Lions return to Irish colours

Almost half of the 37-man Ireland training squad announced today have been selected to represent the Lions on either the 2005 or 2009 tours. [more]

Paul O'Connell

Almost half of the 37-man Ireland training squad announced today have been selected to represent the Lions on either the 2005 or 2009 tours.

A total of 14 players from the recent Lions tour of South Africa are included in Declan Kidney’s squad for the three-day training camp, while two more were tourists four years ago and another two were due to become Lions this summer before injury prevented them from traveling to the Republic.

Tommy Bowe, Gordon D’Arcy, Keith Earls, Stephen Ferris, Luke Fitzgerald, John Hayes, Jamie Heaslip, Rob Kearney, Brian O’Driscoll, Donncha O’Callaghan, Paul O’Connell, Ronan O’Gara and David Wallace all saw game time on the 10-match tour of South Africa, with only D’Arcy, Earls and Ferris not winning a Test cap against the Springboks.

Munster pair Jerry Flannery and Tomas O’Leary were original Lions selections prior to succumbing to elbow and ankle injuries respectively, but both will have recovered in time for the get together in Limerick on August 16-19.

Veteran internationals Shane Horgan and Geordan Murphy are also included having missed out with the Lions this time around after touring New Zealand in 2005.

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The camp is the second of three scheduled training periods, with the first having been held in Belfast in July without the 2009 Lions and the third due to take place next month.

"The camp allows us to set some foundations for the coming season," said Ireland coach Kidney, who led the country to their first Grand Slam in 61 years this spring.

"The Belfast Camp was productive in that we were able to continue to work with the players and pick up where we left off from the summer tour and the Churchill Cup.

"A lot of players are being given an opportunity and from that point of view as well, we were happy with the spread of players we were in contact with in Belfast.

"The next camp will be slightly different as the players involved with the Lions tour come back into the fold."

Five players who were part of the Belfast training camp have been dropped from the squad, with Kidney deciding not to invite Isaac Boss, Ryan Caldwell, Darren Cave, Chris Henry and Niall O’Connor to the Limerick sessions.

Ireland play Australia on November 15 at Croke Park and Fiji on November 21 at the Royal Dublin Society, before returning to Croke Park to take on Lions’ conquerors South Africa a week later on Saturday, November 28.

Ireland training squad

Neil Best (Northampton), Rory Best (Ulster), Tommy Bowe (Ospreys), Tony Buckley (Munster), Tom Court (Ulster), Sean Cronin (Connacht), Leo Cullen (Leinster), Gordon D’Arcy (Leinster), Ian Dowling (Munster), Keith Earls (Munster), Stephen Ferris (Ulster), Luke Fitzgerald (Leinster), Jerry Flannery (Munster), John Hayes (Munster), Jamie Heaslip (Leinster), Cian Healy (Leinster), Marcus Horan (Munster), Shane Horgan (Leinster), Shane Jennings (Leinster), Rob Kearney (Leinster), Denis Leamy (Munster), Fergus McFadden (Leinster), Geordan Murphy (Leicester), Brian O’Driscoll (Leinster), Donncha O’Callaghan (Munster), Paul O’Connell (Munster), Mick O’Driscoll (Munster), Ronan O’Gara (Munster) Tomas O’Leary (Munster), Donnacha Ryan (Munster), Jonathan Sexton (Leinster), Peter Stringer (Munster), Devon Toner (Leinster), Andrew Trimble (Ulster), David Wallace (Munster), Paddy Wallace (Ulster), Brett Wilkinson (Connacht)

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