10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations match in February, while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
England are strongly tipped to retain the crown they won last season but Ireland, fielding a much stronger team this term, will be hoping to again overcome England at the Athlone venue where they have lost just once in four seasons.
Allen Clarke's side had decent wins in their opening games away to Italy and particularly at home to France, whom they also defeated when they were Grand Slam champions two seasons ago.
Tickets for Friday's encounter are on sale now at The Bounty, Musicworld and Keenan Sports outlets in Athlone, and are also available at Noel Mannion Sports in Ballinasloe and Harten's Newsagents, Moate.
Cash will also be taken at the turnstiles on match night. The pre-match function, at which RFU Director of Elite Rugby Rob Andrew MBE., is guest speaker, is already sold out.
Supporters are urged to come along early - and to note the early kick-off time of 6.15pm.
There will be musical entertainment from 5.45pm and also at half-time, when Tag rugby will also be played. So, come along and cheer on Ireland!