Blackrock College have named a settled side, boasting the likes of Shane Byrne, Des Dillon and current Leinster player Gary Brown, for Saturday’s AIB Cup final showdown with Shannon (Dubarry Park, kick-off 3.30pm).
2007/08 AIB CUP FINAL: Saturday, April 12
BLACKROCK COLLEGE v SHANNON, Dubarry Park, kick-off 3.30pm (live RTE Two)
Click here for a full match preview
Fionn Carr has recovered from a hamstring injury to take his place in the Blackrock team for Saturday’s cup decider.
The Leinster Academy full-back, who has amassed 163 points in this season’s AIB League and Cup, missed ‘Rock’s 17-16 league win over Clontarf last time out.
But the 22-year-old is set to play a central role for ‘Rock this weekend as they strive for their first AIB Cup title. If they succeed, they will become the first Leinster winners.
Carr is seen as very good prospect within Leinster rugby and he made his senior debut for the province against Glasgow Warriors in October.
Carr’s Leinster Academy colleagues, Royce Burke Flynn (21), Kyle Tonetti (20) and Shane Monahan (20), have also been named in the ‘Rock team for the Shannon game.
Tonetti and Monahan were members of last year’s Ireland Under-20 Grand Slam-winning squad, while David Moore, Paul Ryan and Niall Morris all played for Ireland at U-20 level this season, with flanker Ryan the captain.
Players like Burke Flynn, Tonetti, Moore, Morris, Ryan, David Madigan, Kieran Moloney, David Rowan and Zach Farivarz have come up through Blackrock’s Under-20 Academy.
Their U-20 system is something which ‘Rock are especially proud of, according to current senior captain Des Dillon.
He told IrishRugby.ie: “There’s a great Under-20 team there. They’ve been very consistent over the last couple of years, they’ve got some great coaches there.
“It’s great to see that when you’re up in the senior squad and you see young guys coming through all the time.
“It’s always going to be helpful for Blackrock, as a senior team going forward, if their U-20s are doing well and that’s the way it is at the moment. So we’re delighted with that.”
Dillon, the former Connacht and Leinster forward, has helped form an experienced spine to the ‘Rock side, along with current Leinster squad member Gary Brown and former Ireland and Lions hooker Shane Byrne.
Asked about the potential match winners amongst his team-mates, Dillon added: “We’ve got some strong runners in Fionn Carr, Shane Monahan and Davy Rowan. Of course, Shane Byrne is always going to chip in with a try or two.
“But we’re not going to care where the tries come from, if we can get tries. As long as we come out the other end with the cup, we’ll be delighted.”
This is a special year for the Stradbrook club. They are celebrating their 125th year in existence.
With a who’s who of former internationals and Lions players in their record books and a recent Lion in the centre of their scrum, ‘Rock could be about to add to their already proud history.
Meanwhile, with several injuries to contend with, Shannon coaches Mick Galwey and Ian Sherwin will not finalise their starting team for Saturday’s AIB Cup final until the morning of the game.
Going into last weekend’s semi-final against Galwegians, they already had a significant injury list with AIB League veteran Andrew Thompson (centre), Colm McMahon (flanker) and Kevin Griffin (prop) not involved in the game. All three would have considered first choice players.
Thompson pulled a quad muscle in the AIB league game against UCD and is definitely ruled out of the final, but McMahon (shoulder) and Griffin (neck) are included in the squad despite the fact that their injuries continue to cause concern.
To add to the selection woes Killian O’Neill (prop) and Richie Mullane (centre) were both forced off in the semi-final win and are also doubtful starters, while replacement centre Joe Manuel picked up an ankle injury playing in a Munster Junior Cup game last Saturday.
Fergal Walsh withdrew from training on Thursday evening nursing a dead leg which may be serious enough to rule him out.
O’Neill (hamstring) and Manuel did resume training on Thursday but took only a limited part while Mullane (calf) has not trained at all this week and is a serious doubt.
With Thompson definitely out, Mullane highly doubtful and Manuel 50:50 at best, Under-20 centre Mike Kinsella has been called up to the squad and will, at the very least, be part of the 22-man matchday squad.
All players who are in doubt will be given every opportunity to prove their fitness which effectively means that Shannon will not know their team until Saturday at around 12pm.
15 – Fionn Carr
14 – Shane Monahan
13 – Gary Brown
12 – Brian Canavan
11 – David Rowan
10 – Kyle Tonetti
9 – David Madigan
1 – Kieran Moloney
2 – Shane Byrne
3 – Royce Burke Flynn
4 – Des Dillon (capt)
5 – Paul Huntley
6 – Paul Ryan
7 – Zach Farivarz
8 – Paul Graham
16 – Sean Byrne
17 – James Mannion
18 – Jayden Hill
19 – Owen Cullen
20 – David Moore
21 – Simon Morrissey
22 – Alan Henry
Coaches: Barry Gibney, Emmet Farrell
Assistant Coach: Ray Ward
Manager: David Boyd
15 – Andrew Finn
14 – David O’Donovan
13 – Richie Mullane/Joe Manuel/Mike Kinsella
12 – John Clogan
11 – Stephen Kelly
10 – Mossie Lawlor
9 – Fiach O’Loughlin
1 – Killian O’Neill/Les Hogan
2 – Sean Cronin
3 – Gary McNamara/Kevin Griffin
4 – Padraic O’Brien
5 – Fergal Walsh/Francis Broderick
6 – Phil O’Connor
7 – Leonard Mullane/Colm McMahon
8 – David Quinlan (capt)
Replacements to be confirmed
Coach: Mick Galwey
Assistant Coach: Ian Sherwin
Manager: Niall Cowhey
Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (Munster)