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Armagh confident ahead of their bid for historic double

rugby Bateman Cup final

Willie Faloon
Willie Faloon

by michael sadlier

City of Armagh can carve out a piece of history for themselves should they lift the All-Ireland Bateman Cup in today's final against Garryowen in Dublin (kick-off 12.30pm).

The Palace Grounds side, who qualified for the competition as Ulster Senior Cup holders, have already achieved a first by just making it to the final where they will clearly be underdogs at the neutral St Mary's College Templeville Road ground.

Last season, Armagh exited at the semi-final stage to Cork Constitution in what was a notably successful campaign which also saw coach Willie Faloon's squad gain promotion to Division 1B in the AIL and lift the Senior Cup for the first time.

And after a rather disappointing finish in this season's AIL which saw them end up in eighth, after see-sawing up and down the 1B table, Armagh are hoping to sign off on a high note by securing a cup double and bringing the Bateman Cup back to the Palace Grounds to sit in the cabinet with the retained Ulster Senior Cup.

It will certainly not be an easy task against Munster cup holders Garryowen, who finished mid-table in Division 1A, and, though Armagh appreciate the steepness of the challenge, they are certainly planning to give their all.

Armagh assistant coach Chris Parker said: "The players are really looking forward to it. They've worked hard to get here and they intend to make sure they make the most of it.

"It would be fantastic if we could bring the Cup home. The Senior Cup is already at the club and it would be great to add another one to sit alongside it."

The squad have certainly not ducked discussing what can be achieved if they pull off a result against the Limerick side.

"The players have been very open about this game," said Parker. "It really is a chance for them to make history and they're only too aware of that."

Even though it is the end of the season, and Armagh are not favourites to get their hands on the trophy, there is a belief that the Ulster side can become the first team from north of the border to win this piece of silverware since Ballynahinch a decade ago.

Parker maintained: "We still believe we have a big performance in us, albeit it is the end of the season now. And we also believe in our ability to potentially pull off a bit of a shock."

Even though they lost heavily at Old Wesley last weekend in the final round of regular season AIL games, there were enough encouraging signs in the team's performance to bring south with them for today's shoot-out for silverware.

"Our performances in the league have been up and down but last Saturday's effort was a lot more pleasing and mentally we're in a good place going into this final," added Parker.

"The boys are ready for one last hit-out and are looking forward to it."

As Armagh's place in 1B was already safe from any relegation concerns - they could not finish any lower than eighth in the table - last weekend saw Faloon rest several players ahead of today.

James Hanna and James Morton are expected to return, while skipper Chris Colvin comes back from injury.

Armagh are also expecting some decent support from the Palace Grounds faithful for the game which will also be shown live on RTE.

Armagh defeated Buccaneers at the Palace Grounds to make it this far, while Garryowen, who were also playing at home, narrowly got the better of last year's winners Lansdowne.

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