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Setanta Challenge Cup
5 May 2009, 6:46 am
By Chris Byrne
The Setanta Challenge Cup (holders Munster) clash this weekend between the Eddie O'Sullivan's US Eagles and Declan Kidney's Ireland doesn't exactly appear to be capturing the imagination of the good citizens of San Jose with little or no mention in local media.
Then again at this point there's not much mention of it on the official US Rugby website whose information centres on the USA Rugby Men's Division 1,2 & 3 Club championship semi finals to be played on Saturday in neighbouring Colorado and reports of the progress of the US Sevens side in London last weekend.

What we do know about a game that will be played in Santa Clara University's Bucks Stadium, is that Eddie O'Sullivan has 13 players unavailable to him while Declan Kidney travelled with 12 uncapped players and the Irish coach makes just one change from the side that started against Canada last weekend, Mike Ross coming into the front row in place of Tom Court.

Munsteman Ross (Harlequins) replaced Court after 54 minutes of the win over Canada and his inclusion from the off means that Tony Buckley moves to loose-head prop.

Perhaps not surprisingly given the short lead-in, Ireland took their time to get going against Canada and Kidney took into this into consideration before making just this the one change. "We thought long and hard about making further changes to the side, but with only two full training sessions under their belts before the Canada game, we thought that it would be better to give an opportunity for the same players and combinations to find their feet a bit more with some more sessions to work off." He said.

"We felt that after last week's game against Canada that the players who started deserved another chance to improve on that performance.
"This tour and also the Churchill Cup is all about building a base of experience with the national coaches and it is particularly tough on the players not selected in the starting XV as they have been training just as hard as the players picked and were pushing for inclusion this week. The majority of those who do not start on Sunday or are not in the 22 will all have further opportunities in the Churchill Cup."

The squad were joined yesterday by Leinster lock Devon Toner, who has been called up as cover for Mick O'Driscoll who picked up a slight wrist strain against Canada, and by backs coach Alan Gaffney who will remain with the squad for the Churchill Cup.

Ireland: G Duffy; B Murphy, D Cave, I Whitten, I Dowling; I Keatley, P Stringer;T Buckley, R Best capt, M Ross; B Casey, M O'Driscoll; J Muldoon, N Ronan, D Leamy. Replacements: S Cronin, T Court, R Caldwell, D Ryan, E Reddan, N O'Connor, D Hurley.

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