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Dublin: 8 °C Friday 25 April, 2014

Round up: Irish players in England

We counted 19 Irishmen in action in this weekend’s Premiership and Championship fixtures.

Gareth Steenson was in superb form for Exeter.
Gareth Steenson was in superb form for Exeter.
Image: David Davies/PA Archive/Press Association Images

FOLLOWING ON FROM our update on how the Irish players in France got on over the weekend, here’s something similar on our guys in England.

We counted 19 Irishmen in action in the two professional divisions across the water, and here’s how they fared.

Aviva Premiership

London Irish were beaten 15-3 on Friday night away to Sale, in what was the start of an era under new Irish president Mick Crossan. Unfortunately, Brian Smith’s men failed to get going and a penalty from out-half Ian Humphreys was all they had to show at the end of the game.

Tomás O’Leary played around 50 minutes at scrum-half, while Irish-qualified outside centre Fergus Mulchrone made his eighth Premiership start of the season. His partnership in midfield with Eamonn Sheridan has been a real plus for the Exiles this season, with the former Leinster inside centre remarkably yet to miss a single minute of London Irish’s league campaign.

Sheridan was one of the better players for the London club again, making eight carries and seven tackles. Jamie Hagan played the closing 32 minutes of the game at tighthead prop, but has yet to start a Premiership game for the club.

Bath once again showed their strength with a 14-3 win at home to Harlequins. Peter Stringer, who recently made his 100th European club appearance, was at scrum-half at The Rec as Conor O’Shea’s ‘Quins side were dismissed. The 36-year-old played 60 minutes on his ninth start of the season.

Gareth Steenson‘s goal-kicking was crucial to Exeter’s 16-3 victory over Newcastle at Sandy Park the same day. The ex-Ulster out-half slotted a conversion and three penalties for an 11-point haul, missing just once from the tee. Ian Whitten was in good form at outside centre too, making nine carries for 57 metres of gains.

Danny Barnes was directly opposite the former Ulster man, starting at 13 for the Falcons. The one-time Munster centre only had five carries but beat two defenders and managed a clean line-break, as well as completing 11 tackles.

Ireland U20 international George McGuigan played the closing 15 minutes of the game for Newcastle. The hooker was making his eighth appearance of the league season, but has yet to start at in the Premiership. The 20-year-old is a player of strong potential.

Niall Morris was part of the Leicester Tigers team that endured a difficult day’s work at Allianz Park on Saturday, losing 49-10 to Saracens. The 25-year-old was shifted to the right wing due to the return of Matthew Tait at fullback, and had limited involvement on what was his 11th start in all competitions.

In the final Premiership game of the weekend, John Andress was a substitute in Worcester’s 12-6 defeat away to Gloucester. The Warriors have yet to win a league game this season, and having only made two starts in this campaign, the 29-year-old tighthead prop has had little chance to make a difference.

Greene King IPA Championship

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Ex-Ulster and Connnacht out-half couldn’t prevent a Jersey loss this weekend. ©INPHO/James Crombie.

Ireland U18, U19 and U20 international Conor Carey started at tighthead prop in Ealing Trailfinder’s 21-7 loss at home to Bristol. Having come through the Ulster academy, the Ealing native joined the Trailfinders at the start of the season and has made five starts so far.

Sean O’Connell is also a native of Ealing region, and spent several years with Ulster. The No. 8 played for Ireland at U19 level, where he also started against Bristol on Saturday in his fourth appearance of the season.

Another former Ulster player, Niall O’Connor, kicked Jersey’s only points of the day as the islanders went down 10-3 away to Moseley. The out-half has been ever present for Jersey since joining during the summer, but will be keen to help them improve on their current 11th position.

Also in the starting Jersey team were Mark McCrea and Sean McCarthy. The latter, an Ireland U18 international made his 11th start of the season at loosehead prop, while former Connacht and Ulster man McCrea made his 10th on the left wing.

Former Ireland international Neil Best lined out at No. 8 as London Scottish secured a 13-5 win away to London Welsh in a top-of-the-table clash. The 34-year-old has been an integral part of the side since joining from Worcester.

On the losing side was Daniel Browne, the Irish-qualified lock who has had spells with Grenoble, Northampton and Bath. The 34-year-old was making his 10th start of the season and played in the second row. London Welsh remain league leaders despite the loss as home, still five points ahead of their neighbours.

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Round up: Irish players in France

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