The Ireland Club team are back at Temple Hill in Cork – the scene of last year’s exciting win over England Counties – as they look to gain revenge on their Scottish counterparts and reclaimed the Dalriada Cup.
ULSTER BANK CLUB INTERNATIONAL MATCH: Friday, February 7
IRELAND CLUB XV v SCOTLAND CLUB XV, Temple Hill, Cork Constitution FC, 7.30pm
Team News: Players from nine different Ulster Bank League clubs have been included in the Ireland Club team by head coach Tom Tierney for Friday’s fixture against their Scottish counterparts in Cork.
Lansdowne, the reigning Ulster Bank League Division 1A champions, have five representatives in the starting line-up, while current table toppers Clontarf and Old Belvedere are rewarded with two starters apiece.
Clontarf’s Michael McGrath, who currently leads the Division 1A try-scoring charts with 10 tries, starts on the left wing.
The Ireland Club side takes on the Scotland Clubs XV at Temple Hill, the home ground of Cork Constitution FC, at 7.30pm this Friday before facing the England Counties outfit at Mowden Park in Newcastle) on Friday, February 21.
Ireland will have revenge on their minds against the Scots as they lost 30-18 when they met at Millbrae last March. Scotland will be defending the Dalriada Cup – the trophy on offer for the winners of this annual clash.
Backs Cian Aherne, Stuart Morrow and captain Gerry Hurley all started against Scotland last time out, while Colm McMahon and William Ryan are the only survivors in the pack. Charlie Butterworth and Sam Cronin were on the bench for the 2013 fixture.
In a late change, Ger Slattery’s call-up to the Munster bench means that Lansdowne’s Tyrone Moran will start at hooker with Cork Con’s own Andrew O’Driscoll added to the replacements.
Tierney, who won eight caps for Ireland, is in charge of the Ireland Club side for 2014. He is the current Garryowen head coach.
He is assisted by fellow former international Mick O’Driscoll who is part of the current Cork Con coaching team. Garryowen’s Seamus McDermott fills the role of team manager.
Meanwhile, Heriot’s second-row Murray Douglas will captain the Scotland Club outfit for their first game of 2014.
The 24-year-old returns to the side having won two caps in last year’s campaign and being part of the team that beat Ireland at Millbrae almost twelve months ago.
Four changes have been made to the Scotland starting line-up – prop Ewan McQuillin and hooker George Turner have returned to training with Edinburgh this week and are replaced by Ayr’s Nick Cox and Fergus Scott respectively, who are promoted from the bench.
Coming into the squad for the first time, in their places, are Aberdeen Grammar and former Scotland Under-20 prop Struan Cessford and Hawick hooker Lindsey Gibson.
Hawick’s Greg Cottrell will take the place of George Graham on the bench, while Gala’s Ewan Scott replaces team-mate Grant Somerville on the replacements list. These changes are due to injury.
IRELAND CLUB XV: Daniel Riordan (Old Belvedere RFC); Cian Aherne (Lansdowne FC), Stuart Morrow (Ballynahinch RFC), Mark Roche (Lansdowne FC), Michael McGrath (Clontarf FC); David Joyce (Clontarf FC), Gerry Hurley (Cork Constitution FC) (capt); Colm McMahon (St. Mary’s College RFC), Tyrone Moran (Lansdowne FC), Christy Condon (Dolphin RFC), Dean Moore (Old Belvedere RFC), Fergal Walsh (Terenure College RFC), Willie Earle (Lansdowne FC), Charlie Butterworth (Lansdowne FC), William Ryan (Cork Constitution FC).
Replacements: Andrew O’Driscoll (Cork Constitution FC), Ian Hirst (Clontarf FC), Declan Lavery (Old Belvedere RFC), Sean Walsh (Cashel RFC), James Ryan (Cork Constitution FC), Neil Cronin (Garryowen FC), Ritchie McMaster (Queen’s University RFC), Barry Daly (UCD RFC).
SCOTLAND CLUB XV: Nyle Godsmark (Edinburgh Accies); Erlend Oag (Aberdeen Grammar), Chris Auld (Gala/Edinburgh), Dean Kelbrick (Ayr), Craig Gossman (Ayr); Richard Mill (Melrose), Peter Jericevich (Ayr); George Hunter (Ayr/Glasgow Warriors), Fergus Scott (Ayr/Glasgow Warriors), Nick Cox (Ayr/Glasgow Warriors), Murray Douglas (Heriot’s) (capt), Callum Templeton (Ayr), Andrew Nagle (Melrose), Will Bordill (Stirling County/Glasgow Warriors), Jamie Swanson (Stirling County).
Replacements: Lindsey Gibson (Hawick), Rory Sutherland (Gala), Struan Cessford (Aberdeen Grammar), Andrew Redmayne (Glasgow Hawks/Glasgow Warriors), Gary Graham (Gala), Greg Cottrell (Hawick), Stuart Edwards (Stirling County), Ewan Scott (Gala).
Referee: Nick Cockburn (England)
Assistant Referees: Peter Fitzgibbon, Mark Connolly (both Ireland)
Pre-Match Quotes – Mick O’Driscoll (Ireland Club XV): “We can’t use any Academy or Development players, or any elite players, obviously we can’t use any Under-20s and I think it is right because it’s a proper ‘club’ team as such.
“The preparation has been quite good. It’s tough going I suppose for guys who have been playing on a Saturday and then going up to Portlaoise every Sunday morning for training.
“It’s a very difficult team to pick. I suppose the process is that each club gets the opportunity to nominate guys they think should be in it, we would have gone by that in one sense but did look outside that also.
“I suppose we stuck mainly to what the other coaches in their own clubs would have stuck with, and then we just broke it down. We looked at who played for the team before, and who was playing well at the moment.
“There are a lot of guys from Dublin in it and that’s a reflection of where the leagues are at right now.
“There will be guys who are disappointed, guys who weren’t in the broader squad who were disappointed, but that’s a reflection possibly of the good level of club rugby, particularly Division 1A, that’s there at the moment.”
Dean Kelbrick (Scotland Club XV): “Ireland are tough to play and I am expecting another hard match. They will have a decent crowd behind them in Cork.
“A lot of our team are pretty young, although, having trained with them and played against them in the RBS Premiership, I am confident they will be ready for the challenge.
“There is a lot of competition for places. It is an honour to play in representative games and come together with guys from other clubs to represent Scotland.”
Ireland Club XV: Recent Matches –