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Ireland ‘A’ Team Named For Churchill Cup Final

Ireland ‘A’ Team Named For Churchill Cup Final

Jonathan Sexton has been named at out-half in the Ireland ‘A’ team for Sunday’s Churchill Cup final clash with England Saxons (Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, Colorado, kick-off 2.30pm local time/9.30pm Irish time).

There are seven changes to the Ireland ‘A’ team for Sunday’s Churchill Cup final from the side that won last time out against Georgia.

The Irish side secured two bonus point wins in Pool A, over Canada (30-19) and Georgia (40-5), on the way to the final.

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Declan Kidney and his Ireland coaching staff have continued to rotate the squad during the tournament to give vital experience to the players and to allow them to look at the players up against international opposition.

With some players having already featured during the senior tour, the Ireland coaching staff has again opted to vary the selections and this is the third different team that has taken the field in Denver, with four of those changes for Sunday’s encounter in the back-line.

Felix Jones retains his place at full-back and is joined in the back-three by Denis Hurley who starts on the right wing instead of Simon Keogh, who will now act as scrumhalf cover on the bench.

Johne Murphy is selected on the left wing for the third consecutive game and Keith Matthews returns to the starting team at centre in place of James Downey.

Isaac Boss returns at scrum half and partners Jonathan Sexton, who, after coming on in both games against Canada and Georgia, starts at out-half.

Chris Henry comes into the team at number 8 in place of John Muldoon, who moves to the replacements, with blindside flanker Neil Best being named as captain of an Ireland side for the first time.

Devin Toner, man-of-the-match in the opening game against Canada, returns to the second row in place of Trevor Hogan.

The final change in the team is at hooker, where Sean Cronin swaps places with Denis Fogarty to start the game, with Fogarty named amongst the replacements.

Commenting the final and the benefit of the tournament to his players, head coach Declan Kidney said: “Sunday is a massive challenge for the team to play the defending Churchill Cup champions, but one they are all looking forward to.

“England has huge strength in depth and could easily put out another two or three sides of similar strength, so it will require a really good performance from us.

“The Saxons has been impressive in their first two games and I am sure they will want to retain their title which will give them a three-in-a-row.

“Our games in the Churchill Cup and the senior tour were all about exposing the players to international level rugby and also allowing the coaches to work with the players more closely.

“The previous two games allowed us to do that and it has been a good experience for all of us.”

Neil Best, the captain for Sunday’s clash, said: “It’s a great honour for me to captain the team and I was delighted when Declan asked me to do the job.

“It’s been a great tournament for us so far and we are looking forward to Sunday.

“Playing in England, I obviously now quite a lot of the Saxons squad and they are an excellent side, so we really need to bring our best performance out for the last game.”

The Churchill Cup decider will be broadcast live on Sky Sports 2, and IrishRugby.ie will also have live text commentary of the game here.

IRELAND ‘A’ TEAM & REPLACEMENTS (v England Saxons, 2009 Churchill Cup final, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Colorado, Sunday, June 21, kick-off 2.30pm local time/9.30pm Irish time):

15 – Felix Jones (Seapoint/Leinster)
14 – Denis Hurley (Cork Constitution/Munster)
13 – Fergus McFadden (UCD/Leinster)
12 – Keith Matthews (Buccaneers/Connacht)
11 – Johne Murphy (Leicester Tigers)
10 – Jonathan Sexton (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
9 – Isaac Boss (Ballymena/Ulster)
1 – Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster)
2 – Sean Cronin (Buccaneers/Connacht)
3 – Tony Buckley (Shannon/Munster)
4 – Donnacha Ryan (Shannon/Munster)
5 – Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster)
6 – Neil Best (Northampton Saints) (capt)
7 – Niall Ronan (Shannon/Munster)
8 – Chris Henry (Ballymena/Ulster)


16 – Denis Fogarty (Cork Constitution/Munster)
17 – Bryan Young (Ballymena/Ulster)
18 – Trevor Hogan (Blackrock College/Leinster)
19 – John Muldoon (Galwegians/Connacht)
20 – Simon Keogh (OId Belvedere/Leinster)
21 – Niall O’Connor (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster)
22 – James Downey (Northampton Saints)