No room for O'Leary in Ireland squad

Tomás O'Leary scores a try against Wales during last year's Six Nations campaign. The scrumhalf has not been included in the Ireland squad for this season's curtain-raiser against Italy. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Tomás O'Leary scores a try against Wales during last year's Six Nations campaign. The scrumhalf has not been included in the Ireland squad for this season's curtain-raiser against Italy. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

a
 

Rugby:Tomás O’Leary has been dropped from the Ireland squad for the forthcoming Six Nations campaign. The Munster scrumhalf has not been included in Declan Kidney’s 32-man selection and has instead been demoted to the Irish Wolfhounds panel.

With O’Leary making way, Eoin Reddan and Peter Stringer will contest the number nine jersey for the opening clash in Italy on February 5th.

Tony Buckley’s fall from grace has seen the prop discarded by the management team but his Munster teammate John Hayes has been retained in the first team squad. Buckley had been Kidney’s first choice at the start of the autumn internationals but has now fallen out of favour even at provincial level.

After a string of impressive performances for Leinster, Mike Ross could now be in line to add to his meagre tally of just two caps. Despite concerns over his availability, Jerry Flannery is included but Rory Best and Sean Cronin provide Kidney with options.

Those options are thin on the ground at fullback where Gavin Duffy’s return from injury sees him included as the only recognised number 15 in the squad. Luke Fitzgerald may be Kidney’s preferred option while Keith Earls also has limited experience in the position.

Connacht's Mike McCarthy is the only uncapped player in the squad, the 29-year-old backrow player rewarded for some eye-catching displays in the Magners League.

“As always, the selection of the squad is never an easy one, but certainly the level of competition in each position is probably as great as it has ever been over the last two years,” Kidney said this afternoon. “Players have been really pushing their performances for their provinces, so that level of competition can only be good.

“That translates into more competition for each place in the squad, and then for the first selection against Italy, which can only be a good thing coming into the championship. As we know from last year, and every other time we have faced Italy, they represent a greater threat every year.

“The addition of their teams in the Magners League is building their experience, and I think that will have an even greater influence on their national side for the championship. The key for us is to work hard in setting the foundations for the tournament in our first week in camp, and our only focus will be on that opening game against Italy.”

Ireland squad

Backs:Tommy Bowe (Ospreys), Gordon D'Arcy (Landowne - Leinster), Gavin Duffy (Galwegians - Connacht), Keith Earls (Thomond - Munster), Luke Fitzgerald (Blackrock - Leinster), Shane Horgan (Boyne - Leinster), Ronan O' Gara (Cork Constitution - Munster), Brian O'Driscoll (UCD - Leinster), Eoin Reddan (Landowne - Leinster), Jonathan Sexton (St. Mary's College - Leinster), Peter Stringer (Shannon - Munster), Andrew Trimble (Ballymena - Ulster), Paddy Wallace (Ballymena - Ulster)

Forwards:Rory Best (Banbridge - Ulster), Tom Court (Malone - Ulster), Sean Cronin (Buccaneers - Connacht), Leo Cullen (Blackrock - Leinster), Stephen Ferris (Dungannon - Ulster), Jerry Flannery (Shannon - Munster), John Hayes (Bruff - Munster), Cian Healy (Clontarf - Leinster), Jamie Heaslip (Naas - Leinster), Shane Jennings (St. Mary's College - Leinster), Denis Leamy (Cork Constitution - Munster), Mike McCarthy (Buccaneers - Connacht), Donncha O'Callaghan (Cork Constitution - Munster), Paul O'Connell (Young Munster - Munster), Sean O'Brien (Clontarf - Leinster), Mick O'Driscoll (Cork Constitution - Munster), Michael Ross (Clontarf - Leinster), Rhys Ruddock (St. Mary's College - Leinster), David Wallace (Garryowen - Munster)

Fixtures

Sat, Feb 5th
Italy v Ireland

Sun, Feb 13th
Ireland v France

Sun, Feb 27th
Scotland v Ireland

Sat, Mar 12th
Wales v Ireland

Sat, Mar 19th
Ireland v England

Ireland Wolfhounds

Backs:Isaac Boss (Terenure College - Leinster), Ian Humphreys (Ballymena - Ulster), Denis Hurley (Cork Constitution - Munster), Keith Matthews (Buccaneers - Connacht), Fergus McFadden(Old Belvedere - Leinster), Johne Murphy (Young Munster - Munster), Niall O'Connor (Belfast Harlequins - Ulster), Tomas O'Leary (Dolphin - Munster), Eoin O'Malley (Old Belvedere - Leinster), A.N. Other

Forwards:Nigel Brady (Dungannon - Ulster), Tony Buckley (Shannon - Munster), Willie Faloon (Ballynahinch - Ulster), Jamie Hagan (Galway Corinthians - Connacht), Chris Henry (Ballymena - Ulster), Kevin McLaughlin (St. Mary's College - Leinster), Dominic Ryan (Lansdowne - Leinster), Donnacha Ryan (Shannon - Munster), Devin Toner (Lansdowne - Leinster), Dan Tuohy (Ballymena - Ulster), Damien Varley (Garryowen - Munster), Brett Wilkinson (Galwegians - Connacht)

Fixtures

Fri, Jan 28th
Scotland A v Irish Wolfhounds

Fri, Feb 4th
Irish Wolfhounds v England Saxons

a