Dromore ready for All Ireland Junior Cup showdown

Dromore Coaches Jeremy Ogle, Jonny Cullen and Jamie Kirk with captain Adam McGregor with the MMW Ulster Junior Cup. Photo by John Dickson / DICKSONDIGITAL
Dromore Coaches Jeremy Ogle, Jonny Cullen and Jamie Kirk with captain Adam McGregor with the MMW Ulster Junior Cup. Photo by John Dickson / DICKSONDIGITAL

Dromore are hoping to lift the All Ireland Junior Cup for their first time in their history as they face County Tipperary side Kilfeacle in the final at Coolmines, Dublin.

Dromore won the Ulster Junior Cup last season and are top of Championship Division 1, and coach Jamie Kirk is hoping they can bring that big game mentality to the decider.

“It’s a massive occasion for us to get through to the final, I think the competition from the first round at home we had Newcastle West we sort of targeted it, this was new and exciting,” said Kirk.

“There has been a buzz after each round we have got through, the semi final we were down in Crosshaven just past Cork, to go away and experience the over night stay and win in Munster that was massive for the club and a huge occasion for the players.

“It’s all building up nicely now for the final, we have sort of tried to park it away for a couple of weeks over the Christmas period and now it’s nice to finally bring it back and the excitement is building.”

Dromore edged out Ballynahinch 2s 22-19 in last season’s Ulster final and Kirk says they will draw on that experience.

“We’ll take a good bit of confidence from that and playing at the Kingspan there was a big crowd that night,

“It was a tight match and we’re expecting another one, it will come down to whatever team is more clinical on the day and hopefully we can draw on the experience of some of the big games we have played in over the last year and the Junior Cup would be one of those.”

Kirk was pleased with his side’s response to a 28-0 defeat at Ballyclare as they beat Cooke 52-0 last Saturday.

“Ballyclare was a real set back but we knew it was one match,” he said.

“It’s never easy to accept losing by that margin but to walk off the pitch and know you didn’t perform makes it easier to say we need to react to this and that’s what we got the following week.

“The attitude and intensity was brilliant and we needed to bounce back with point to prove, the performance against Cooke was better and it was a really good result and that has given us a boost in terms of confidence.”

Kilfeacle lost the 2018 final and are top of their league going into the clash with Kirk’s side.

“We’ve never played them,” said Kirk.

“We know they are going well and they are top of the Munster league and have won nine out of nine, they have good form in the league.

“In this competition they have had all home draws and they pride themselves on making it a fortress down there.

“In terms of their team we’re expecting them to be like any Munster side physical up front, well organised, to compete hard at the set piece and at the breakdown,

“The big thing for us is we know a lot of their game is centred around their out-half (Willie Staunton) and we expect him to try and control the game and he has a good kicking game, he’s a goal kicker as well.

“We’ll focus on ourselves to get our own performance right.”

Centre Josh Pentland could be one of Dromore’s key players in the final.

“There is a nice balance within the team, guys like Josh have done brilliant this year just not in terms of his playing experience but also what he has brought in terms of coaching,” said Kirk.

“Even just his manner in terms of how he communicates with the players is fantastic and he has a lot of respect in the playing group and the club and with his ties with the school the town, it has been great to have him in and he has 11 seasons in All Ireland rugby.”

Dromore’s pack are boosted by the return of hooker Fraser Mulholland, flanker Pete Elliot and front rower Andrew Black.