Buccaneers lock Darragh Murray, who led the Connacht Under-18s to their historic Interprovincial title success in August, will captain the Ireland Under-18 Clubs team against the Italy U-18 Academy side in Treviso on Saturday (kick-off 4pm local time/3pm Irish time).
Fiach O’Loughlin, the former Shannon and Clontarf scrum half, has the coaching reins of the Ireland Under-18 Clubs squad this season, with the travelling party for Italy back-boned by 10 members of Connacht’s Interpro title-winning squad.
Returning for their second year at this level, Boyne’s prodigious centre Karl Martin and captain Darragh Murray played in the Ireland U-18 Clubs team’s 46-27 win away to Portugal twelve months ago. Martin went on to line out with the Ireland U-18 Schools side at the Six Nations Festival during Easter.
Shane Jennings and Michael Cooke, who are also named in O’Loughlin’s starting XV against Italy, were part of the Ireland U-18 Clubs & Schools squad last spring, along with Murray. The trio got game-time across four matches against Canada and England, and Jennings was an All-Ireland winner with the Galway minor hurlers in August.
Saturday will be a particularly proud day for An Ghaeltacht Rugby Club with two of their young talents, Eoin de Buitléar and Ciaran Scanlon, featuring in the front row together. De Buitléar’s Ireland U-18 debut comes just three weeks after his 20-year-old brother Colm made his senior bow for Connacht.
The Connacht connection continues with Paul Boyle’s young brother, Gorey flanker Mark, following in his footsteps by winning Ireland U-18 Clubs honours. Four players from the IQ Rugby programme are included, along with Munster scrum half Ethan Coughlan who played for Ennis in last April’s IRFU Under-16 All-Ireland Cup final.
The Ireland U-18 Clubs squad and management set up camp at the King’s Hospital on Monday for a series of sessions before flying out to Italy this afternoon. Letterkenny and Ulster’s Stephen Kelly withdrew with a calf injury and is replaced by Cathal Fleming (Monivea/Connacht) in the matchday 23.
IRELAND UNDER-18 CLUBS TEAM & REPLACEMENTS (v Italy Academy Under-18s, Under-18 International Match, La Ghirada Centro Sportivo, Treviso, Italy, Saturday, November 4, kick-off 4pm local time/3pm Irish time):
15. Jamie Osborne (Naas RFC/Leinster)
14. Josh O’Connor (Wexford Wanderers RFC/Leinster)
13. Shane Jennings (Ballinasloe RFC/Connacht)
12. Karl Martin (Boyne RFC/Leinster)
11. Zach Kavanagh (SGS Filton College/IQ Rugby)
10. Michael Cooke (Newcastle Falcons RFC/Sedbergh School/IQ Rugby)
9. Aodha Hession (Creggs RFC/Connacht)
1. Monty Royston (Hartpury College/IQ Rugby)
2. Eoin de Buitléar (An Ghaeltacht/Corinthians RFC/Connacht)
3. Cian Scanlon (An Ghaeltacht/Corinthians RFC/Connacht)
4. Darragh Murray (Buccaneers RFC/Connacht) (capt)
5. Jay Traynor (Waterpark RFC/Munster)
6. Mark Boyle (Gorey RFC/Leinster)
7. Oisin McCormack (Ballinasloe RFC/Connacht)
8. Donnacha Byrne (Sligo RFC/Connacht)
16. Dylan Murphy (Nenagh Ormond RFC/Munster)
17. Liam Bishop (Yorkshire Carnegie RFC/Trent College/IQ Rugby)
18. Darragh McCarthy (Cobh Pirates RFC/Munster)
19. Cathal Fleming (Monivea RFC/Connacht)
20. Hubert Costello (Corinthians RFC/Connacht)
21. Ethan Coughlan (Ennis RFC/Munster)
22. Cathal Forde (Corinthians RFC/Connacht)
23. Conor O’Shaughnessy (Galwegians RFC/Connacht)