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Churchill Cup Preview: Ireland ‘A’ v Canada

Churchill Cup Preview: Ireland ‘A’ v Canada

The Ireland ‘A’ squad’s quest for Churchill Cup glory begins against Canada later today in Glendale, Colorado. Declan Kidney has named a strong team for the game, with captain Isaac Boss one of six senior-capped players in the starting line-up.

2009 CHURCHILL CUP – POOL A: Wednesday, June 10 

IRELAND ‘A’ v CANADA, Infinity Park, Glendale, Colorado, 4.30pm local time/11.30pm Irish time (live Sky Sports 2)

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Team News: Ulster scrum half Isaac Boss will captain the Ireland ‘A’ team in its opening game of the 2009 Churchill Cup tournament against Canada at Infinity Park in Glendale, Colorado.

Ireland ‘A’, coached for the tournament by Declan Kidney and his fellow senior coaches, will begin their Churchill Cup bid against Canada.

The match is the third fixture between Ireland and Canada in the past seven months, following on from the 55-0 win for Kidney’s senior side in Limerick in November and the recent 25-6 summer tour win for the Irish in Vancouver.

Eleven players who took part in that summer tour have remained on for the Churchill Cup and nine of those players are involved the Pool A clash with the Canucks, who opened the tournament with a bonus point 42-10 defeat of Georgia.

In the selected Ireland ‘A’ front row, Bryan Young and Sean Cronin start at loosehead prop and hooker respectively with Tony Buckley, who scored a try in the Test match against Canada last month, selected on the tighthead side.

Donnacha Ryan and Devin Toner make up the second row partnership, while Chris Henry, another member of the summer tour party, is selected at number 8.

John Muldoon, after starting both Test matches against Canada and the USA, is picked among the replacements with Neil Best and Sean O’Brien selected in the starting line-up after helping Northampton and Leinster to recent European success.

Niall O’Connor is handed his first start of the summer at out-half to be partnered by captain for the day Boss, who is one of only two members in the back-line to be capped, with full-back Denis Hurley the other.

Meanwhile, Canadian coach Kieran Crowley has made three personnel changes and one positional switch to his side for the clash with Ireland ‘A’

Canada opened the Churchill Cup with a bonus point 42-10 victory over Georgia on Saturday – their first ever pool win in the tournament.

Crowley leaves the forwards untouched other than slotting in Dan Pletch at loosehead prop after his weekend arrival. Kevin Tkachuk has a slight leg injury. 

Phil Mack will start at scrum-half, with Ed Fairhurst moving to the replacements bench, while Justin Mensah-Coker gets his first start since joining up with the squad, taking a spot on the right wing.

James Pritchard, who impressed from place-kicks against Georgia, replaces Sean Duke on the left wing, while Matt Evans, the scorer of two tries against Georgia, will take Pritchard’s spot at full-back.

IRELAND ‘A’: Denis Hurley (Cork Constitution/Munster); Fionn Carr (Galwegians/Connacht), Fergus McFadden (UCD/Leinster), Keith Matthews (Buccaneers/Connacht), Johne Murphy (Leicester Tigers); Niall O’Connor (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Isaac Boss (Ballymena/Ulster) (capt); Bryan Young (Ballymena/Ulster), Sean Cronin (Buccaneers/Connacht), Tony Buckley (Shannon/Munster), Donnacha Ryan (Shannon/Munster), Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster), Neil Best (Northampton Saints), Sean O’Brien (Clontarf/Leinster), Chris Henry (Ballymena/Ulster)

Replacements: Denis Fogarty (Cork Constitution/Munster), Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster), Trevor Hogan (Blackrock College/Leinster), John Muldoon (Galwegians/Connacht), Frank Murphy (Buccaneers/Connacht), Jonathan Sexton (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), James Downey (Northampton Saints).

CANADA: Matt Evans (Hartpury College); Justin Mensah-Coker (Moseley RFC), Ciaran Hearn (Castaway Wanderers), DTH van der Merwe (Glasgow Warriors), James Pritchard (Bedford Blues); Ander Monro (Colorno), Phil Mack (James Bay AA); Dan Pletch (Niagara Thunder), Pat Riordan (University of Victoria) (capt), Andrew Tiedemann (University of Victoria), Tyler Hotson (UBC Old Boy Ravens), Mike Burak (Unattached), Nanyak Dala (Castaway Wanderers), Adam Kleeberger (University of Victoria), Aaron Carpenter (Brantford Harlequins/Coventry).

Replacements: Mike Pletch (Velox Valhallians), Frank Walsh (Dogs RFC), Doug Wooldridge (Cowichan RFC), Jebb Sinclair (Castaway Wanderers), John Moonlight (University of Victoria), Ed Fairhurst (Cornish Pirates), Sean Duke (University of Victoria).

Referee: Matt Goddard (Australia)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Ireland ‘A’ to win: 1/8; Draw: 25/1; Canada to win: 5/1

Pre-Match Quotes: Declan Kidney (Ireland ‘A’) – “The three games in the Churchill Cup tournament will increase the opportunity for pitch time for players, so we felt that it would be important to bring some players on the senior tour and the Churchill Cup.

“I know that players such as Keith Earls and Darren Cave benefited hugely from their Churchill Cup exposure, so this will be a good opportunity for many of the players who have not been involved before.

“We will be playing Canada for the third time in a year with our third different team as well as playing Georgia, who we faced in the last World Cup, so it will be good exposure for the players to Test level rugby.”

Pre-Match Links –

Ireland ‘A’ Prepare For Churchill Cup Tilt

2009 Churchill Cup Launch

Ireland ‘A’ Squad For Churchill Cup Announced

2008: Ireland ‘A’ See Off Pumas To Retain Plate Title

2007: Ireland ‘A’ Dig Deep For Opening Win

Churchill Cup Records – Ireland ‘A’: 2006 – Won Plate final; 2007 – Won Plate final; 2008 – Won Plate final

Canada: 2003 – Failed to quality from Round Robin phase; 2004 – Won Consolation final; 2005 – Lost Consolation final; 2006 – Won Bowl final; 2007 – Won Bowl final; 2008 – Won Bowl final

Recent Form: Ireland ‘A’ – 2008/09: ‘A’ International: Ireland ‘A’ v England Saxons (match postponed due to unplayable pitch); ‘A’ International: Ireland ‘A’ 35 Scotland ‘A’ 10 

Canada: 2008/09: Autumn Test: Portugal 13 Canada 21; Autumn Test: Ireland 55 Canada 0; Autumn Test: Wales 34 Canada 13; Autumn Test: Scotland 41 Canada 0; Summer Test: Canada 6 Ireland 25; Summer Test: Canada 23 Wales 32; Churchill Cup Pool: Canada 42 Georgia 10

Previous Meetings: May 19, 2007 – Ireland ‘A’ 39 Canada 20, Sandy Park, Exeter