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Club International Preview: Scotland Club XV v Ireland Club XV

Club International Preview: Scotland Club XV v Ireland Club XV

The Dalriada Cup is on the line once again as the best club players in Ireland and Scotland lock horns in this eagerly-awaited annual encounter. Tonight’s game will go ahead at Netherdale in Galashiels, with an earlier 6.30pm kick-off.


SCOTLAND CLUB XV v IRELAND CLUB XV, Netherdale, Galashiels, 6.30pm

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Team News:  The Ireland Club team, coached by Paul Cunningham and Killian Keane, has been named for the Dalriada Cup clash with Scotland Clubs at Netherdale in Galashiels.

The Ulster Bank Club International side will play their Scottish counterparts tonight before lining out at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday week (February 14) as part of a unique double header against the French alongside the RBS 6 Nations senior international match.

Tickets for the upcoming Club International game at the Aviva Stadium are on sale now from Ticketmaster.ie.

Ireland are the current holders of the Dalriada Cup having won this fixture 28-3 at Cork Constitution FC last year.

Head coach Cunningham can call on some experienced players at this level as well as selecting from the top players in the Ulster Bank League.

Clontarf’s Matt D’Arcy will captain the Irish team from inside centre, pairing up with Lansdowne’s Mark Roche. Darragh Lyons was due to have his Cork Constitution club-mate Gerry Hurley, last season’s Club International skipper, alongside him at half-back, but a calf injury has ruled him out. Garryowen’s Neil Cronin starts at scrum half instead.

The back-three sees Ulster Bank League Division 1A Player of the Year for 2014, Daniel Riordan, who bagged a brace in the corresponding fixture last season, lining out again at full-back with Terenure College’s Stephen O’Neill and Ed O’Keeffe from Young Munster on the wings.

In the front row Ian Prendiville of Division 1A leaders Lansdowne and Cork Con’s Andrew O’Driscoll are joined by Declan Lavery from Old Belvedere.

Fergal Walsh (Terenure) and Stephen Gardiner (Lansdowe) are the starting locks, while Old Belvedere’s Jonathan Slattery anchors the scrum alongside flankers Stephen Mulholland of Ballymena and Paul Pritchard (Ballynahinch).

This fixture has been relocated from Old Anniesland, Glasgow to Netherdale, Galashiels due to weather concerns. Tickets are prices at £12 for adults and it is free admission for Under-18s and Scotland Season Pass holders.

Meanwhile, Ayr centre Ross Curle will captain the Scotland Club outfit for their opening match of 2015, at a new venue and time. Curle, who will pull on the Club XV jersey for the fifth time, will be supported by vice-captain and Currie number 8 Ross Weston.

Head coach Smith has named seven new caps in the starting line-up and four on the bench – Hawick winger Scott McLeod, Melrose prop Nick Beavon, Gala hooker Russell Anderson, Boroughmuir lock Iain Moody; and Heriot’s trio Graham Wilson (scrum half), Liam Steele (centre) and Russell Nimmo (lock) are the starting debutants.

Heriot’s out-half Gregor McNeish, Hawick prop Shawn Muir and back rowers Tommy Spinks (Glasgow Hawks) and Peter Eccles (Melrose) could win their first caps from the bench.

The remainder of the Scottish side is made up of Melrose full-back Fraser Thomson, Ayr winger Craig Gossman, Heriot’s out-half Stuart Edwards, prop Struan Cessford and back rowers Jason Hill (Heriot’s) and Will Bordill (Ayr).

SCOTLAND CLUB XV: Fraser Thomson (Melrose); Craig Gossman (Ayr), Liam Steele (Heriot’s), Ross Curle (Ayr) (capt), Scott McLeod (Hawick); Stuart Edwards (Heriot’s), Graham Wilson (Heriot’s); Nick Beavon (Melrose), Russell Anderson (Gala), Struan Cessford (Heriot’s), Russell Nimmo (Heriot’s), Iain Moody (Boroughmuir), Jason Hill (Heriot’s), Will Bordill (Ayr), Ross Weston (Currie).

Replacements: Fergus Scott (Ayr), Ewan McQuillin (Melrose), Shawn Muir (Hawick), Peter Eccles (Melrose), Tommy Spinks (Glasgow Hawks), George Graham (Gala), Gregor McNeish (Heriot’s), Chris Auld (Gala).

IRELAND CLUB XV: Daniel Riordan (Old Belvedere); Stephen O’Neill (Terenure College), Mark Roche (Lansdowne), Matt D’Arcy (Clontarf) (capt), Ed O’Keeffe (Young Munster); Darragh Lyons (Cork Constitution), Neil Cronin (Garryowen); Ian Prendiville (Lansdowne), Andrew O’Driscoll (Cork Constitution), Declan Lavery (Old Belvedere), Stephen Gardiner (Lansdowne), Fergal Walsh (Terenure College), Stephen Mulholland (Ballymena), Paul Pritchard (Ballynahinch), Jonathan Slattery (Old Belvedere).

Replacements: Eddie Rossiter (Garryowen), Ger Sweeney (Cork Constitution), Peter O’Shea (Garryowen), Sean Walsh (Cashel), Kieran O’Gorman (Old Belvedere), Angus Lloyd (Dublin University), Stephen Murphy (UCD), Kevin McGrath (Skerries).

Referee: Rhys Thomas (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Dunx McClement, Graeme Marshall (both Scotland)

Pre-Match Quotes – Matt D’Arcy (Ireland Club XV captain): “We’ve trained the last three Sundays together as a group. The main challenge is obviously coming together with a different bunch of players, it’s mainly been team bonding training, skill work and running through general plays.

“Most people are usually battle-hardened from the Ulster Bank League, so it’s been about getting to know each other and learning off how we want to play. It’s light training, but a lot of organisational stuff.

“The onus is really on the players. The coaches obviously give us the way we want to play. It’s about keeping it simple, keeping the spacing minimal, making the right decisions and playing what’s in front of you.”

Phil Smith (Scotland Club XV head coach): “Picking seven debutants shows that we are selecting players from the club game who are on form. It is my intention to reward players for their consistent and excellent efforts in the league.

“The personnel I have picked want to challenge Ireland physically, as well as create as much mobility as possible. We don’t want to go to war up front on Friday night. We want to move them and put them under pressure, as we target a win.

“Ireland will be a bit of an unknown quantity, but I know they will be a very good team filled with quality players. We will have to be at the top of our game from 1 to 23.”

Ireland Club XV: Recent Matches –

2012: Ireland Club XV 26 Scotland Club XV 21, Anglesea Road, Old Belvedere RFC; England Counties 34 Ireland Club XV 16, Preston Grasshoppers RFC

2013: Ireland Club XV 30 England Counties 20, Temple Hill, Cork Constitution FC; Scotland Club XV 30 Ireland Club XV 18, Millbrae, Ayr RFC

2014: Ireland Club XV 28 Scotland Club XV 3, Temple Hill, Cork Constitution FC; England Counties 22 Ireland Club XV 23, Northern Echo Arena, Darlington Mowden Park RFC