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Guinness Pro 14 chiefs unconcerned by Scottish Cup final clash



John Cooney

John Cooney

�INPHO/Dan Sheridan

John Cooney

Organisers insist that they are unconcerned that this season's Guinness PRO14 final will take place on the same day as the Scottish Cup decider in Glasgow.

The football showpiece will take place at the 51,866-capacity Hampden Park early in the afternoon of May 25, with the rugby final being held 5km away in the 60,832-capacity Celtic Park in the evening.

That will inevitably put pressure on hotel beds in the city, while it also raises security concerns for fans - particularly if Celtic and Rangers negotiate their way to contest the final.

Three years ago the PRO14 final clashed with the Edinburgh Marathon when it was held in Murrayfield and fans of Connacht and Leinster struggled to find accommodation.

However, PRO14 chief executive Martin Anayi is confident the city can handle the two fixtures.

"We've worked with the city and the police and they are pretty happy with the two events being in two separate parts of the city," he said.

"I believe the kick-off for the Cup final will be earlier in the day, it's to be confirmed when that will be, but our kick-off will be around 5.30pm/6pm and there will be time in between.

"We're working closely with the police and the organising committee to make sure it goes off without a hitch."

Despite moving the game to a new venue, the PRO14 are confident of attracting a big crowd to Celtic Park and they shifted 3,000 tickets in the first hour of yesterday's pre-sale.

They are determined to move the decider into new territories after the Aviva Stadium held the last two finals, with SRU chief operations officer Dominic McKay suggesting Cape Town could soon play host to the game.

He also dismissed the notion of any acrimony between the Scottish and Irish unions in the wake of Dan McFarland's move to Ulster from Gregor Townsend's backroom team.

"We've got a brilliant relationship with the IRFU," he said. "Rugby is a competitive environment, players and coaches move. We have respect for the IRFU, we wish Dan every success. He was great for Scotland."

The PRO14 is launched in Glasgow today, with scrum-half John Cooney the only Ulsterman honoured at last night's awards dinner when he was named in the 2017-18 Dream Team.

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Last season's finalists, Leinster and Scarlets, both had the most players named with five each.

Guinness PRO14 Dream Team 2017-18: Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh); Jordan Larmour (Leinster), Nick Grigg (Glasgow), Hadleigh Parkes (Scarlets), James Lowe (Leinster); Rhys Patchell (Scarlets), John Cooney (Ulster); Rob Evans (Scarlets), Torsten van Jaarsveld (Cheetahs), Andrew Porter; Scott Fardy (both Leinster), Tadhg Beirne; Aaron Shingler (both Scarlets), Callum Gibbins (captain, Glasgow Warriors), Jack Conan (Leinster).

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