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Alan Quinlan
Inpho/Dan Sheridan
Final Call in Murrayfield
8 August 2007, 10:17 am
By Pat Geraghty
Brian Carney and Alan Quinlan will be among a few hoping to do enough on Saturday in Murrayfield to ensure inclusion when Eddie O'Sullivan names his RWC squad on Sunday.
Carney will win his third cap when he lines out on the wing while Quinlan is named on a replacement bench that features no recognised second row cover for starting duo, Paul O'Connell and Malcolm O'Kelly. In that scenario it would appear that O'Sullivan may well be considering using the Tipperary stalwart as back five cover in France.

Listening to most seasoned observers it appears that it might be a straight contest between the Munster wing and Tommy Bowe for one of the back three places yet to be finalised whereas Quinlan is competing in a hugely competitive area.

The Tipperary man has real World Cup pedigree, having made his debut in the 1999 competition and then scoring the all important try in the 2003 World Cup win against Argentina, dislocating his shoulder in the process.

And now the man from Limerick Junction who made his international debut as a Clanwilliam clubman for Ireland Youths against Scotland in 1993, returns to Scotland on Saturday looking to secure a place in a third Irish World Cup place.

"Of course I'm delighted to be in the final shake up. Who wouldn't be but particularly coming from where I was earlier in the season. Its great to be in the final 37 and be involved in the final shake-up. It's a nerve wrecking experience really. I mean last week there was 11 very good players cut who had been very professional, acquitted themselves well in training. I mean it was a credit to them they way they trained and yes there was sadness to see them cut but at the same time a sense of relief for me that I wasn't among them. When you see the likes of Roger Wilson and Johnny O'Connor, fellas who I'm directly up against, left off, it makes me realise how lucky I am to be still involved. I think it's the most competitive and best Irish squad that has been assembled. The competition throughout the squad is just amazing. There are a lot of good players going to be left at home and I just hope I'm not one of them.

" Just from my own point of view, there's so much competition in the back row. I think you could pick three or four different back-row combinations and they could compete with any international back row with ease. That's the sort of depth you're looking at in this squad."

What Quinlan alluded to when he talked of where he was earlier in the season he was referring to the suspension picked up in the course of the Heineken Cup just weeks before Eddie O'Sullivan announced his Six Nations squad.
"That (suspension) was a big blow. It's every player's ambition to play in the World Cup. It's the ultimate goal. I've been lucky enough to play in two. But knew back then I was down the pecking order.
" I was finding a bit of form with Munster and hoping to get involved in the Six Nations. Then with the suspension that was out of the question, so yes it was hugely disappointing.
"Then when I got back playing I was hoping to get a good run in the Heineken Cup, make a drive again for the final. So bad enough getting knocked out, that but it just added to the disappointment when we got beaten in the quarter-final and made things harder. Another stumbling block if you like.
" But I had a positive end to the season in the Magners League and was lucky enough to get selected to go to Argentina. Personally I felt I did ok, felt that tour went well for me. What it did was, it gave me confidence. The most important thing for me was to get my leg back in the door. Get involved in an Irish team again. Get in around the scene, experience getting an Irish jersey on my back again. And getting the Argentina trip was a great boost to me.
And so back on the international scene Quinlan to no-one's surprise was included in O'Sullivan extended RWC training squad.
" I've had a great pre-season. It's in fact the first pre-season in three or four years that I've come in with no injuries, no bangs or knocks and being able to progress week by week with the fitness and the weights. So I feel I'm in the best shape I have been in years. "

And now having survived the first cull, he has as he says himself one more opportunity to put his hand up.
"Yes that's it really. It's great to be in the 37, so close to it. But it's nerve wracking to be honest and I'm sure all the other lads who are 50/50 if you like, are feeling the same.
"Of course there are guys who are playing Saturday who are definitely going to the World Cup. Everyone knows that. Then there's guys who are getting an opportunity to maybe stake a claim or maybe those who are possibly deemed not fancied to go but who in fact could well be already on the plane as we speak. So there's a load of permutations.
"There might be what, three four places up for grabs, there are seven of us going for them. So yes it's difficult in one way but it's a good complaint to have to be involved this late in the day. After the lows of the suspension I'm proud of the fact I've put myself in this position, I'm grateful to get the opportunity.

"It's been a tough week. Lot of nervous anticipation. It really hit home this week that next Sunday there are going to be very disappointed, I'd say devastated people because it's everyone's dream to go to the World Cup.
It's not your standard week where your squad is named and that's it. Because there's so much more to this game. Lots of different thoughts going through your head. Different emotions. But you have to try and put that aside. Because after all there's an international to be played. Its an international against Scotland in Murrayfield. I'm sure the Scotland side will be well up for it, players there trying to impress. So the focus has to be on that, work towards that and let whatever happens on Sunday happens on Sunday.

"Look I'm delighted to be still involved. Still in with a chance. I'm grateful to all the coaches both here (Ireland) and in Munster for helping me along to this stage.

Just happy to be in the mix at this stage, that's all. Hope all goes well on Saturday and then fingers crossed.................


Ireland: Geordan Murphy; Brian Carney, Brian O'Driscoll (Captain), Gavin Duffy, Tommy Bowe; Paddy Wallace, Isaac Boss; Bryan Young, Jerry Flannery, Simon Best; Malcolm O'Kelly; Paul O'Connell; Neil Best, Stephen Ferris, Jamie Heaslip.

Replacements: Rory Best; John Hayes, Alan Quinlan, Keith Gleeson, Eoin Reddan, Ronan O'Gara, Shane Horgan.


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