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An Irish Rugby XV Of Players From Non-Traditional Rugby Counties

An Irish Rugby XV Of Players From Non-Traditional Rugby Counties
By Conor Neville

We have set ourselves the formidable task of picking an Irish rugby XV from non-traditional rugby counties. Those areas deemed 'traditional' are, of course, Dublin, Limerick, Cork, Antrim/Belfast, Wicklow and Galway.

Important: All of these players must have been capped by Ireland at senior level, so DON'T be pushing Denis Buckley or Jack Carty at us.

PS: We've surely missed some, so throw us your suggestions.

1.  Marcus Horan (Clare)

Like his partner in the front-row, Horan was born in Clare (Clonlara) but was educated in St. Munchin's.

2. Keith Wood (Clare)

Having attended St. Munchin's and played for Garryowen, Woody is perceived as being within the orbit of Limerick rugby, but he was born in Killaloe, Clare.

An underage hurler with Clare, Wood was recently involved in coaching local team 'Smith O'Brien's', an arrangement which he enjoyed but which left him deeply annoyed by the shape of the hurling season.

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3. Tadhg Furlong (Wexford)

New Ross born Furlong broke into the Irish squad this year, and came good at the right time to earn a spot on the plane for the World Cup. Only 22 yet.

4. Iain Henderson (Armagh)

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A little bit of a stretch here, but Henderson is from Craigavon in County Armagh originally, before attending Belfast Royal Academy.

5. Moss Keane (Kerry)

Spoilt for choice here. Second row is one of those positions rich in fellows from unexpected counties (unlike either scrum half or out-half). Keane faces down competition from county man Mick Galwey, Tipp's Donnacha Ryan, and Meath's Devin Toner.

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6. Alan Quinlan (Tipperary)

As non-rugby counties go, Tipperary holds up well, with Donncha Ryan currently battling away for a spot in the World Cup team.

Quinlan's most famous act in an Irish shirt, is scoring a try and injuring himself in one of the most tense games Ireland have ever played in, the one point win over Argentina in the 2003 World Cup.

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7. Sean O'Brien (Carlow)

Vies with his great back row parter (see no.8) for the captaincy. When asked to instance a rugby player from an unusual location, most will opt for Sean O'Brien.

8. Willie Duggan (Kilkenny)

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Smoking, drinking, not training too hard," was George Hook's assessment of Willie Duggan's Ireland career before placing him in his all-time Irish XV.

The legendary Duggan owned the no.8 shirt from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s, being part of Ireland's Triple Crown winning side of 1982.

9. Kieran Marmion (Galway via Barnet)

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The half-backs have our heart broke. The traditional counties have them on lockdown. We are really reaching with our out-half selection, but we have had to admit defeat here. Keiran Marmion grew up in Barnet, supported Wales as a kid and plays for Connacht. As unusual a background for an Irish scrum half as there has been.

His father was from the Galway hurling stronghold of Loughrea.

When I was growing up I was supporting Wales, but I started coming over here when I was 16 through the Exiles. One of my dad's friends got me involved in that, said I might enjoy it and I did. The first game was actually out here against Connacht U-18s. After that game was when I got called up for the Irish Youths camp, so I started from there.

10. Paddy Wallace (Down)

The out-half position was especially problematic as it has largely been held down by men from Irish rugby strongholds - Kyle, Humphreys (Belfast), O'Gara, Keyes, McGann (Cork), Campbell, Sexton, Quinn (Dublin), Elwood (Galway).

We were on the verge of plumping for Elwood on the grounds that Galway is the most unlikely location which has produced an Irish rugby outhalf.

But the news comes to us that Paddy Wallace was born in Dundonald, which is technically in Co. Down. It'll do.

11. Andrew Trimble (Derry)

Trimble was educated at Coleraine Academical Institution and spent one year in Queen's before dropping out to study Theology at Belfast Bible College.

12. Gordon D'Arcy (Wexford)

Fair enough, he was a student at Clongowes, so this doesn't exactly count as a triumph for the underdog, but none of this changes the fact that he was born in Wexford - a brother in arms with Tadhg Furlong.

13. Robbie Henshaw (Westmeath)

 

Athlone and Marist College's Henshaw is now the people's favourite for the 13. shirt. Began his career with Buccaneers in the AIL.

14. Tommy Bowe (Monaghan)

Tommy Bowe remains as Monaghan's only Irish and British Lion. The Emyvale winger has had a stellar career, playing for Ulster and the Ospreys, and winning the grand slam with Ireland in 2009.

15. Gavin Duffy (Mayo)

Featured eleven times for Ireland during the Eddie O'Sullivan era, Duffy's Mayo Gaelic football background has been heavily flagged in the media.

Played on the Mayo minor team which lost the 1999 All-Ireland minor final with Down.

 

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