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McKee To Captain Ireland Under-18 Schools Team Against France

McKee To Captain Ireland Under-18 Schools Team Against France

The Ireland Under-18 Schools team, sponsored by PwC, has been confirmed for the first of four fixtures over the Easter holiday period. They face France at Templeville Road on Saturday (kick-off 4pm), and then will play Italy, Wales and Scotland.

Coached by Peter Smyth, with assistants Mossy Lawler and Jamie Cornett, the Ireland Under-18 Schools side is captained by prop John McKee who led Campbell College to their 24th Ulster Schools Senior Cup title earlier this week.

Tullow Community School’s Charlie Ward, who played for the Ireland U-18 Clubs outfit against Portugal in November, joins Ulster duo McKee and Tom Stewart in the front row, while Letterkenny talent Conor McMenamin from Coláiste Ailigh is back for a second season as an U-18 international, combining with Ardmore native Tom Ahern in the second row. Ahern touched down twice in that game against Portugal.

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Three provinces are represented in the back row where Clongowes’ Anthony Ryan and Monaghan youngster Ryan O’Neill, who is the first Royal School Armagh student to make the Irish Schools squad in seven years, fill the flanker positions and PBC Cork’s Alex Kendellen packs down at number 8.

Nathan Doak, the son of former Ulster scrum half and head coach Neil Doak, will don the number 9 jersey after scoring 36 points in the province’s U-18 Schools Interprovincial title success this season. Paddy McKenzie from East Glendalough School is Doak’s half-back partner tomorrow.

Ireland’s back-line is a mix of Leinster and Ulster youngsters, with Bangor’s All-Ireland champion sprinter Aaron Sexton returning to Ireland 15s duty after winning the European U-18 Sevens Championship with Anthony Eddy’s squad back in September.

Max O’Reilly, a Leinster Schools Senior League winner with St. Gerard’s, gets the nod at full-back, Andrew Smith from St. Michael’s will be stationed on the right wing, and Karl Martin from St. Mary’s in Drogheda and RBAI’s Angus Adair link up as the starting centres.

The selected bench includes CBC Cork lock Cian Hurley, who played in two of the U-18 International Series matches in Wales last Easter, and reserve half-backs Ben Murphy (the son of Ireland skills and kicking coach Richie Murphy) and Dylan Prendergast, a proud product of Westport RFC and a student at Sancta Maria College in his native Louisburgh.

With the Leinster Schools Senior Cup final between Blackrock College and Belvedere College taking place today due to last weekend’s postponement, players involved in that game who have been selected will join up with the Ireland U-18 squads next week.

IRELAND UNDER-18 SCHOOLS Team & Replacements (v France Under-18s, Under-18 International Match, St. Mary’s College RFC, Templeville Road, Saturday, March 24, kick-off 4pm):

15. Max O’Reilly (St. Gerard’s School) 
14. Andrew Smith (St. Michael’s College) 
13. Karl Martin (St. Mary’s School, Drogheda) 
12. Angus Adair (RBAI) 
11. Aaron Sexton (Bangor GS) 
10. Paddy McKenzie (East Glendalough School)
9. Nathan Doak (Wallace HS)
1. John McKee (Campbell College) (capt) 
2. Tom Stewart (Belfast Royal Academy)
3. Charlie Ward (Tullow Community School) 
4. Conor McMenemin (Colaiste Ailigh)
5. Tom Ahern (St. Augustine’s, Dungarvan)
6. Anthony Ryan (Clongowes Wood College)
7. Ryan O’Neill (RS Armagh)
8. Alex Kendellen (PBC Cork) 

16. Padraig McCarthy (Colaiste Pobail Bheanntrai)
17. Connor Morrissey (Mayfield CS)
18. Fionn Finlay (St. Michael’s College)
19. Cian Hurley (CBC Cork)
20. Jody Booth (St. Michael’s College)
21. Ben Murphy (Presentation College Bray)
22. Dylan Prendergast (Sancta Maria College)
23. Ben Power (Campbell College)
24. Chris Cosgrave (St. Michael’s College)


Saturday, March 24, 4pm, Templeville Road

Saturday, March 31, 5pm, Centre of Excellence, Ystrad Mynach, Caerphilly

Wednesday, April 4, 2.30pm, Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff

Sunday, April 8, 12pm, Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff