18 May, 11:09
IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne has issued a statement following confirmation of Ronan O'Gara's decision to retire from playing professional rugby.
Ireland Under 21 Coach Mark McDermott has named a squad of 24 players for the opening Six Nations Championship match against Italy in Dubarry Park, Athlone on Friday, 3rd February 2006 at 7.35p.m.
The team are in form as they head into the game, after beating Leinster A' 40 - 12 in Donnybrook on January 17th.
St.Mary's College outhalf Jonathon Sexton missed that game with an ankle injury, but has responded to treatment and is back in line for selection. There are two absentees from the squad due to injury, with backs Tom Gleeson (hamstring) and Cillian Willis (hamstring) not being considered. Stuart Philpott is expected to captain the team again from hooker.
Coach Mark McDermott said, The guys have worked very hard during our last camp and the win over Leinster A was very important for us. It gives them all that extra bit of confidence and also allowed us to get our patterns and game plan working for us.
Commenting on the game against Italy, McDermott said, We certainly are not underestimating the challenge that they will be bringing to Dubarry Park and the squad are well focused ahead of the game. We will be looking for a good start which will hopefully give us a bit of momentum for the rest of the game.
The team and replacements will be selected next week. The squad is as follows:
Fionn Carr (Blackrock College)
Darren Cave (Belfast Harlequins)
Peter Durcan (Galwegians)
Conan Doyle (Garryowen)
Kieran Hallett (Bedford Blues)
Ian Hanly (UL Bohemians)
Paul Marshall (Ballynahinch)
Fergus McFadden (UCD)
Jonathan Sexton (St. Mary's College)
Duncan Williams (UCC)
Matt Williams (Bristol Shoguns/Hartpury College)
Callum Black (Worcester Warriors/Hartpury College)
Sean Cronan (Shannon)
Paul Doran-Jones (Dublin University)
Stephen Ferris (Dungannon)
Billy Holland (UCC)
Darragh Hurley (UCC)
David McGowan (Buccaneers)
Ross Noonan (UCC)
Sean O'Brien (UCD)
Stuart Philpott (Belfast Harlequins)
Devon Toner (Lansdowne)
Dan Touhy (Gloucester/Hartpury College)
Ejike Uzoigwe (Hartpury College)
Not considered due to injury are:
Tom Gleeson (Cork Con)
Cillian Willis (UCD)