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.
They then topped that performance with a magnificent victory over a highly-fancied France in snowy Grenoble.
Mike Ruddock's youngsters fought from start to finish for every ball and tackle to upset the French by the minimum and, now with two successive home fixtures against Italy and Scotland, they will be keen to build further momentum as they bid for the title.
Midlands followers will be looking to see local favourites, Athlonian Daniel Qualter, Carrick-on-Shannon's Shane Layden, the man-of-the-match against Wales, and Conor Finn from Ballinasloe (all from the host club Buccaneers) in action along with Mullingar's Conor Gilsenan, now of UCD and Leinster.
The Buccs trio could be joined by their club-mate and Connacht front rower Diarmuid Higgins, who was in the squad that performed heroics in France.
Connacht should also be further represented by Corinthians pair Aaron Conneely and Kieran Marmion in a team captained by Ulster out-half Paddy Jackson who may well link up with scrum half Luke McGrath from Leinster at half-back.
Leinster's Jack Conan is a dynamic number 8 and Munster centre JJ Hanrahan is another exciting prospect in this solid Ireland team where Iain Henderson of Ulster partners Qualter in the second row.
Ireland's front row trio of Kyle McCall, Niall Scannell and Peter Reilly are the foundation rock of the side having more than measured up to two bigger front row units in the wins over Wales and France.
There is a great spread from around the country in the make-up of this Ireland squad. And with the road network now making it so convenient and quick to get to Dubarry Park from most parts, another bumper crowd is expected to attend on Friday night in support of this crop of exciting and talented Under-20s.
In recent seasons, a considerable number of these players have gone on to play at senior international level so Friday is an ideal opportunity for sports lovers to come along and see the latest group up close in action.
Sean O'Brien, Jonathan Sexton, Cian Healy, Keith Earls and Sean Cronin are just some of the age grade graduates who have gone on to represent Ireland at Test level.
Tickets for Friday's match can be bought in advance at the Bounty/Dubarry Park and also from Musicworld, Golden Island Shopping Centre, Athlone.
Demand is strong again particularly for Stand tickets at €20 each, so early purchase is recommended if you wish to have a seat on the night. Ground/Terrace tickets are €15 each and OAP/Student tickets cost €10.
Family tickets, priced at only €30 for two adults and two children, are available. Discount vouchers for school children are distributed to secondary and national schools in the region. Discounts are also available for groups.
Contact Buccaneers RFC administrator Geraldine at 0861732711 to book. Cash will also be taken at the turnstiles so come along in good time to avoid the rush.
Pre-match tables are available too. The cost per person is only €40 which covers a three-course sit-down meal and wine as well as a reserved seat in the stand, so that is really good value indeed. Again contact Geraldine at 0861732711 or email: email@example.com.
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