Head coach Noel McNamara has announced the Ireland Under-20s team, sponsored by PwC, to face Scotland in their final home game of the U-20 Six Nations at Donnybrook on Friday (kick-off 7.15pm).
There are seven personnel changes and one positional switch to the Ireland Under-20 side that was edged out by Wales in a thrilling 11-try clash at Donnybrook two weeks ago.
Props James French and Tom O’Toole (pictured below) are set for their first starts of the Championship, having both made three appearances from the bench to date. They link up with Lansdowne hooker Ronan Kelleher who now has ten Ireland U-20 caps to his name.
Ulster Academy starlet Matthew Dalton returns from a stint with the province’s senior squad to replace the injured Cormac Daly (shoulder), combining with Jack Dunne in the second row. Dalton has made five GUINNESS PRO14 appearances for Ulster.
There is also a change in the back row as Dalton’s Ulster Academy colleague Joe Dunleavy comes in to win his first Ireland U-20 cap, alongside Matthew Agnew and Jack O’Sullivan, the UCC number 8 who scored two tries in a man-of-the-match performance against Wales.
In the back-line, Clontarf scrum half Hugh O’Sullivan gains his second start of the campaign. He teams up at half-back with Harry Byrne who has kicked 26 points so far. Captain Tommy O’Brien reverts from the wing to centre where he partners Angus Curtis in a potent midfield pairing.
There are first Under-20 Six Nations starts for Ulster wingers Mark Keane and Angus Kernohan who will line out with Dublin University clubman Michael Silvester in the back-three. Wanderers’ Eoghan Clarke will be the reserve hooker.
After confirming the starting XV, head coach Noel McNamara said: “It’s set to be another good challenge for the players on Friday. Everyone was disappointed with the result against Wales, so it’s an opportunity to finish our time in Donnybrook on a positive note
“We’ve made some changes for Friday night and I know the management team are looking forward to seeing those players go out and show what they can do.
“Scotland come to Dublin off the back of a good win over England, so they will be full of confidence. The games between ourselves and Scotland have been close affairs over the last few seasons, so we’re expecting another tough encounter this week.”
The Ireland Under-20s’ home matches at Donnybrook are again sponsored by Electric Ireland, and Friday’s round 4 fixture will be broadcast live on RTE Two, with coverage beginning at 7pm. Ireland U-20 tickets are available on www.ticketmaster.ie.
IRELAND UNDER-20 Team & Replacements (v Scotland Under-20s, 2018 Under-20 Six Nations Championship, Donnybrook, Friday, March 9, kick-off 7.15pm):
15. Michael Silvester (Dublin University/Leinster) 7
14. Angus Kernohan (Ballymena/Ulster) 3
13. Tommy O’Brien (UCD/Leinster) (capt) 8
12. Angus Curtis (Queen’s University/Ulster) 3
11. Mark Keane (Queen’s University/Ulster) 2
10. Harry Byrne (UCD/Leinster) 3
9. Hugh O’Sullivan (Clontarf/Leinster) 3
1. James French (UCC/Munster) 3
2. Ronan Kelleher (Lansdowne/Leinster) 10
3. Tom O’Toole (Banbridge/Ulster) 3
4. Matthew Dalton (Malone/Ulster) 1
5. Jack Dunne (Dublin University/Leinster) 3
6. Joe Dunleavy (Malone/Ulster) *
7. Matthew Agnew (Ballymena/Ulster) 2
8. Jack O’Sullivan (UCC/Munster) 3
16. Eoghan Clarke (Wanderers/Leinster) 1
17. Jordan Duggan (Naas/Leinster) 7
18. Jack Aungier (St. Mary’s College/Leinster) 3
19. Charlie Ryan (UCD/Leinster) 2
20. Ronan Foley (UCD/Leinster) 2
21. Jonny Stewart (Queen’s University/Ulster) 12
22. Conor Dean (St. Mary’s College/Leinster) 7
23. James Hume (Banbridge/Ulster) 1
* Denotes uncapped player at Under-20 level
IRELAND UNDER-20 SIX NATIONS RESULTS/FIXTURES:
France Under-20s 34 Ireland Under-20s 24, Stade Amédée Domenech, Brive, Friday, February 2
Ireland Under-20s 38 Italy Under-20s 34, Donnybrook, Friday, February 9
Ireland Under-20s 38 Wales Under-20s 41, Donnybrook, Friday, February 23
Ireland Under-20s v Scotland Under-20s, Donnybrook, Friday, March 9, 7.15pm – click here to buy match tickets
England Under-20s v Ireland Under-20s, Ricoh Arena, Coventry, Friday, March 16, 8pm – click here to buy match tickets