Ireland have named their side of their U20 Six Nations Championship opener against Scotland, kicking off at 7.15pm at Irish Independent Park in Cork on Friday.
Head Coach Noel McNamara has named three Irish Exiles in the side, all in the backline, and all three are worth paying close attention to. He has named an all Exile centre partnership, with Cranleigh leaver Hayden Hyde partnering Kirkham Grammar School leaver Dan Kelly in a hugely exciting partnership between two players that lit up the school scene in England last year. Behind them is the former Millfield star Oran McNulty, who starts at full back and is in fact on of two Millfield full backs in action in the championship this weekend, their current full back, Dan John, starts on the wing for Wales on Friday.
Either side of McNulty are home grown Irish stars in former Methody College man Ethan McIlroy and ex St Michael’s College man, Andrew Smith. Meanwhile in the half backs Munster’s Jack Crowley is at ten, with Ulster’s Lewis Finlay at scrum half.
His Ulster teammate David McCann will captain the side from number 8, continuing a long trend of big leaders at 8 for the Ireland U20 side, with Leinster pair Mark Hernan and Sean O’Brien, once of St Michael’s College and Blackrock College respectively, either side of him. In front of them are
McCann is one of five players in the side that featured in Ireland’s Grand Slam winning campaign last time out, all five of which are in the forward pack, including both second rows, Leinster’s Brian Deeny and Munster’s Thomas Ahern. In the front row only hooker Tom Stewart did not feature last year, loosehead Charlie Ward and tigthead Thomas Clarkson, who is vice captain, both did.
The bench is relatively inexperienced, but hooker John McKee played a big part in last year’s U20 campaign. He is joined by props Ciaran Ryan and Ryan McMahon, and fellow forwards Joe McCarthy and Alexis Soroka, while Ben Murphy, Tim Corkery, and Luis Faria cover the backs. Munster’s Ryan is the only non-Leinster player on the bench.
Speaking to www.irishrugby.ie ahead of the game, McNamara said:
“The players have prepared very well since we first came together before Christmas, we had an excellent camp last week in Cork and are looking forward to the challenge that Scotland will bring this Friday night. Getting back down to Irish Independent Park is exciting for all involved. It’s a fantastic venue, a really fast surface and we’re ready to get the campaign underway in front of a partisan home crowd.”
Ireland U20 XV v Scotland – Friday, 7.15pm, Irish Independent Park, Cork (Live on RTE2)
15 Oran McNulty (Millfield/Corinthians/Connacht), 14 Ethan McIlroy (Methody College/Queens/Ulster), 13 Dan Kelly (Kirkham Grammar/Loughborogh Uni/IQ Rugby), 12 Hayden Hyde (Cranleigh/Ballynahinch/Ulster), 11 Andrew Smith (St Michael’s College/Clontarf/Leinster), 10 Jack Crowley (Bandon/Cork Constitution/Munster), 9 Lewis Finlay (Down HS/Malone/Ulster), 1 Charlie Ward (Tullow/Clontarf/Leinster), 2 Tom Stewart (Belfast Royal Academy/Ballynahinch/Ulster), 3 Thomas Clarkson (Blackrock College/Dublin Uni/Leinster), 4 Brian Deeny (Wexford Wanderers/Clontarf/Leinster), 5 Thomas Ahern (Waterpark/Shannon/Munster), 6 Sean O’Brien (Blackrock College/UCD/Leinster), 7 Mark Hernan (St Michael’s College/Lansdowne/Leinster), 8 David McCann (RBAI/Banbridge/Ulster, captain).
Replacements: 16 John McKee (Campbell College/Old Belvedere/Leinster), 17 Ciaran Ryan (Rockwell College/Cashel/Munster), 18 Ryan McMahon (Clongowes Wood College/Old Belvedere/Leinster), 19 Joe McCarthy (Blackrock College/Dublin Uni/Leinster), 20 Alexis Soroka (Belvedere College/Dublin Uni/Leinster), 21 Ben Murphy (Presentation College Bray/Clontarf/Leinster), 22 Tim Corkery (Kilkenny/Lansdowne/Leinster), 23 Luis Faria (Newpark/Dublin Uni/Leinster).