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Shannon Players Making Their Mark Down Under

Shannon Players Making Their Mark Down Under

Four former Shannon players could be celebrating this Sunday as they aim for glory in the Western Australian Premier grade grand final.

Playing with the famed University of Western Australia and with a multitude All-Ireland medals between them, Andrew Finn, Fionn McLoughlin, Trevor Downes and Cian O’Connor are preparing for Sunday’s grand final where they are hoping to bridge an almost 40-year gap since the club last won the title.

Andrew Finn in Australia

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Their stories are pretty much a replica of the thousands of young Irish emigrants who leave our shores for an indefinite period in order to escape the consequences of the recession, but with their added rugby prowess in their backpack it was always a case of rugby first and a job may follow.

Finn, who has played for the Ireland Club International side, has been with the University side for the past two seasons along with Cashel native O’Connor.

McLoughlin and Kilrush man Downes are hoping to conclude their first season with a coveted winner’s medal this weekend.

It is not only Shannon men that are infiltrating the Perth team. Young Munster’s Alan Kingsley left Limerick at the end of last season to join up with the quartet and has also had a considerable influence on the club’s progression to the final.

The talented out-half is the club’s highest points scorer with 148 points to his name and no doubt he will be more than anxious to add to that tally on Sunday.

University of Western Australia’s progression to the final came after a second place finish in the league table where Nedlands led the way, and locally their place in the final is seen as somewhat unlikely as they finished up a lowly eighth last season.

While ‘Uni’s’ last appearance in a grand final came way back in 1977, their opponents Nedlands, who are strong favourites for the final, are current champions and regular participants in these deciders.

Speaking before the final, Finn talked about the standard of rugby in the league. “It’s a pretty high standard here, close to that of the AIL.

“We regularly play against Western Force (Super 15) players and sometimes current Wallabies. Current Wallaby James O’Connor played in our league this year. The structure is similar to that in Ireland, with the clubs being feeders to the professional game.”

He added: “We had five Western Force players playing with us at some stage during the season, including Sam Wykes, Nathan Charles (Wallaby), Nick Cummins (Wallaby), Rory Sidey and Ted Postale.

“Ex-Munster player David Pusey was coaching the team that we beat in the semi-finals, Cottesloe, so we’re nearly always up against strong sides.”

Finn and O’Connor have been selected for the Perth Gold representative side, which would be equivalent to a Munster amateur selection, and are due to play the Western Force ‘A’ side after the grand final.

Despite having home advantage, the University of Western Australia side will be up against it. But perhaps the good wishes of everyone at Shannon RFC may give them an extra spurt and they can turn the form book upside down on Sunday.

Further information can been found on the UWA website or the Western Force website.