Nerves should not be a problem for Shannon’s David Quinlan when he leads out the Irish side in tonight’s AIB Club International against the English Counties at Donnybrook (kick-off 7.05pm).
Nor should the onerous role be too much of a burden for the county Tipperary man who has a huge record of being a skipper. He captained Shannon when they won the AIB League Division One title in 2002 and also to a few Munster Senior Cup wins. He was also the skipper of the Irish Colleges XV and many other sides.
“But it is a great honour to be given the captaincy of the Irish club side for the second year in a row. I am looking forward to the game and we have a terrific bunch of players,” Quinlan admitted.
As a schoolboy at Abbey CBS in Tipperary, he was an outstanding hurler and played Dr. Harty Cup in a side that was “walloped in the first round!”
But Quinlan also says that he was born into rugby. “My father Andy was prominent in the Clanwilliam club and introduced my first cousin Alan – the Munster and Ireland flanker – and myself to the game when we were about thirteen.”
Training, according to the Shannon number 8, has “gone very well” for tonight’s game. “We had a good session on Wednesday and we had two light sessions yesterday.
“We all get on well together and we had a great night at the greyhound racing at Shelbourne Park on Wednesday as part of the bonding process. We had great fun but unfortunately I didn’t win any money,” he conceded.
His thoughts on the England Counties team? “Like almost everybody else, I don’t know a great deal about them. But they have had a couple of games and I believe that Matthew Leek, who was contracted to Leinster for a spell, will be in their side. All I know for definite is that they are totally amateur.
“Of our side, I’d have a great playing knowledge with the half-backs – Fiach O’Loughlin and Andrew Thompson. We all played together with Shannon.
“And we also have two brothers, Kevin and Conor Hartigan in the squad,” he said.