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Club International Match Preview: England Counties v Ireland Club XV

Club International Match Preview: England Counties v Ireland Club XV

With the Dalriada Cup safely secured for another season, the Ireland Club team are hoping to round off their two-match campaign by taking the scalp of England Counties for the first time on English soil.


ENGLAND COUNTIES v IRELAND CLUB XV, Lightfoot Green, Preston Grasshoppers RFC, 7.30pm

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Team News: Clontarf’s Ben Barclay has earned a late call-up to the Ireland Club team for Friday’s clash with England Counties at Preston Grasshoppers RFC. Rob Sweeney is injured and unable to play, so Barclay takes over at loosehead prop.

Barclay’s inclusion means there are three changes to the side that defeated the Scotland Club selection last week in the Ulster Bank Club International to retain the Dalriada Cup.

Barclay, a former Ireland Under-20 international, will be making his debut at this level. The 24-year-old has been in consistently good form for Clontarf during the 2011/12 campaign.

The other two changes made by the Irish management are in the back row, with captain Simon Crawford and Hugh Hogan both ruled out because of injury.

Young Munster’s Liam Og Murphy comes in for Crawford at blindside flanker, while Clontarf’s Frank Cogan will don the number 8 jersey in place of Hogan.

The captain’s armband passes to Cork Constitution scrum half Gerry Hurley, with Dolphin prop Christy Condon named as vice-captain.

The Ireland Club team won their corresponding encounter with England Counties last year. David Mongan and Crawford scored the tries which helped the Irish record a 16-8 victory.

Meanwhile, the selected England Counties side includes a number of fresh faces from their meeting with Ireland in Dublin last year.

In keeping with tradition, the Counties have 13 debutants in a squad drawn from 12 clubs. Only four of the English panel started the 2011 encounter between these sides.

England Counties team manager Mike Old said: “I’ve been really impressed with the guys. They’ve mixed well, come together very well and our units within the team are good.

“It does help that we have some club combinations involved and also players with previous Counties experience.

“I’m happy with the little bit more experience we have in the squad, be it with the Counties or through more mature club players.

“Rob (Baldwin) will lead the team extremely well and get advice and support from senior players like Matt Hall. I’m also very excited about the back-line, which has trained phenomenally well.”

* Tickets are priced at £10 for adults and £5 for OAPs/students. Under-16s accompanied by an adult are free. The gates and bars will open at 5pm.

ENGLAND COUNTIES: Peter Hodgkinson (Ealing Trailfinders); Phil Chesters (Ealing Trailfinders), Andrew Henderson (Barking), Tom Wheatcroft (Ealing Trailfinders), Owen Bruynseels (Ealing Trailfinders); Ross Laidlaw (Rosslyn Park), Harry Peck (Tynedale); Robbie Kalbraier (Blaydon), Matt Hall (Blaydon), Tom Mantell (Macclesfield), Louis McGowan (Sedgley Park), Robbie Hurrell (Stourbridge), Lee Starling (Ealing Trailfinders), Dave Allen (Blackheath), Rob Baldwin (Wharfedale) (capt).

Replacements: David Dickinson (Tynedale), Sam Wilkes (Cinderford), Sam Shires (Tynedale), Chris Wearmouth (Blaydon), Philip Woodhead (Wharfedale), Chris Briers (Fylde), Mike Waywell (Fylde).

IRELAND CLUB XV: Rodger McBurney (Ballymena); Cian Aherne (Lansdowne), Killian Lett (Clontarf), Mike Kelliher (Young Munster), Cathal Quinn (Cork Constitution); Craig Ronaldson (Lansdowne), Gerry Hurley (Cork Constitution) (capt); Ben Barclay (Clontarf), Ger Slattery (Young Munster), Christy Condon (Dolphin), Philip Donnellan (Cork Constitution), Fergal Walsh (Shannon), Liam Og Murphy (Young Munster), Barry O’Mahony (Clontarf), Frank Cogan (Clontarf).

Replacements: Hugh McGrath (Young Munster), Risteard Byrne (UCD), Damian Hall (St. Mary’s College), Neville Melbourne (Young Munster), Brian Slater (UCC), Barry Keeshan (Dolphin), James Thompson (Ballynahinch).

Referee: Johann van der Merwe (Scotland)

Pre-Match Links –

O’Mahony Savours Ireland Club Success

Twomey: Great Character Shown By The Players

Ireland Club XV 26 Scotland Club XV 21 – Match Photos

Ireland Club XV: Previous Matches –

2006: Ireland Club XV 30 Scotland Club XV 13, Donnybrook

2007: Ireland Club XV 20 England Counties 17, Donnybrook; Scotland Club XV 18 Ireland Club XV 11, Boroughmuir RFC

2008: Ireland Club XV 20 Scotland Club XV 15, Donnybrook

2009: Ireland Club XV 13 England Counties 13, Donnybrook; Scotland Club XV 31 Ireland Club XV 18, Watsonians RFC

2010: England Counties 29 Ireland Club XV 25, Stourbridge RFC; Ireland Club XV 21 Scotland Club XV 18, Donnybrook

2011: Scotland Club XV 30 Ireland Club XV 32, Netherdale, Gala RFC; Ireland Club XV 16 England Counties 8, Anglesea Road

2012: Ireland Club XV 26 Scotland Club XV 21, Anglesea Road