With a new head coach and captain in place, the Ireland Club team will bid to successfully defend the Dalriada Cup when they renew their annual rivalry with their Scottish counterparts at Anglesea Road tonight.
ULSTER BANK CLUB INTERNATIONAL MATCH: Friday, March 9
IRELAND CLUB XV v SCOTLAND CLUB XV, Anglesea Road, Old Belvedere RFC, 6.30pm
Team News: The Ireland Club team to play a Scotland Clubs selection in the Ulster Bank Club International for the Dalriada Cup contains five new caps.
Clontarf’s Simon Crawford will captain the side with Cork Constitution’s influential scrum half Gerry Hurley named as vice-captain.
The five new players to be capped at this level are all in the back-line with Lansdowne’s Craig Ronaldson named at out-half outside the experienced Gerry Hurley.
Mike Kelliher of Young Munster will form a new centre partnership with the previously-capped Killian Lett, who has been in impressive form throughout the season for Division 1A leaders Clontarf.
There is an all new back-three with Cathal Quinn of Cork Constitution and Lansdowne’s Cian Aherne named alongside Ballymena’s Rodger McBurney.
The side is coached by UCC’s Conor Twomey, who is assisted by David Murphy of De La Salle Palmerston.
The Ireland Club side captured the inaugural Dalriada Cup with a thrilling 32-30 win in Scotland last season.
Twomey’s charges will also face the England Counties team at Preston Grasshoppers RFC on Friday, March 16.
Meanwhile, Scotland Club XV head coach Ally Donaldson has made two changes to his side for the trip across to Dublin.
Fraser Harkness and Alan Dymock drop out of the squad with Harkness recalled to the Scotland Sevens set-up for training and Dymock having suffered concussion during a club match last weekend.
This sees Melrose’s Fraser Thomson move into the full-back shirt and Currie’s Dougie Fife and John Cox selected on the left wing and at loosehead prop respectively.
On the bench, Dundee HSFP captain Neil Dymock comes in as a replacement for his brother.
“We were very pleased with the result against France (they won 25-18 at home on February 24), but in order to win our first game on foreign soil we must improve and lift the intensity on Friday night,” admitted Donaldson.
“With only two games in a season and the chance to make history we want to keep as much continuity as possible.
“The fact we have never won away from home in Ireland shows how much of a challenge Friday will be. The Irish side is big and abrasive, so in order to win we must combat that with pace and intensity.”
* Tickets for tonight’s game are 10 euro at the gate and 5 euro for OAPS and students. You can also call into Ulster Bank in Donnybrook today and pick up free tickets.
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); Rob Sweeney (St. Mary’s College), Ger Slattery (Young Munster), Christy Condon (Dolphin), Philip Donnellan (Cork Constitution), Fergal Walsh (Shannon), Simon Crawford (Clontarf) (capt), Barry O’Mahony (Clontarf), Hugh Hogan (St. Mary’s College).
Replacements: Hugh McGrath (Young Munster), Risteard Byrne (UCD), Liam Og Murphy (Young Munster), Frank Cogan (Clontarf), Brian Slater (UCC), Barry Keeshan (Dolphin), James Thompson (Ballynahinch).
SCOTLAND CLUB XV: Fraser Thomson (Melrose); Callum Anderson (Aberdeen Grammar), Ross Curle (Ayr), Dean Kelbrick (Glasgow Hawks), Dougie Fife (Currie); Lee Millar (Gala), Richard Snedden (Currie); John Cox (Currie), Sean Crombie (Boroughmuir) (capt), Alan Brown (Dundee HSFP), Scott Sutherland (Ayr), Rory McKay (Glasgow Hawks), Graeme Dodds (Melrose), Rob Colhoun (Ayr), Ross Weston (Currie).
Replacements: Fraser Brown (Heriot’s), Neil Dymock (Dundee HSFP), Gary Holborn (Melrose), Richard Hawkins (Dundee HSFP), Andrew Rose (Boroughmuir), Morgan Ward (Aberdeen Grammar), Danny Gilmour (Stirling County).
Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
Touch Judges: John Carvill, Kevin Beggs (both Ireland)
Pre-Match Links –
Ireland Club XV: Previous Matches –
2006: Ireland Club XV 30 Scotland Club XV 13, Donnybrook
2008: Ireland Club XV 20 Scotland Club XV 15, Donnybrook