The Ireland team to play Scotland in the AIB Club International at Donnybrook on Friday (kick-off 7.35pm) has been announced.
The AIB Club International, now into a third season, has proved popular with players and fans alike. The Ireland team to play Scotland in the AIB Club International this Friday includes nine newcomers to the starting side who will be winning their first caps at this level.
David McKechnie, Greg Stafford, Eric Moloney, Max Rantz-McDonald and Ruairi Cushion are all new caps in the back-line and will be guided by the experience of Cronan Healy and Barry Keeshan, who were both part of the squad that played and beat England Counties last year but lost their final game against Scotland in Edinburgh (18-11).
In the forwards, prop Martin Gately is another new cap and will be supported by Simon Shawe and Damien Varley in the front row. Both Shawe and Varley were both involved in last year’s squad.
Former Ireland Under-21 second row Shane O’Connor and back rows John Ed O’Connor and Hugh Hogan are the final new caps in the team.
The game will be televised live on RTE 2 (coverage begins at 7.30pm) and the side will be captained for the first time by Lansdowne second row Alan Maher, who has been part of every AIB Club International side since the first game in 2006.
New AIB Club International coach Brian Walsh said: “This year’s team has a lot of new faces to this level and hopefully that will bring the same sort of enthusiasm that the previous sides have shown. The couple of sessions that we have had have been excellent, so Friday’s game should be another entertaining match, just as the others have been.
“The opportunity to represent Irish rugby at any level is an honour which they are well aware off and is something that many of the players may never have had the chance to gain or to do again, so the AIB Club International is really becoming a goal for many of the players in the AIB League.
“Our aim now is to not only enjoy the game and occasion, but win the game and show the high level of commitment and skill that the club game has to offer.”
Commenting on the AIB Club International, AIB General Manager Maurice Crowley said: “The AIB Club International is a huge opportunity for both the players and the IRFU to showcase the club game at its highest level. At AIB, we are delighted as sponsors of the Club International, to be associated with this game.
“I firmly believe that it’s a fantastic initiative for all club players and I look forward to the game this Friday night, in what I hope will be an excellent weekend of rugby for Ireland.”
IRELAND TEAM & REPLACEMENTS (v Scotland, AIB Club International, Donnybrook, Friday, February 22, 2008, kick-off 7.35pm):
15 – David McKechnie (Greystones)
14 – Cronan Healy (Cork Constitution)
13 – Greg Stafford (Lansdowne)
12 – Eric Moloney (Dolphin)
11 – Max Rantz-McDonald (Clontarf)
10 – Barry Keeshan (Dolphin)
9 – Ruairi Cushion (Old Belvedere)
1 – Martin Gately (Highfield)
2 – Damien Varley (Garryowen)
3 – Simon Shawe (Ballymena)
4 – Alan Maher (Lansdowne)
5 – Shane O’Connor (Cork Constitution)
6 – Simon Crawford (Clontarf)
7 – John Ed O’Connor (UL Bohemians)
8 – Hugh Hogan (St. Mary’s College)
16 – Des Murray (Cork Constitution)
17 – Rob Sweeney (St. Mary’s College)
18 – Merle O’Connell (Cork Constitution)
19 – Peter Malone (Garryowen)
20 – Sam Cronin (UCC)
21 – Alan Kingsley (Garryowen)
22 – Andrew Finn (Shannon)
Friday, March 9, 2007 – Scotland Club XV 18 Ireland Club XV 11
Friday, February 23, 2007 – Ireland Club XV 20 England Counties 17
Friday, March 10, 2006 – Ireland Club XV 30 Scotland Club XV 13