Neil Best, Stephen Ferris, Alan Quinlan and Brian Carney won the ‘close calls’ when Eddie O’Sullivan named the 30-man squad he will take to the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France, while Tommy Bowe will travel as cover for the injured Shane Horgan.
Best, Ferris and Quinlan were selected, along with Simon Easterby, David Wallace and Denis Leamy, in the hotly contested back row area, while Carney won his battle with Bowe for the last outside back spot in the squad, although Bowe was handed the reprieve of travelling to cover Horgan and will join the squad if the knee injury victim fails to recover in time to play a part in the tournament's early stages.
Horgan is in the squad despite the Leinster winger suffering a knee injury in the warm-up prior to yesterday's defeat 31-21 to Scotland in Murrayfield.
He has been diagnosed with a knee ligament strain following a scan this morning in Dublin.
According to the IRFU: 'The prognosis is that he may miss some games in the pool stages but may recover to take part in the tournament.'
Horgan is believed to have suffered a Grade Two tear to his knee ligament but could be fit in time to take on Georgia in Ireland’s second group game.
With a 16/14 split of forwards and backs, O’Sullivan has picked six back rowers but just three recognised second rows in his squad in Paul O'Connell, Donncha O'Callaghan and Malcolm O'Kelly with Quinlan also providing cover there.
The front row selection went much as predicted. Hooker Bernard Jackman the only man trimmed from the front row leaving four props – Marcus Horan, John Hayes, Brian Young and Simon Best – and the three remaining hookers – Jerry Flannery, Rory Best and Frankie Sheahan – in the squad.
In the back row and second row, Mick O’Driscoll, Leo Cullen, Trevor Hogan, Jamie Heaslip and Keith Gleeson were those to lose out at the final stage.
Gordon D'Arcy, Gavin Duffy, Denis Hickie, Andrew Trimble, Brian Carney, Girvan Dempsey, Geordan Murphy and Brian O’Driscoll – confirmed as captain for the tournament – are the outside backs who will travel.
Trimble, Murphy and Carney are among those in contention to take Horgan’s place in the starting line-up.
O’Sullivan did not cut any scrum-halves or out-halves from the squad, naming Peter Stringer, Eoin Reddan and Isaac Boss in the former position and Ronan O’Gara and Paddy Wallace in the latter.
Commenting on the squad and the selection process, coach Eddie O'Sullivan said: ‘This was one of the toughest moments of my coaching career to select this 30-man squad. The players in the enlarged World Cup squad have all worked their guts out in pre-season and this has been the case throughout the camps over the last number of weeks.
‘Unfortunately, we were always going to be limited to 30 players and some very hard decisions had to be made by myself and Niall O'Donovan.
'The Scotland game yesterday solved some of the selection issues in the back row and also back three, and after four years of preparation, we are now on the run in to the tournament.
'One part of the challenge for the players is behind them by getting selected. The challenge for us all now is to compete and be as successful as we can be in the tournament.’
The 30-man Ireland squad and management team will depart today for Capreton in the south of France for a five-day warm weather camp, before returning to Belfast to prepare for their final warm-up game against Italy in Ravenhill on 24 August.
Bowe will travel with the 30-strong squad to France and if Horgan fails to recover in time to face Georgia, the Ulster winger will be drafted in as his replacement for the remainder of tournament.
O'Sullivan said: 'Shane's injury means a four-week lay-off, depending on his healing powers. That puts him in with a chance of making the second Pool game against Georgia.
'Whether he makes that deadline we have set him is another matter but we're giving him every chance. He's a good healer and we believe he can make that.
'Bowe will stay with the squad until we get more data on Shane. Keeping our options open is the best we can do at the moment. Shane is a 50-50 chance to make the Georgia match. We'll know more over the next couple of weeks so we may make a decision sooner.'
Ireland squad for the 2007 Rugby World Cup:
Neil Best Belfast Harlequins/Ulster
Rory Best Belfast Harlequins/Ulster
Simon Best Belfast Harlequins/Ulster
Simon Easterby Llanelli
Stephen Ferris Dungannon/Ulster
Jerry Flannery Shannon/Munster
John Hayes Bruff/Munster
Marcus Horan Shannon/Munster
Denis Leamy Cork Constitution/Munster
Donncha O'Callaghan Cork Constitution/Munster
Paul O'Connell Young Munster/Munster
Malcolm O'Kelly St Mary's College/Leinster
Alan Quinlan Shannon/Munster
Frankie Sheahan Cork Constitution/Munster
David Wallace Garryowen/Munster
Bryan Young Ballymena/Ulster
Isaac Boss Ballymena/Ulster
Brian Carney Clonakilty/Munster
Gordon D'Arcy Lansdowne/Leinster
Girvan Dempsey Terenure College/Leinster
Gavin Duffy Galwegians/Connacht
Denis Hickie St Mary's College/Leinster
Shane Horgan Lansdowne / Leinster
Geordan Murphy Leicester
Brian O'Driscoll Captain UCD/Leinster
Ronan O'Gara Cork Constitution/Munster
Eoin Reddan Wasps
Peter Stringer Shannon/Munster
Andrew Trimble Ballymena/Ulster
Paddy Wallace Ballymena/Ulster
Also to travel as cover for Shane Horgan:
Tommy Bowe Dungannon/Ulster
Cut from the squad (6):
Jamie Heaslip, Trevor Hogan, Leo Cullen, Keith Gleeson, Bernard Jackman, Mick O'Driscoll.