The Ireland Club team, sponsored by Ulster Bank, has been confirmed for Friday night’s Club International fixture against their Scottish counterparts at Dubarry Park in Athlone (kick-off 7.30pm).
Head coach Morgan Lennon and assistant coach Johne Murphy, who coach Old Wesley and Naas respectively, have named an exciting side, with players drawn from 12 Ulster Bank League clubs.
The Ireland Club team will be captained by Garryowen scrum half Neil Cronin, who returns for his fifth Club International campaign. He is one of the top points scorers in this season’s Ulster Bank League, with 135 points to his name.
Cronin will look to marshal a pack that sees Old Wesley’s Cronan Gleeson line up in the front row alongside former Canada Under-20 hooker Paddy Finlay and Colm Skehan, who picked up the Ulster Bank League Munster Club Player of the Year last season.
Terenure College provide the second row pairing, with Michael Melia and former Ireland Under-20 lock Alex Thompson packing down in the engine room. In the back row, Lansdowne’s Jack Dwan and Clontarf’s Michael Noone have both represented Ireland at Under-20 level, while Joe McSwiney has the distinction of winning league titles with both Lansdowne and Cork Constitution in recent seasons.
In the back-line, Cronin’s Garryowen team-mate Jamie Gavin will wear the number 10 jersey, and Clontarf’s Matt D’Arcy begins his fourth stint with the Club side, teaming up in midfield with Cork Constitution’s Niall Kenneally, who last season captained his club to success in the Ulster Bank League, the Bateman Cup and the Munster Senior Cup.
In the back-three, Lansdowne wingers Daniel McEvoy and Harry Brennan have combined for nine tries in the league this season, with McEvoy picking up the inaugural #UBLTry Of the Month award back in September. Terenure’s Jack Swaine lines out at full-back to complete the starting line-up.
Amongst the replacements, Ed Rossiter and Ciaran Ruddock are both captains of their respective clubs (Old Belvedere and St. Mary’s) this season, while well-travelled prop Michael Cromie, who has had stints playing with Rotherham Titans and Rodez, is one of the driving forces behind Banbridge’s promotion bid.
Strong-carrying back rower Paulie Tolofua is a former Naas Player of the Year winner and Division 2A Player of the Year nominee, and Trinity scrum half Angus Lloyd played for both Ulster and Munster last season, including an appearance off the bench for the latter against Toulouse in last April’s Champions Cup quarter-final win.
Corkman Eamonn Mills, who is in his third season at Lansdowne, was awarded the Ulster Bank League Leinster Club Player of the Year award last season.
This is the twelfth season of the Club international fixture between Ireland and Scotland, and as it stands, Ireland’s record is six wins and five defeats. The sides will compete for the Dalriada Cup, which was first introduced in 2011, and the Scots have lifted it on the last two occasions – 2015 at Netherdale and 2016 at Temple Hill.
Tickets for Friday’s Ireland v Scotland Club International are available via host club Buccaneers RFC and are priced as follows: Stand €;12, Terrace €;10, Child & Students €;5 – under-16s are free when accompanied by an adult.
IRELAND CLUB INTERNATIONAL Team & Replacements (v Scotland Clubs, Ulster Bank Club International Match, Dubarry Park, Buccaneers RFC, Friday, February 23, kick-off 7.30pm):
15. Jake Swaine (Tenenure College)
14. Harry Brennan (Lansdowne)
13. Niall Kenneally (Cork Constitution)
12. Matt D’Arcy (Clontarf) *
11. Daniel McEvoy (Lansdowne)
10. Jamie Gavin (Garryowen)
9. Neil Cronin (Garryowen) (capt) *
1. Cronan Gleeson (Old Wesley)
2. Paddy Finlay (Dublin University)
3. Colm Skehan (Young Munster)
4. Alex Thompson (Terenure College)
5. Michael Melia (Tenenure College)
6. Jack Dwan (Lansdowne)
7. Joe McSwiney (Cork Constitution)
8. Michael Noone (Clontarf)
16. Ed Rossiter (Old Belvedere) *
17. Tom O’Reilly (St. Mary’s College)
18. Michael Cromie (Banbridge)
19. Ciaran Ruddock (St. Mary’s College) *
20. Paulie Tolofua (Naas)
21. Angus Lloyd (Dublin University) *
22. Mark O’Neill (Terenure College)
23. Eamonn Mills (Lansdowne) *
* Denotes previously-capped player at this level
IRELAND ULSTER BANK CLUB INTERNATIONAL MANAGEMENT –
Head Coach – Morgan Lennon
Assistant Coach – Johne Murphy
Team Manager – Maurice Hartery
Baggage Master – David Jermyn
Strength & Conditioning Coach – Cathal Murtagh
Doctor – Stuart O’Flanagan
Physio – Ailbe McCormack
2017/18 CLUB INTERNATIONAL FIXTURES:
Ireland Club XV v Scotland Clubs
Friday, February 23, kick-off 7.30pm
Dubarry Park, Athone
Scotland Clubs v Ireland Club XV
Friday, March 16, kick-off 7.30pm