18 May, 11:09
IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne has issued a statement following confirmation of Ronan O'Gara's decision to retire from playing professional rugby.
* Clontarf lost the services of 15 players from their 2004/05 squad last summer - including Shane Moore (Boston), Dave Hewitt (Paris) and David O'Brien (Cambridge University). But the north Dubliners recruited well with centre Breiffne O'Donnell (UL Bohemians), scrum half Fiach O'Loughlin (Shannon), and back rows Jacob Ellison (New Zealand) and Jamie Heaslip (Dublin University) joining the club.
* A younger brother of the departed David, Peter O'Brien interestingly joined 'Tarf last summer from Saturday's opponents Cork Constitution. The 23-year-old O'Brien, who operates at full back or out-half, came up through the ranks from PBC Cork to UCC to Con, with representative honours earned with the Ireland Under-19s and Under-21s.
* Former Skerries winger Derek Keane, who certainly packs a punch at 6ft and 15st, has had a brilliant debut season. He has been Division One's top try scorer in 2005/06 with 13 tries.
* O'Donnell, O'Loughlin, Keane, winger Niall O'Brien and prop Rob Sweeney were all capped in Ireland's AIB Club International win over Scotland in March. O'Brien scored the third and final try for the Irish, wrapping up a 30-13 triumph at Donnybrook.
* This is coach Phil Werahiko's fifth year in charge of Clontarf. Assisted by former Leinster player Kevin Nowlan, he guided 'Tarf through to 2002/03 Division One final - they lost it 28-18 to Ballymena at Lansdowne Road.
...Galwegians winger Peter Phelan tries to keep Clontarf's Niall O'Brien in check during the sides' recent AIB League meeting at Castle Avenue...
* Prop Johnny Wickham is this season's Clontarf captain. A former Belvedere College student, Wickham turned 23 in March and was capped in recent seasons by both the Leinster and Ireland Under-21s.
* 2005/06 has already seen silverware grace Castle Avenue thanks to last month's 23-16 Leddin Finance Leinster Senior Cup final defeat of St. Mary's at the RDS.
* Clontarf are on an amazing 10-game winning streak in the League. Ironically, that run began with a 23-16 triumph over Saturday's opponents Cork Con at Castle Avenue back in December. 'Tarf have only lost once at home in the League this season - 28-29 v UL Bohemians in October.
* Saturday will mark Clontarf's fourth Division One semi-final appearance in five seasons - they lost in the semi-finals to eventual champions Shannon last year. Scrum half O'Loughlin was in opposition back then as Marc Hewitt scored the capital side's only try in a 21-11 defeat. On the way to the 2002/03 decider, 'Tarf beat Buccaneers by 20-6. They also lost their 2001/02 semi-final to Shannon (15-12).
* 'Tarf averaged nearly four tries per game in the AIB League proper this season with 58 tries scored in 15 outings. They conceded 22 in all - 11 before and after Christmas.