On Friday night Blackrock College will face Old Belvedere in the Leinster Senior League Cup Final in Donnybrook (KO: 7pm)…

Blackrock College RFC…

The Leinster Cup campaign began in early September with a last minute defeat to Lansdowne (21-17) on the back pitch at Lansdowne Road. A home win against this evening’s opponents Old Belvedere (21-12) followed and the defeat of Bective Rangers (28-22) completed the group stage.

The quarter finals threw up the old enemy Terenure where a tightly fought match was won 37-31. Entering November there were back to back (a la Heineken Cup) encounters with St. Mary’s. A one point defeat in AIL fixture but revenge in a tension filled victory 25-22 at Stradbrook the following Saturday to claim a place in this evening’s final.

Blackrock College RFC last won the Leinster Cup in 2000 defeating this evening’s finalist’s Old Belvedere in the final. Current Leinster captain Leo Cullen captained the ‘Rock side on that day. This is only the third occasion that Blackrock College has met Old Belvedere in the Leinster final; the first being in 1941 when Old Belvedere prevailed.

This young Blackrock side is coached by Eric Miller and Ben Mannion and captained by Cian Culleton, a ‘Rock man through and through who is having an excellent season in the blue and white. An all under 20 back row is benefitting from the experience of veterans Des Dillon and Alex Dunlop. Allied to an ever improving back line, the team is beginning to gel as the season progresses.

With both clubs having a challenging season in the AIL, this evening’s encounter provides a welcome boost. As stalwart supporter Fr. Tom Nash has been heard to say at Grace in a pre-match lunch “may we have a sporting, injury free match and may ‘Rock win…”

Old Belvedere RFC…

Whilst Old Belvedere’s path to this year’s Leinster Cup Final is known and documented elsewhere, it is worth a mention here before the reasons for optimism at Anglesea Road are presented.

Old Belvo beat Terenure, Lansdowne with a bonus point, lost to Blackrock and defeated Clontarf in the semi-final. The bonus point gained against Lansdowne proved to be important. Arising from all this, we now face our long-standing rivals and relatively near neighbours, Blackrock College R.F.C. for the second time in the competition.

This meeting means that we will have played one another four times this season, between Cup encounters and the home and away AIL fixtures.

While Old Belvedere have not yet hit top form in the AIL, there is one thing that the Anglesea Road outfit thrives on and that is Leinster Senior Cup finals, particularly against Blackrock. The famous seven-in-a-row, going back to the 1940’s, is always discussed whenever the opportunity arises and this is just such another occasion.

The average age of the squad has reduced significantly since last season, due to some retirements and departures to other lands but the replacements are now well established and have been well encouraged for the occasion by their longer-standing team mates and the Club management and supporters. All at Anglesea Road are looking forward to the occasion.