and Cork Constitution captain James Ryan with the trophy ahead of the All-Ireland League final. Photograph: Inpho
Bridesmaid five times, these next 80 minutes should calmly unveil Clontarf’s second marriage to the All-Ireland League title with their clever amalgamation of veterans and potential professionals.
Cork Con shall aggressively object but a scan through the bulls of north Dublin demands an addition to their solitary title in 2014. Victory would also herald the dynasty building required to wash clean blood stains from 2015, ’12, ’09, ’06 and ’03. Cork Con are not without moments of despair and regret but their seven runner-up finishes are countered by four titles, the last of which came six long years ago.
The cupboard is not yet another Bateman Cup captured last weekend after win over Galwegians.
This conundrum will be solved by packs and place-kickers. Clontarf seem to have an edge up front with brothers Bryan and Thomas Byrne joined by veterans like captain Ben Reilly and former Leicester Tiger Mick Noone along with Tony Ryan, who was capped on merit by Leinster against Scarlets last October. Joey Carbery should kick their goals but Con outhalf Tomas Quinlan has superior numbers (170 points playing 134).
Clontarf winger Mick McGrath soared into the professional ranks with Leinster last season but on return to amateur ranks he has ran in 14 tries.
The Cork men are not without their own firepower in former county hurler Darren Sweetnam, Niall Kenneally at centre and nippy Munster academy scrumhalf Ryan Foley proving a constant threat around the fringes.
The club game needs a final of relevance. And it can be. Just look at the flourishing talent on show. Young props Bryan Byrne and Vakh Abdaladze (the powerful Georgian is still under-20) with Carbery and Quinlan should use this as a stepping stone to future employment.
Ultimately Carbery’s class should prove the difference.
CLONTARF (possible): R Keogh; M Brown, C O’Brien, M D’Arcy, M McGrath; J Carbery, S Cronin; I Soroka, B Byrne, V Abdaladze; T Byrne, B Reilly (capt); M Noone, K Moran, T Ryan.
CORK CONSTITUTION (possible): D Sweetnam; A Spring, N Hodson, N Kenneally, R Jermyn; T Quinlan, R Foley; G Duffy, M Abbott, R Burke; B Hayes, C Kindregan; G Lawler, J Murphy, J Ryan (capt).
Referee: Andrew Brace