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League Champions Prepare For ‘Battle Of Clontarf’

League Champions Prepare For ‘Battle Of Clontarf’

The Danske Bank Challenge between Clontarf and the Barbarians at Castle Avenue on Wednesday (kick-off 5.30pm) is set to be a sell-out, with the last few tickets on sale for the game which marks the 1,000th anniversary of the Battle of Clontarf.

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Clontarf v Barbarians tickets can be purchased from the club office (tel: (01) 8336214, Monday-Friday, 9am-1pm), from the club bar during opening hours, from Nolans supermarket & Spar on Vernon Avenue and Stiles Road. Alternatively email Clontarf at barbarians@clontarfrugby.com.

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Tickets are priced at €;10 for under-12s and €;20 for adults. Kick-off is at 5.30pm. Capacity is limited, with Clontarf expecting upwards of 4,000 spectators to attend.

Wednesday’s specially-arranged game comes just a few days after Clontarf dramatically won their first Ulster Bank League title, prevailing in the final round as they beat Ballynahinch at home and Old Belvedere lost away to Garryowen.

The man who guided ‘Tarf to league glory, New Zealander Andy Wood, is looking forward to welcoming the world famous Barbarians to Castle Avenue.

“This game is a good occasion to tip the hat to the supporters. They can enjoy the day out, out of the pressure of the league – we’ve had a lot of ups and downs throughout the season,” said the Clontarf head coach.

“It will be great to get a good game of rugby here and celebrate the club and obviously the history of the local area, all in one go. We’ll give all the supporters a good night out hopefully.”

Leinster and Ireland prop Cian Healy, a long-serving Clontarf member, is fully behind his local club as they face the Baa Baas.

The match between the two sides will take place one thousand years to the day of the actual ‘Battle of Clontarf’.

“It’s huge, (the anniversary) is really going to be marked well. It’s a big event for the club and the area. The excitement is building already and I’d say the place is going to be jammed on Wednesday,” admitted Healy.

Clontarf FC Chairman Brian Goff explained how this unique encounter came about, saying: “A guy called Shane Hartnett, about five years ago, was very forward-thinking. He said, ‘we’ve a big date coming up, why don’t I write to the Barbarians and see if they’re available?’

“After we laughed at him and Shane went off and did his thing, lo and behold about 18 months ago they came back to us about and said they actually had a date in their calendar to fulfil the fixture if you guys are still interested and we said, ‘yeah, we’d love to. It would be fantastic’.”

Current Lansdowne and Ireland Under-20 head coach Mike Ruddock is taking charge of the Barbarians side, with the assistant role filled by Greig Oliver, Munster Elite Player Development Officer and the province’s U-20 head coach.

A number of Ulster Bank League players will have the honour of wearing the famous black and white hooped jersey. Welsh prop Ben Evans has been selected as captain.

The visitors will also feature multi-capped Welsh international Ceri Sweeney, England flanker Dean Schofield, Namibia’s scrum half Ryan de la Harpe and German international prop Rob Ellaway.

BARBARIANS Squad (v Clontarf): Daniel Riordan and Philip O’Dwyer (both Old Belvedere), Jason Shoemark (Exeter), Tom Cheesman (Esher), Fraser Harkness (Selkirk), Ceri Sweeney (Exeter/Wales), James Grindal (Bristol), Lorne Ward (Rosslyn Park), Ger Slattery (Young Munster), Ben Evans (Moseley/Wales) (capt), Mike Powell (Moseley), Haydn Pugh (Carmarthen Quins), Dean Schofield (Worcester/England), Charlie Butterworth (Lansdowne), William Ryan (Cork Constitution), Rob Ellaway (Cornish Pirates/Germany), Colm McMahon (St. Mary’s College), Andrew Jones (Llandovery), Mark McCraith (Bedford Blues), Peter Synnott (Esher), Ryan de la Harpe (Fylde/Namibia), Ritchie McMaster (Queen’s University), Bryan Rennie (Bristol).

World famous referee Nigel Owens will be the man in the middle on Wednesday evening. He is hosting ‘An Evening with Nigel Owens’ tonight (8pm) at Castle Avenue.

Tickets for Nigel’s event are priced at €;20 and are available from behind the bar in Clontarf Rugby Club, or by calling the office on (01) 8336214.