Cork Rugby: Whole new ball game as Garryowen visit cruelly denied Highfield

Cork Rugby: Whole new ball game as Garryowen visit cruelly denied Highfield

Kelvin Brown and Conor Glynn of Shannon line up a tackele on Miah Cronin of Highfield in the AIL at Thomond Park. Picture: Don Moloney

BACK in early March, Highfield would have been rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of the mighty Garryowen coming to town in late September.

The Cork club were heading for promotion to energia All-Ireland League Division 1A with only four games remaining before Covid-19 arrived to scuttle everything.

Instead of a historic top-flight league game at Woodleigh Park tomorrow, Highfield meet the Light Blues in a new competition, the energia Community Series.

Effectively it’s a provincial league split into two conferences and is a gap-filler to the energia All-Ireland League, which, this season, takes on a different hue of one round of fixtures, nine games in all, beginning in January, 2021.

Leinster and Ulster also have two conferences with Connacht having one section of five teams.

The gradings were based on provincial and national league standings from last season, which was declared null and void in March following the Coronavirus outbreak.

There are eight teams in Munster Conference 1, Cashel, Cork Constitution, Garryowen, Highfield, Old Crescent, Shannon, UCC and Young Munster.

There’s one less in Conference 2, comprising Bruff, Clonmel, Dolphin, Midleton, Nenagh Ormond, Sunday’s Well and UL Bohemians.

There will be one series of games, starting tomorrow and taking in four rounds next month and two more in November.

And the Community Series has been linked to the Bateman Cup with the three Conference 1 winners in Munster, Leinster and Ulster and the Connacht winners progressing to the semi-finals.

The draw has also been made and it resulted in the Munster winners taking on Connacht and Leinster facing Ulster.

There’s also the introduction of two other Bateman competitions, the Plate and Shield.

This will be played for by the teams who finish second in Conference 1 with the same draw of Munster v Connacht and Leinster v Ulster.

The Shield competition is for Conference 2 clubs and will feature the winners in Munster, Leinster and Ulster as well as the third-placed team in Connacht.

It’s expected those games will be played in December in advance of the All-Ireland League.

Teams will become quite familiar with one another as many of the sides will also square up in the national league in the New Year.

For example in Conference 1, Con, UCC, Garryowen and Young Munster form part of division 1A in the All-Ireland League and it’s the same for Highfield and Shannon in division 1B.

Conference 2 also has games featuring clubs in the same sections in the AIL, like Dolphin, Nenagh Ormond, UL Bohs and Old Crescent in division 2A and Midleton, Sundays Well, Bruff and Clonmel in division 2C.

The Munster Senior Cup kick-started the season with Con relinquishing their grip on the title in a 27-17 defeat by Young Munster. Vincent O’Brien, Max Abbott and Richard Cassidy scored Con’s tries.

Highfield are the lone Cork representatives in the semi-final against Garryowen in December following their 32-15 victory over UCC, when Chris Bannon scored two tries and Mark Dorgan and Paul Stack one apiece.

FIXTURES 2.30pm unless stated

TODAY

Dennehy Cup Final: Cork Constitution v Mallow, Woodleigh Park, 7.30pm.

TOMORROW

Energia Community Series Conference 1: Cork Constitution v Old Crescent, Temple Hill; Highfield v Garryowen, Woodleigh Park; Shannon v Cashel, Thomond Park; Young Munster v UCC, Tom Clifford Park.

Conference 2: Bruff v Sunday’s Well, Kilballyowen Park; Dolphin v Midleton, Musgrave Park; Nenagh Ormond v Clonmel, Nenagh.

Munster Senior Clubs League Division 1: Cork Constitution v Old Crescent, Temple Hill, 4.30pm; Highfield v Garryowen, Woodleigh Park, 4.30pm; Shannon v Cashel, Thomond Park, 4.30pm; Young Munster v UCC, Tom Clifford Park, 4.30pm.

Division 2: Bruff v Sunday’s Well, Kilballyowen Park, 4.30pm; Dolphin v Midleton, Musgrave Park, 4.30pm; Nenagh Ormond v Clonmel, Nenagh, 4.30pm.

O’Neill Cup Semi-Final: Ballincollig v Kinsale, Tanner Park, 7.30pm.

SUNDAY

Cork County Cup Semi-Finals: Crosshaven v Bandon, Crosshaven; Mallow v Clonakilty, Mallow; O’Neill Cup Semi-Final: Charleville v Mitchelstown, Charleville;

McElligott Cup Final: Killorglin v Tralee, Killorglin.

Muskerry Cup Final: Muskerry v Sunday’s Well, Ballyanly, 12pm;

Galwey Foley Cup Final: Castleisland v Chorca Dhuibhne, Castleisland.

McGillycuddy Cup Final: Listowel v Killarney, Listowel.

Junior Friendly: Douglas v Dungarvan, Castletreasure; Muskerry v Old Christians, Ballyanly.

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