Byrne must fight for place
St Mary's College have announced an unchanged side from that which defeated Garryowen for Saturday's AIB League Division One clash with Buccaneers at Ballinasloe. Leinster prop Emmet Byrne, who has missed the last two matches must content himself with a place on the bench.
Byrne damaged an ankle in St Mary's defeat by Lansdowne and subsequently missed the game against Ballymena. He then went on a short holiday to the United States over Christmas, returning last Wednesday. St Mary's had him on the bench for the Garryowen match, and he came on early in the second half, but the club have kept faith in John Maher and Peter Coyle as their props for Saturday's game.
There was good news for two St Mary's players who have longterm injuries, Garth Gannon and international wing Denis Hickie. Gannon underwent a successful operation on a shoulder injury and should be playing again before the end of the season. Hickie, who has had a disc problem in his back, will be available for selection by the end of the month.
St Mary's only concern centres on the bench. Richard Ormond suffered a leg injury while playing for the seconds at the weekend and is considered doubtful. Buccaneers have Owen Cobbe available again and expect to be able to call upon former international Noel Mannion.
Garryowen are almost certain to be without Ben Cronin, who damaged a shoulder at Templeville Road for the game against Cork Constitution. The latter are still without Frankie Sheahan and Conor Kehilly and await a medical report on centre Alan Byrne.
Blackrock College, who play Clontarf on Saturday, have an injury doubt hanging over scrumhalf Andrew Boyd, who will see a specialist later in the week to ascertain whether a shoulder injury requires surgery. Brian Carey is doubtful with a less severe shoulder problem, while Hubie Kos, Robert Casey and Paul Jordan should be available.
Clontarf have been given a double boost with regard to injuries. The fear that Con Power had broken ribs has lifted, with the injury being diagnosed as bruising, but he may still miss the game at Stradbrook. Leinster flanker Declan O'Brien was expected to miss the entire season with a knee injury but it has proved less serious than first thought.
It now appears that it is the medial and not the cruciate ligament that was damaged and that it was torn and not ruptured.
Lansdowne, who lost their first match of the season last Saturday, have made just one positional switch for the match against Galwegians. Former schools international Gordon D'Arcy moves to full back with Rory Kearns named on the left wing.
In Division Two Old Belvedere are without Tim Mannix, Stephen Dods, Colm Gleeson and Simon Keogh for their game against DLSP. The Bective Rangers game against Old Crescent has not been postponed yet but will be if Bective half-backs Mark Edwards and Bryn Cunningham are named in the Ulster squad for the Saturday's European Cup semi-final against Stade Francais at Ravenhill.
Meanwhile, Gavin Hickie, a cousin of Denis Hickie, has been named as captain of the Ireland under-19 team. He is also included on the bench for the St Mary's game against Buccaneers. The young hooker, a son of former international number eight Denis Hickie, will lead Ireland in a friendly international against Italy in Treviso on Saturday week.
Ireland, who won the Word Youths Championship last season, enjoyed a three-day get together last weekend, playing two practice matches. A squad for the Italy game will be announced later today. This season's World Under-19 championships will he held in Wales from March 26th to April 4th.