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Ireland Under-20 Side Selected For England Clash In Cork

Ireland U20s at the squad announcement in PwC

David Hawkshaw, Noel McNamara, Azur Allison, David McGee (PwC), Dylan Tierney-Martin and Craig Casey ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Head coach Noel McNamara has announced the Ireland Under-20 team, sponsored by PwC, to play England in the opening game of the U-20 Six Nations at Irish Independent Park on Friday (kick-off 7.15pm).

Buy your ticket(s) for Ireland Under-20s v England Under-20s on Ticketmaster.ie.

Three of the starters played for the Ireland U-20s last season – out-half Harry Byrne, who wins his 11th cap at this level, hooker Dylan Tierney-Martin and lock Charlie Ryan – and the matchday squad has a combination of All-Ireland League and provincial ‘A’ and senior experience behind him.

Scott Penny, who has scored two tries in four GUINNESS PRO14 appearance for Leinster, features in the back row alongside Martin Moloney and Cork native John Hodnett, a try scorer in both of the Ireland U-20s’ warm-up wins over the Leinster and Munster Development teams last month.

Ryan is joined by Buccaneers’ Niall Murray in the second row, while Josh Wycherley, younger brother of Munster’s Fineen Wycherley, and Dublin University’s Thomas Clarkson get the nod to start either side of Connacht Academy member Tierney-Martin in the front row.

Behind the scrum, the family affair continues with Byrne, whose older brother Ross made his Ireland senior debut in November, teaming up with former Ireland Under-18 Schools captain Craig Casey at half-back. Casey and Ryan are vice-captains of the U-20 squad, supporting newly-appointed skipper David Hawkshaw.

Ireland will field an all-Leinster centre pairing in Hawkshaw and Liam Turner, with Munster providing all three members of the back-three. Jonathan Wren, who plays for nearby Cork Constitution, Conor McPhillips and full-back Jake Flannery will look to pose a threat out wide and in the air.

All four provinces are represented on the replacements bench with eight more Under-20 debutants waiting in the wings, including 18-year-old Ulster Academy flanker David McCann and talented Wexford youngster Brian Deeny who won a European Championship silver medal with the Ireland U-18 Sevens side last year.

Ahead of the Ireland U-20s’ first competitive match at their new Cork home ground, McNamara said:

The players have prepared very well since we first came together before Christmas. We had a good camp last week in Cork and are looking forward to the challenge that England will bring this Friday night.

“We have a very talented group of players in the squad, and there were a number of tight calls on selection for this game. There’s a lot of rugby to be played over the coming weeks and months, so the competitiveness in the squad is a real positive and bodes well for the season ahead.

“Everyone involved is excited to be heading to Irish Independent Park for this opening fixture. It’s a great venue with a nice fast pitch, and we’re looking forward to getting the campaign underway in front of an energetic and lively crowd in Cork.”

The Ireland Under-20s’ first round encounter with England will be broadcast live on RTÉ 2, directly after the Ireland Women’s game against England (kick-off 5pm).

IRELAND UNDER-20 Team & Replacements (v England Under-20s, 2019 Under-20 Six Nations Championship, Irish Independent Park, Cork, Friday, February 1, kick-off 7.15pm):

15. Jake Flannery (Shannon/Munster)
14. Conor Phillips (Young Munster/Munster)
13. Liam Turner (Dublin University/Leinster)
12. David Hawkshaw (Clontarf/Leinster) (capt)
11. Jonathan Wren (Cork Constitution/Munster)
10. Harry Byrne (Lansdowne/Leinster) *
9. Craig Casey (Shannon/Munster)
1. Josh Wycherley (Young Munster/Munster)
2. Dylan Tierney-Martin (Corinthians/Connacht) *
3. Thomas Clarkson (Dublin University/Leinster)
4. Charlie Ryan (UCD/Leinster) *
5. Niall Murray (Buccaneers/Connacht)
6. Martin Moloney (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
7. Scott Penny (UCD/Leinster)
8. John Hodnett (UCC/Munster)

Replacements:

16. John McKee (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
17. Michael Milne (UCD/Leinster)
18. Ryan Lomas (Galwegians/Connacht)
19. Brian Deeny (Clontarf/Leinster)
20. David McCann (Banbridge/Ulster)
21. Cormac Foley (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
22. Sean French (Cork Constitution/Munster)
23. Rob Russell (Dublin University/Leinster)

* Denotes previously capped player at Under-20 level

IRELAND UNDER-20 2019 U-20 SIX NATIONS FIXTURES:

Friday, February 1:

IRELAND UNDER-20s v ENGLAND UNDER-20s, Irish Independent Park, Cork, 7.15pm (live on RTÉ Two)
Click here to buy your match ticket(s) from Ticketmaster.ie

Friday, February 8:

SCOTLAND UNDER-20s v IRELAND UNDER-20s, Netherdale, Gala RFC, Galashiels, 7.30pm

Friday, February 22:

ITALY UNDER-20s v IRELAND UNDER-20s, Stadio Centro d’Italia – Manlio Scopigno, Rieti, 7pm local time/6pm Irish time (live www.facebook.com/federugby & www.youtube/fedrugby)

Friday, March 8:

IRELAND UNDER-20s v FRANCE UNDER-20s, Irish Independent Park, Cork, 7.15pm (live RTÉ Two)
Click here to buy your match ticket(s) from Ticketmaster.ie

Friday, March 15:

WALES UNDER-20s v IRELAND UNDER-20s, Zip World Stadium, Eirias Park, Colwyn Bay, 7.05pm (live RTÉ Two)