The Ireland Club team, sponsored by Ulster Bank, has been selected for their second and final game against Scotland at Netherdale in Galashiels on Friday night (kick-off 7.30pm).
Head coach Morgan Lennon and assistant coach Johne Murphy have made three personnel changes – and a number of positional switches – to the side that won the opening fixture 26-23 at Dubarry Park almost three weeks ago.
Terenure College captain Robbie Smyth comes into the side for his first Ireland Club XV cap and forms the front row with Old Wesley’s Cronan Glesson and Young Munster tighthead Colm Skehan. Clontarf skipper Ben Reilly has also been added to the second row, packing down alongside Terenure’s Alex Thompson.
Thompson’s club-mate Michael Melia, who was the man-of-the-match for Ireland in Athlone last month, moves from the engine room to blindside flanker, with Lansdowne’s Jack Dwan and number 8 Michael Noone from Clontarf completing the back row.
The Ireland Club XV will again be captained by goal-kicking scrum half Neil Cronin, who is joined by his Garryowen colleague Jamie Gavin at half-back. Matt D’Arcy, who bagged his eighth league try of the campaign for Clontarf last weekend, and Cork Constitution’s 2017 league title-winning captain Niall Kenneally continue together in midfield.
There is an all-Lansdowne back-three for the return leg in Galashiels as full-back Eamonn Mills – the third personnel change – links up with Daniel McEvoy, the scorer of the match-winning try in the first game, and Harry Brennan.
The visitors’ bench includes two Ireland Club XV debutants in Cashel prop James Kendrick and Naas winger/full-back Fionn Higgins. This is the twelfth season of the Club international fixture between Ireland and Scotland, and as it stands, Ireland’s record is seven wins and five defeats.
The sides are competing for the Dalriada Cup, which was first introduced in 2011, and the Scottish side have lifted the trophy on the last two occasions – 2015 at Netherdale and 2016 at Temple Hill.
Ticket’s for Friday’s Club International match at Netherdale are on sale now, available through Gala Rugby Club or online here. Under-18 tickets are free, adults gain admission for £12, and there are concessions (seniors and students) for £5.
IRELAND CLUB INTERNATIONAL Team & Replacements (v Scotland Clubs, Ulster Bank Club International Match, Netherdale, Galashiels, Friday, March 16, kick-off 7.30pm):
15. Eamonn Mills (Lansdowne)
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. Robbie Smyth (Terenure College) *
3. Colm Skehan (Young Munster)
4. Ben Reilly (Clontarf)
5. Alex Thompson (Terenure College)
6. Michael Melia (Terenure College)
7. Jack Dwan (Lansdowne)
8. Michael Noone (Clontarf)
16. Paddy Finlay (Dublin University)
17. Tom O’Reilly (St. Mary’s College)
18. James Kendrick (Cashel) *
19. Joe McSwiney (Cork Constitution)
20. Paulie Tolofua (Naas)
21. Angus Lloyd (Dublin University)
22. Mark O’Neill (Tenenure College)
23. Fionn Higgins (Naas) *
* Denotes uncapped 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 MATCHES:
Ireland Club XV 26 Scotland Clubs 23
Friday, February 23
Dubarry Park, Athone
Scotland Clubs v Ireland Club XV
Friday, March 16, kick-off 7.30pm