As the AIB League kicks off this weekend, club players will be hoping to put in their best performances with the news that the management team for the AIB Club International side has been confirmed.
The selected squad is part of the AIB/IRFU Community Rugby Programme that was launched last season and it gives non-contracted club players the opportunity to win representative honours for Ireland and to showcase the club game at the highst possible level.
The AIB Club International team will play two fixtures this season against England and Scotland. Ireland will entertain an England Counties XV at Donnybrook (kick-off 7.35pm) on Friday, February 23, and travel to Scotland (venue tbc) for a clash with their Celtic cousins on Friday, March 9.
Following on from the successful first appearance of the Club International side last March - the Irish claimed a 30-13 victory over their Scottish counterparts at Donnybrook - the same coaching set-up will be at the helm once again. This will consist of coach Geoff Moylan (Buccaneers), manager Mick Galwey (Shannon), assistant coach Gerald McCarter (City of Derry) and assistant manager Donal Brennan.
As with last season's team, this year's side will be selected by the management team from an enlarged squad that will be based on the recommendations of AIB League club coaches. This will be in addition to the input of a four-man panel of selection advisors that include Hugh McCaughey (Dungannon), Finbarr Dennehy (UCC), Stephen Rooney (Lansdowne) and Ciaran Smyth (Corinthians).
This will be the final year that this particular management team will be together, as from the 2007/08 season, the manager, coach and assistant coach position will be strictly for a one season term only. This is to ensure that approriately qualified managers and coaches from all AIB League teams are all afforded the opportunity to be involved with the team.
The panel of selection advisors are appointed for a maximum of two seasons to allow for information and selection continuity experience.
...Ireland Club players Fiach O'Loughlin, David Quinlan and Marc Warburton with AIB's Rhoda McDonagh...
The criteria for player eligibility for the AIB Club International side is as follows:
Players must be eligible to play for Ireland and they must play club rugby in Ireland
Players who are not eligible for selection are:
All players contracted to the IRFU professional teams, including development players, all designated Club professional players, no full-time professional player who was contracted for more than three years and members of this season's Ireland Under-21 team