Having narrowly lost to England Counties in their first game of the season, the Ireland Club side will be doubly determined to come out on top against familiar rivals Scotland in tonight’s AIB Club International encounter at Donnybrook (kick-off 7pm).
AIB CLUB INTERNATIONAL MATCH: Friday, March 19
IRELAND CLUB XV v SCOTLAND CLUB XV, Donnybrook, 7pm (live RTE website)
Team News: The Ireland Club team to play the Scotland Club side in the AIB Club International shows several changes from the team that lost 29-25 to England Counties last month.
AIB Club International coach David O’Mahony has brought in a number of new caps to represent their club and country in tonight’s game.
UCC’s John Ryan takes Martin Gately’s place in the front row, alongside Mike Essex and Simon Shawe who both impressed against England Counties.
In the back row, injuries to Barry O’Mahony and Richie Leyden mean that Hugh Hogan of St. Mary’s College and Zack Farivarz from Blackrock College come into the starting line-up.
Matt Healy of Lansdowne starts on the right wing in place of John Cleary, with Clontarf’s Killian Lett coming in for Cork Constitution’s AIB Cup-winning captain Evan Ryan in midfield.
Young Munster skipper Ger Slattery and Robin Copeland of St. Mary’s College, who is the top try scorer in AIB League Division 1A this season, have been added to the replacements bench for the game.
Dolphin scrum half Sam Cronin will captain the side and is joined once again at half-back by his club-mate Barry Keeshan.
A big crowd is expected at Donnybrook to cheer on the best club players in the country. The Ireland v Scotland Club XV duels have proved to be entertaining encounters in recent seasons so do not miss your chance to support the team!
Meanwhile, Scotland Club XV coach Ally Donaldson is hoping his side can continue their winning ways after last month’s 13-9 victory over a French selection at Netherdale.
The Scots also beat Ireland 31-18 when the sides met at Myreside twelve months ago, so they have travelled to Dublin in a confident mood.
Having said that, their preparations have been slightly disrupted with two late changes being forced upon them.
Alistair Hamilton comes off the bench to start at tighthead prop in place of Alan Brown who has failed to recover from a virus.
Hooker Scott Burnett has also been ruled out with an arm injury and has been replaced in the starting line-up by fellow Heriot’s clubman Finlay Gillies, who played for the Scottish Under-20s last season.
Former Scotland U-19 and U-20 captain Cameron Ferguson (Dundee) takes the vacant spot on the bench.
Elsewhere, James Fleming will make his club international debut on the right wing, Gordon Reid will start at loosehead prop instead of Alan Dymock and Graham Wilson will also make his club international bow if he is introduced off the bench.
IRELAND CLUB XV: Daragh O’Shea (Clontarf); Matt Healy (Lansdowne), Eric Moloney (Dolphin), Killian Lett (Clontarf), Stephen Kelly (Shannon); Barry Keeshan (Dolphin), Sam Cronin (Dolphin) (capt); John Ryan (UCC), Mike Essex (Shannon), Simon Shawe (Ballymena), Paul Huntly (Blackrock College), Fergal Walsh (Shannon), Hugh Hogan (St. Mary’s College), Zack Farivarz (Blackrock College), Frank Cogan (Cork Constitution).
Replacements: Ger Slattery (Young Munster), Christy Condon (Dolphin), Simon Crawford (Clontarf), Robin Copeland (St. Mary’s College), Cathal Sheridan (UL Bohemians), Darragh Fitzpatrick (Blackrock College), Sean Scanlon (UCC).
SCOTLAND CLUB XV: Fraser Harkness (Selkirk); James Fleming (Dundee), Malcolm Clapperton (Boroughmuir), James King (Melrose), Fraser Thomson (Melrose); Scott Wight (Melrose), Richard Sneddon (Currie); Gordon Reid (Ayr), Finlay Gillies (Heriot’s), Alastair Hamilton (Currie), Damien Kelly (Ayr), Rory McKay (Glasgow Hawks), John Dalziel (Melrose) (capt), Mark Cairns (Currie), Ross Weston (Currie).
Replacements: Gregor Wood (Watsonians), Alan Dymock (Heriot’s), Scott Sutherland (Ayr), Andrew Dunlop (Ayr), Graham Wilson (Heriot’s), Andrew MacMahon (Currie), Cameron Fergus (Dundee).
Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
Assistant Referees: Paul Haycock, John Carvill (both Ireland)
Pre-Match Quotes: Sam Cronin (Ireland Club XV captain) – “Scotland are a hugely physical team, they’ve a few semi pros in their side and that shows. They bring great intensity to the game.
“We’ll be all the better for our recent game against England Counties. Individually, we’re all good footballers and have good heads on our shoulders.
“With representative teams like this, a lot of the players are leaders in their clubs. That kinda shows, the talk is important with such a scratch team – the communication in defence and attack.
“After our improved second half performance against England, I’d be quietly confident going into the Scotland game that we can get the right result.”
Ian Rankin (Scotland Club XV manager) – “Donnybrook is a great venue for this fixture and not far from Dublin city centre so we hope to get a strong Scottish contingent down to kick-off their weekend of rugby in Dublin.
“We’re hoping they come along and get behind the best club players in Scotland as they attempt to build on their encouraging victory over France last month.”
Ireland Club XV: Previous Matches –
2006: Ireland Club XV 30 Scotland Club XV 13, Donnybrook
2008: Ireland Club XV 20 Scotland Club XV 15, Donnybrook
2010: England Counties 29 Ireland Club XV 25, Stourbridge RFC