Sport Rugby

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Cronin leads Irish club assault

England Counties v Ireland Club XV,

Stourbridge, 7.30

With 12 clubs represented, the team represents a blend of youth and experience. Dolphin's scrum-half Sam Cronin leads the side, with the experienced Daragh O'Shea, Stephen Kelly and Barry Keeshan outside him.

Up front, Shannon hooker Mike Essex will look to exert his physical influence, while the back row of Old Belvedere's Richie Leydon, Dolphin's Barry O'Mahony and Cork Constitution's Frank Cogan will take some stopping with ball in hand.

Coach David O'Mahony has gone for 10 Munster-based players -- a reflection on the domestic game's power base.

England have picked from just eight clubs and have trusted combinations in key positions but, with players like Clontarf duo Aaron Dundon and Simon Crawford alongside Blackrock's Darragh Fitzpatrick on the bench, Ireland should have the strength to win on English soil for the first time.

Verdict: Away win

Ireland Club XV -- D O'Shea (Clontarf); J Cleary (Galwegian), E Moloney (Dolphin), E Ryan (Cork Constitution), S Kelly (Shannon); B Keeshan (Dolphin), S Cronin (Dolphin, capt); M Gately (Cork Constitution), M Essex (Shannon), S Shawe (Ballymena); P Huntly (Blackrock), F Walsh (Shannon); R Leydon (Old Belvedere), B O'Mahony (Dolphin), F Cogan (Cork Constitution). Reps: A Dundon (Clontarf), C Condon (Dolphin), S Crawford (Clontarf), H Hogan (St Mary's), C Sheridan (UL Bohemian), D Fitzpatrick (Blackrock), S Scanlon (UCC).

England Counties XV -- F Neale (London Scottish); S Ulph (Esher), J Harrison (Tynedale), S Jewell (Esher), D Howells (London Scottish); J Brown (London Scottish), L Baldwin (Blackheath); J Williams (Tynedale), J Graham (Tynedale), S Heard (Redruth); M Owen (Macclesfield), T Bason (Blackheath, capt); D Legge (Cambridge), D Fox (Cambridge), T Powell (Cambridge). Reps: M Hall (Blaydon), T Warren (Esher), B Harris (Huddersfield), A Nash (Rugby Lions), T Richardson (Stourbridge), M Riley (Sedgley Park), S Parsons (Harrogate).

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