Ireland Under-18 Schools coach Peter Melia has made sweeping changes to his team ahead of their final outing against Italy in the Under-18 Six Nations Festival (sponsored by The Bowen Group).
Overall there are nine personnel changes to the team and four of these are to the back-line with Gavin Nugent, Craig O’Hanlon, James McKinney and Jason Bloomfield all named in the starting line-up.
Luke Marshall, who played at out-half in the opening two games, moves into the centre with Michael Allen, who started on the left wing in the last game against Scotland. Diarmaid McCarthy also retains his spot on the right wing.
Risteard Byrne, Martin Moore and Brian Hayes all come into the forwards with David O’Callaghan moving from number 8 into the second row and he is also named as captain of the side. Dominic Ryan stays on the blindside and is joined in the backrow by Paul Pritchard and Richard Bent.
Ireland manager Lorcan Balfe said: “We were disappointed with our performance against Scotland as we didn’t do ourselves justice in terms of the basics of the game and certainly did not reach the level of play that the squad can achieve. The target for the Italy game is to concentrate on getting these basics right and to control the game a lot better.
“Italy are a decent side as they posed Wales plenty of problems in their last game and so will not be underestimated. This Ireland team certainly want to end the Festival on a high note with a win to give the local support something to cheer about.”
Admission to all the matches is free and information on fixtures, results, teams and other news from the Festival is available on www.Irishrugby.ie/u18festival.
IRELAND UNDER-18 SCHOOLS TEAM & REPLACEMENTS (v Italy U-18, 2008 U-18 Six Nations Festival, Tuesday, April 1, Cork Institute of Technology, kick-off 2.30pm):
15 – Gavin Nugent (Presentation Brothers College Cork)
14 – Diarmaid McCarthy (Castletroy Community College)
13 – Michael Allen (Methodist College Belfast)
12 – Luke Marshall (Ballymena Academy)
11 – Craig O’Hanlon (St. Munchin’s College)
10 – James McKinney (Campbell College)
9 – Jason Bloomfield (Coleraine Academical Institution)
1 – Brian Cagney (Presentation Brothers College Cork)
2 – Risteard Byrne (Terenure College)
3 – Martin Moore (Castleknock College)
4 – Brian Hayes (Christian Brothers College Cork)
5 – David O’Callaghan (Middleton College) (capt)
6 – Dominic Ryan (Gonzaga College)
7 – Paul Pritchard (Ballymena Academy)
8 – Richard Bent (St. Mary’s College)
16 – Niall Annett (Methodist College Belfast )
17 – Denis Buckley (Blackrock College)
18 – Jack O’Connell (Clongowes Wood College)
19 – Ben Marshall (St. Andrew’s College)
20 – Mark Atkinson (Grosvenor Grammar School)
21 – Patrick Butler (Rockwell College)
22 – David McSharry (Templeogue College)
23 – Brian O’Hara (Presentation Brothers College Cork)
24 – Noel Reid (St. Michael’s College)
25 – AN Other
26 – Michael Kelliher (St. Munchin’s College)
N.B. AN Other is due to David O’Driscoll being ruled out of the game with an injury.