Following their 58-10 warm up win over Malta in Bray yesterday, Rugby League Ireland has finalised their 22-man squad for their 2017 Rugby League World Cup European Pool B Qualifiers against Russia and Spain in October.
James Kelly who scored a hat-trick is included, one of two players from Dublin City Exiles, as is two-try Galway Tribesman Alan McMahon, part of seven selected from the domestic and student set up.
Warrington brothers George and Toby King are in contention after their Super League Grand Final heartbreak along with St Helens departing full-back Shannon McDonnell who is hoping to make his debut. Most capped and highest points scorer for Mark Aston’s men, Wakefield’s Liam Finn, again captains the party.
“I’m looking forward to playing and captaining Ireland in the World Cup qualifiers once more,” Finn said. “Nothing will surpass the pride I take in playing for Ireland alongside some of my closest friends. It’s a tough ask in terms of logistics but luckily, once we get together as a team all that matters is enjoyment of rugby and our togetherness.
“To qualify for next year’s World Cup is our goal and to get there essential, in my opinion, for the continued development of rugby league in Ireland. Hopefully we get the chance of a lifetime to play in Australia and I’m sure the qualifying games will live to expectation.
“Ní Neart Go Cur Le Chéile.”
Ireland have one further warm up match, against Jamaica in Bray next weekend.
Ireland 22=Man Squad
Gareth Gill (Ballynahinch Rabbitohs), Chris Hall (Belfast Met Scholars), Joe Keyes (Bradford Bulls), James Kelly, Mikey Russell (Dublin City Exiles), Alan McMahon (Galway Tribesmen), Luke Ambler (Halifax), Oliver Roberts (Huddersfield Giants), Matthew Cahoon (Ireland Students), Greg McNally (Leigh Centurions), Casey Dunne (Longhorns RL), Will Hope (Oldham Roughyeds), James Hasson (Parramatta Eels), Danny Bridge (Redcliffe Dolphins), Matty Hadden (Rochdale Hornets), Shannon McDonnell (St Helens), Liam Finn, Scott Grix (Wakefield Trinity Wildcats), George King, Toby King, Joe Philbin (Warrington Wolves), Dave Allen (Whitehaven)