AIB Cup draw keeps Shannon and Garryowen apart

ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE champions Shannon have been kept apart from arch-rivals Garryowen in the semi-finals of the AIB Cup, the draw for which was made yesterday.

Shannon have been drawn away to Belfast Harlequins, and despite having to travel to Belfast they should be good enough to advance to the final.

That could well mean that they have to face their Limerick opponents in the decider, as Garryowen have been favoured with a home fixture against Clonakilty in the second semi-final. Both games take place on 31 March.

Munster’s remaining representatives in the junior cup, Crosshaven and Mallow, have both been favoured with home draws.

Mallow take on Coleraine and Crosshaven meet Leinster side Seapoint, both of them fixed for 17 March.

Following the completion of the semi-finals, both finals will be played in Dubarry Park, Athlone on Saturday 14 April.

Meanwhile Ireland have named a 28-man squad for the first AIB Club International of the season, against England Counties at Donnybrook next Friday.

The game is part of the IRFU Community Rugby Programme and gives non-contracted club players the opportunity to win representative honours for Ireland and to showcase the club game at the highest possible level.

The game will be televised live by RTÉ with a 7.05pm kick off. The AIB Club International side will also play an away fixture against a similar Scotland selection on the eve of the Scotland v Ireland Championship game next month.

The initial squad has been selected throughout the AIB League season to date with club coaches asked to put forward names of opposition players that have impressed them. In addition to this, a four-man team of selection advisors including Hugh McCaughey (Dungannon), Finbarr Dennehy (UCC), Stephen Rooney (Lansdowne) and Ciaran Smyth (Corinthians) have been monitoring games and recommending players for consideration.

The recommendations of the club coaches and selection advisors were then narrowed down by the Ireland management team of coach Geoff Moylan, manager Mick Galwey, assistant coach Gerald McCarter and assistant manager Donal Brennan.

The selected squad represents 13 clubs from the AIB League from all four provinces. The team will be named on Monday.

IRELAND (squad): Forwards: F Cogan (Cork Constitution), K Corrigan (Lansdowne), S Crawford (Clontarf), M Crockett (Dublin University), C Hartigan (Buccaneers), L Hogan (Shannon), A Maher (Lansdowne), P Malone (Garryowen), R McGrath (Dolphin), S Nolan (Terenure College), D O’Connell (Galwegians), M O’Connor (Cork Constitution), D Quinlan (Shannon), S Shawe (Ballymena)

Backs: A Barrett (Galwegians), P Brophy (St.Mary’s College), M Bruce (Buccanneers), J Cleary (Galwegians), A Finn (Shannon), K Hartigan (Garryowen), C Healy (Cork Constitution), B Keeshan (Dolphin), P Magee (Dungannon), R McCarter (Dungannon), N O’Brien (Clontarf), F O’Loughlin (Clontarf), G Telford (Dungannon), A Thompson (Shannon).

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