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Dublin: 7 °C Monday 1 June, 2020

Kieran Marmion ready for Test chance on Ireland summer tour

The Connacht scrumhalf is hoping to be get the international call from interim coach Les Kiss,

KIERAN MARMION WILL start his 28th match for Connacht on Friday when Glasgow Warriors visit the Sportsground for a night of farewells.

Johnny O’Connor, who starts, Adrian Flavin and head coach Eric Elwood will all say their goodbyes. Marmion will bid farewell to a trio that have dedicated themselves to the rugby cause but he insists he has plenty of energy for what he hopes is a busy summer ahead.

In the next 24 hours, interim Ireland coach Les Kiss is set to name his touring squad for the summer tour to play the US Eagles [Colorado] and Canada [Vancouver]. With Eoin Reddan recovering from a broken leg and Conor Murray preparing for his first Lions tour, the 21-year-old scrumhalf will be hoping for an international call-up.

Marmion trains at Carton House in February. (©INPHO/James Crombie)

Marmion, in his first full season with the westerners, was supposed to share the distributing duties with former Leinster No.9 Paul O’Donohue this season but his assured performances, and an increasingly symbiotic relationship with Dan Parks, have made him the undisputed starter. He called the shots in the home win over Leinster, was superb in the Heineken Cup victory over Biarritz and kept the backline ticking in a frantic away triumph against Edinburgh. Connacht supporters jointly awarded Marmion and fullback Henshaw their Young Player of the Year award.

Marmion told, “Those are the two games that stood out for me this season. We grew in confidence as the season went on and started to spray the ball around and create more try-scoring chances. Dan Parks has been great for us and lads like Tiernan O’Halloran, Dave McSharry and Eoin Griffin have really benefited from his presence.”

While Henshaw, Mike McCarthy and Dave McSharry were rewarded for their form this season with call-ups for Ireland extended Six Nations squads, Marmion – too old for the Under 20s – focused on cementing his place in a Connacht team that have evolved into a rounded attacking package under Elwood. Despite the Lions selections for heftier scrumhalves such as Mike Philips and Conor Murray, Marmion argues that nimble 9′s still have a place in the game. He said:

You look at players like Ben Youngs, who is one of the best out there and who is going with the Lions, and Will Genia [of Australia]. Genia is my favourite player and one who’s game I study a lot. It will be great to see those two guys go head to head this summer.”

As the Lions do battle with the Wallabies, Marmion may well be returning back from his first senior tour. The Welsh-born scrumhalf, who was called up to Ireland’s training squad during the Six Nations, is hopeful more than expectant. “There’s always a chance,” he said. “I’d be happy just to go on tour to train with the quality players and try to make a name for myself. It would definitely be a good environment to be in and I’d look forward to learning from the older pros.”

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Patrick McCarry

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