AIB Club International coach and former Ireland scrum half David O’Mahony has named the starting line-up and replacements to face England Counties in Stourbridge on Friday night.
The Ireland squad is selected from players in the AIB League who are not currently on a professional contract and is a chance for the best players in the amateur game to represent their country.
This fixture has become increasingly popular in recent seasons with the Ireland Club side acquitting themselves well in games against England Counties and the Scotland Club side.
Friday’s clash is the third meeting with England Counties. The AIB Club International side won the first meeting in 2007 by 20-17, while last year the tie ended in a 13-13 draw.
Munster clubs have dominated AIB League rugby down through the years and this is demonstrated by the presence of ten players drawn from clubs in the province in the starting line-up, including three each from reigning AIB League champions Shannon and newly-crowned AIB Cup champions Cork Constitution.
Cork club Dolphin will also have a keen interest in the game as the lively half-back pairing of Sam Cronin and Barry Keeshan will anchor the side and they are joined in the national team by club-mates Barry O’Mahony and Eric Moloney with Christy Condon on the bench.
Scrum half Cronin has also been handed the captaincy role for the match.
Up front, Shannon’s Mike Essex will be joined by Cork Con’s Martin Gately and Simon Shawe of Ballymena, who is one of only four players included from outside Division 1A.
Old Belvedere’s Richie Leyden is on the blindside flank with John Cleary of Galwegians on the right wing, while UCC’s Sean Scanlon will provide cover for full-back from the bench.
All told there are eleven clubs represented in the AIB Club International side – Ballymena, Blackrock College, Clontarf, Cork Constitution, Dolphin, Galwegians, Old Belvedere, St. Mary’s College, Shannon, UCC and UL Bohemians.
AIB CLUB INTERNATIONAL Team & Replacements (v England Counties, Stourbridge RFC, West Midlands, Friday, February 26, kick-off 7.30pm):
15 – Daragh O’Shea (Clontarf RFC)
14 – John Cleary (Galwegians RFC)
13 – Eric Moloney (Dolphin RFC)
12 – Evan Ryan (Cork Constitution FC)
11 – Stephen Kelly (Shannon RFC)
10 – Barry Keeshan (Dolphin RFC)
9 – Sam Cronin (Dolphin RFC) (capt)
1 – Martin Gately (Cork Constitution FC)
2 – Mike Essex (Shannon RFC)
3 – Simon Shawe (Ballymena RFC)
4 – Paul Huntly (Blackrock College RFC)
5 – Fergal Walsh (Shannon RFC)
6 – Richie Leyden (Old Belvedere RFC)
7 – Barry O’Mahony (Dolphin RFC)
8 – Frank Cogan (Cork Constitution FC)
16 – Aaron Dundon (Clontarf RFC)
17 – Christy Condon (Dolphin RFC)
18 – Simon Crawford (Clontarf RFC)
19 – Hugh Hogan (St. Mary’s College RFC)
20 – Cathal Sheridan (UL Bohemians RFC)
21 – Darragh Fitzpatrick (Blackrock College RFC)
22 – Sean Scanlon (University College Cork RFC)