As one of the enormous names in Irish rugby union, Cork Constitution was unstoppable in the previous decade.
While they have yet to rekindle that form that saw them lift over half of the All-Ireland Cups throughout the 2010s, they have yet to get off the ground in the 2020s. Granted, there has only been one final that has been played to completion so far this decade. However, it is still quite a fall from grace for a team that continued to look so dominant.
Although some Cork fans will point out that they have been unable to put out their strongest starting squad of 15 players due to a number of their best talents moving into the professional rankings with Munster. Irrespective of that, though, the Constitution have been able to field strong teams, and their excellent rugby union heritage has been able to steer them through this difficult change. Six of their All-Ireland wins came in the 2010s decade, which highlights just how dominant they were throughout this period, regardless of any issues that might hold them back.
Throughout this period, Cork Constitution remained the favorites for the All-Ireland Cup, they were by far the best team, and even in the seasons when they didn’t lift the trophy, they often went into the season as favorites with the sports bookmakers. Sports betting has always enjoyed a big following in Ireland, and although there are more significant markets for Munster games or when Ireland plays in the Rugby World Cup, there is a growing trend for rugby fans looking to bet on games considered a lesser standard.
Over the last decade, gambling companies have aimed for niche market areas to attract new customers. The All-Ireland Cup is one area where they have succeeded, as the popularity dwarves that of the national rugby side or the URC (United Rugby Championship). Another area where gambling companies have had success finding a unique avenue is in the world of cryptocurrency, where sportsbooks and casinos have developed a pathway for gamblers to use digital assets to place bets on rugby or roulette poker, and blackjack. Bitcoin gambling continues gathering momentum, and there’s been an increase in the number of markets opening up for casino enthusiasts and people who enjoy betting on rugby union. Over the next few years, it’s predicted there will be an explosion in popularity for cryptocurrency gambling companies that provide markets for various sports and casino games.
However, the standard in the All-Ireland Cup is still exceptionally high. With so many players from Cork going on to become full-time professional players, as we have already discussed, this highlights exactly why there is so much ability within the league and cup structure.
If Cork can start building a nucleus of a squad that could push for their eighth All-Ireland Cup within the last two decades, it’ll propel them right back into contention. With just a few tweaks to their current squad, and if they’re able to keep hold of talented players like Jack Crowley, there’s not much more that the iconic club should need to do in their quest to get back amongst the top teams competing for that coveted All-Ireland Cup. After Landsdowne’s emphatic victory in last year’s final, there was a lot of talk about how they may go on to recreate the sort of incredible run of wins that we saw Cork pull off last decade.
However, as with all All-Ireland winners, professional rugby union comes beckoning, and it understandably doesn’t take much for players to leave. The immensely talented Sam Prendergast has one foot out the door, hoping to be part of an Ireland squad that can make history and win the World Cup.
Cork is a team still in the process of becoming a rising power again. After the nucleus of their fabulous group from the 2010s was gutted and dissected, they essentially had to start from scratch. Despite the incredible heritage and history of the Constitution, the eternal struggle will always come from provincial sides and other professional clubs to swoop in and pick the best talent.
You only need to explore a list of the top players in provincial squads like Connacht to get a clearer idea of how clubs that regularly compete for the All-Ireland will cultivate these players and harness their natural talent, only for them to be cherry-picked and moved elsewhere, and this is the most frustrating part for those of us that enjoy watching the All-Ireland final between teams that should be operating at the peak of their powers.
Cork has suffered this fate arguably worse than any club at the minute, and it will take a while for them to rekindle that form that made them so formidable just a few years ago. We’d be surprised to see them lift the All-Ireland Cup again in the next couple of years, but stranger things have happened.