Terenure men hoping to help Ireland retain Dalriada Cup

TERENURE College RFC will be at the heart of one of the biggest events in amateur rugby as Energia Park hosts the Club International Series decider between Ireland Club XV and Scotland Club XV this Friday, writes Ross O’Donoghue.

The sides met in Scotland last weekend with four Terenure men lining out among the most exciting players in the Energia All-Ireland League.

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Michael Melia of Terenure College will be hoping to again help propel Ireland to victory in the Club International Series

What’s more, Terenure stalwart Mark Hamilton is Team Manager while Patrick ‘Rala’ O’Reilly is Baggage Master.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Hamilton. “As well as the four lads on the pitch last Friday, there were another three in the wider squad. It’s a privilege for all of us to be a part of it.

“All of our friends and families and the wider Terenure community will be attending this week. I’m in no doubt the purple, white and black will be there in the crowd.”

The Club International Series is a two-game affair with Irish and Scottish selections competing for the Dalriada Cup.

Ireland Clubs are the current holders of the trophy and took a major step towards retaining it following Friday’s 39-17 win in Galashiels in the Scottish Borders.

Mick Melia played in the 19-19 draw that secured the trophy in 2019 and the ‘Nure man wants to do it right this time in Donnybrook.

“It was a bit of a weird feeling to win with a draw last year” he said. You want to kick on. You want to be able to celebrate properly. You certainly wouldn’t want to lose at home, even if you did win the series.”

Melia is 24, but one of the more seasoned players at this level, having started the last five consecutive games. Peter Claffey, Adam Clarkin and Matthew Byrne all earned their first caps off the bench in Game One.

Byrne’s try helped give the Irish a 22-point head start in this week’s decider. It also ensured a highest ever points tally in a Club International.

“It was a brilliant feeling to score,” he says. “I wasn’t expecting it. We were fairly under the pump when we came on. When we did win the ball back we held onto it well, went through a few phases and it opened up for me. The crowd were really urging us on as well.”

Home advantage should bring a big crowd with it on Friday and a travelling faithful is expected from Dublin 6W.  Adam Clarkin says: “There’s a strong contingent of us that have come up through the club since underage. I’ve been playing with some of these lads for 20 years. It would be all the sweeter for us to do it on a bigger stage.”

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