The Ireland Club team has been confirmed for this week’s trip to Netherdale to face their Scottish counterparts in the opening match of the 2019 Dalriada Cup Series.
Head coach Morgan Lennon and assistant coach Johne Murphy have blended experience throughout the squad while naming seven debutants in the starting XV. Cork Constitution’s Niall Kenneally captains the side and is one of nine Irish players who featured in both games of the 2018 series.
Kenneally starts at centre alongside former captain Matt D’Arcy who makes a record eighth start at this level. Old Belvedere flyer Jack Keating will make his Club international debut on the left wing, while Lansdowne duo Daniel McEvoy and Eamonn Mills complete the back-three.
Garryowen hooker Liam Cronin will make his first start in the pack with the experience of Lansdowne’s Ian Prendiville and Old Wesley’s Cronan Gleeson either side of him. Prendiville’s first campaign was in 2015 and he made five consecutive starts before missing out on the 2018 series.
It is a new pairing in the second row where Cork Constitution team-mates Brian Hayes and Conor Kindregan combine. The current Division 1A leaders contribute six players in total to Ireland’s starting line-up this week, including Aidan Moynihan who has UCC’s John Poland alongside him at half-back.
Terenure College’s Michael Melia switches from the second row to the back row for the game where he packs down with Joe McSwiney and debutant Luke Cahill. Melia was man-of-the-match in the 26-23 win at home last season, with McSwiney, another of the Cork Con contingent, grabbing one of Ireland’s tries.
Tom O’Reilly and Michael Noone are the experienced forwards among the quintet on the bench, while Alan Bennie, Malone’s Callum Smith and Michael Brown of Clontarf will be hoping to make their debuts if called upon.
The Ireland and Scotland club stars play each other at Netherdale this Friday afternoon before the return fixture on Friday week (February 8) at Energia Park in Donnybrook. Tickets for the Dublin fixture are available at Ticketmaster.ie. The Dalriada Cup will go to the side with the higher aggregate score across the two clashes.
IRELAND CLUB XV Team & Replacements (v Scotland Clubs, 2019 Dalriada Cup Series, Netherdale, Galashiels, Friday, February 1, kick-off 3.30pm):
Player/Club/Club International Caps –
15. Eamonn Mills (Lansdowne) 3
14. Daniel McEvoy (Lansdowne) 2
13. Niall Kenneally (Cork Constitution) (capt) 2
12. Matt D’Arcy (Clontarf) 7
11. Jack Keating (Old Belvedere) *
10. Aidan Moynihan (Cork Constitution) *
9. John Poland (UCC) *
1. Cronan Gleeson (Old Wesley) 2
2. Liam Cronin (Garryowen) *
3. Ian Prendiville (Lansdowne) 5
4. Brian Hayes (Cork Constitution) *
5. Conor Kindregan (Cork Constitution) *
6. Michael Melia (Terenure College) 2
7. Joe McSwiney (Cork Constitution) 2
8. Luke Cahill (Cork Constitution) *
16. John Sutton (Buccaneers) *
17. Tom O’Reilly (St. Mary’s College) 2
18. Andy Keating (Garryowen) *
19. Jack O’Sullivan (Lansdowne) *
20. Michael Noone (Clontarf) 2
21. Alan Bennie (Lansdowne) *
22. Callum Smith (Malone) *
23. Michael Brown (Clontarf) *
* Denotes uncapped player at this level