Athy take on Portarlington in this year’s Hosie Cup Final which will be played on New Year’s Eve in Athy RFC (KO: 2pm)…

The fact that none of the more established local teams are involved shouldn’t take from the fact it has the makings of a competitive and entertaining game.

The Hosie Cup was established by the North Midlands Area in 1967 as a means of giving competitive rugby to local teams in the days when the Provincial Towns Cup, which didn’t begin until February back in those days, was the only competition in which they could compete.

It served its purpose well down through the years but lost some of its lustre with the introduction of the Leinster League in the mid-90’s, especially as this fledgling contest quickly became the staple diet for clubs the length and breadth of the province.

After a brief state of chassis the Hosie Cup was reinvented as a vital preparatory tool for the Leinster League and to this day this serves as its chief purpose, giving the local clubs meaningful competitive fare in September before the main event commences.

The final is traditionally staged over the Christmas holidays and the fact that it’s returning to Athy Rugby Club is a throwback to when it was always held there.

This was because the trophy was donated by Bill Hosie, a stalwart of the club, and the Area felt that as the club also had all the facilities in place to host a big game then that’s where it should be held.

However after a while the final was moved around the clubs and now it’s back in Athy for the first time since Cill Dara beat Clane in the 2003/04 decider.

Both teams had to beat opposition from higher Divisions to make the final with Portarlington seeing off Newbridge, Portlaoise and North Kildare while Athy overcame the challenge of Clane, Cill Dara and Clondalkin.

Portarlington’s 26-25 win away in Rosetown over Newbridge was the catalyst for their success, as Newbridge’s subsequent achievements in Division 1A where they lie in a challenging fourth position has franked that early season form.

Portarlington currently are second in Division 2A, having only lost for the first time this season in their last League match at Roscrea a fortnight ago.

Athy are also second in their League, which in Division 2B is a tier below Saturday’s opponents.

Athy’s stand out result was their 49-23 hammering of Cill Dara, a team two Divisions above them and also going well in their League.

And it just wasn’t the defeat but the manner of that win that stood out as the south Kildare club came from 23-0 down at half time to absolutely blow away their visitors after the break.

With both clubs enjoying fruitful League campaigns a good game is in prospect, and as ever, you could do a lot worse when trying to shake off the excesses of Christmas than going to Athy next Saturday

*The Lalor Cup Final (J2) will act as the warm up game preceding the Hosie Cup Final and will feature Clondalkin and Portlaoise in a game that kicks off at 12 noon.