Offaly man in Ireland 7s squad for Olympic Qualifier tournament
Director of Ireland 7s, Anthony Eddy has confirmed the 13-man squad to travel to Colomiers in France to compete at the Rugby Europe Olympic Qualification Tournament this weekend.
Tullamore's Jordan Conroy, a mainstay in the set-up, has been named and will be crucial if Ireland are to secure Olympic qualification at this hurdle.
The overall winner of the competition will earn a place at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, while the teams finishing in 2nd and 3rd place will have a final opportunity to qualify for the games via the World Repechage which will take place in 2020.
Having finished in second place at the Rugby Europe Grand Prix in Moscow last month, Ireland are second seeds and head up Pool B at the tournament and are drawn alongside familiar rivals Spain and Russia. The pool is completed by Ukraine, who booked their place in Colomiers after finishing second behind Lithuania in the Rugby Europe Sevens Trophy Series.
The side is captained by Billy Dardis and features the likes of experienced Irish 7s Internationals Ian Fitzpatrick, Terry Kennedy, Harry McNulty and Mark Roche, who have all been a part of the programme since 2015.
Hugo Keenan and Foster Horan return from injuries and are both included for their first tournament since Hong Kong, where Ireland claimed a place as a core side on next season’s World Series.
Jordan Conroy, Shane Daly, Adam Leavy, Greg O’Shea and Bryan Mollen are all familiar faces and Jack Kelly made his 7s debut at the London 7s in May.
Speaking ahead of the qualifiers, Eddy said: "The season so far has had a lot of positives for this group, with success in Hong Kong and additional learning opportunities in London and Paris on the World Series but one of the key targets for this season is Olympic Qualification."
"There are some very strong sides competing in Colomiers at the weekend, but they are sides that we have come up against over the past numbers of seasons so the players are aware of what’s ahead of them and what needs to be done to achieve their goal of qualification."
The tournament, which will be live streamed on RugbyEurope.tv takes place at the Stade Michel Bendicichou in Colomiers and features World Series sides Ireland, France, England and Spain, while Germany, Russia and Portugal have all challenged in Europe over recent years.
Already qualified for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo are Fiji, USA, New Zealand and South Africa, who gained automatic qualification as the top four sides on their year's World Rugby World Sevens Series. Also qualified are Argentina (South American Regional Qualifier) and Canada (North American Regional Qualifier). Japan are also secured a place as hosts.
IRELAND MEN'S 7s Squad (2019 Rugby Europe Olympic Qualification Tournament, Stade Michel Bendicichou, Colomiers):
Jordan Conroy (Buccaneers)
Shane Daly (Cork Constitution/Munster)
Billy Dardis (Terenure College) Captain
Ian Fitzpatrick (Lansdowne)
Jack Kelly (Dublin University/Leinster)
Terry Kennedy (St. Mary’s College)
Foster Horan (Lansdowne)
Adam Leavy (Lansdowne)
Hugo Keenan (UCD/Leinster)
Harry McNulty (UCD)
Bryan Mollen (Blackrock College)
Greg O’Shea (Shannon)
Mark Roche (Blackrock College)
IRELAND MEN'S 7s Fixtures, Pool B:
Saturday, July 13
Ireland v Ukraine - 12.44pm (local)/11.44am (Irish time)
Ireland v Russia - 3.29pm (local)/2.29pm (Irish time)
Ireland v Spain - 6.36pm (local)/5.36pm (Irish time)
Sunday, July 14: