Head coach Noel McNamara has selected the Ireland Under-20 team, sponsored by PwC, to play Wales in Friday’s U-20 Six Nations final round tie at Parc Eirias in Colwyn Bay (kick-off 7.05pm).
There is one change to the side that claimed a 31-29 win over France in front of a sell-out 8,008-strong crowd in Cork, with the result confirming Ireland as U-20 Six Nations champions with a round still to play. Harry Byrne is fit to resume at out-half after missing last week’s game with a hip flexor injury.
The half-back pairing that Ireland kicked off the Championship with is reunited as Craig Casey, who suffered a knee injury against France, is set to start alongside Byrne. Munster Academy talent Sean French continues at inside centre as captain David Hawkshaw has unfortunately had to undergo knee surgery and will miss the rest of the season.
Ireland will field the same starting pack for the fifth game in a row, with loosehead Josh Wycherley starring against the French with two tries in a man-of-the-match performance. Dylan Tierney-Martin, Thomas Clarkson, Charlie Ryan, who captains the team for the second time, and Niall Murray complete the tight five.
Strong-carrying number 8 John Hodnett has flankers Martin Moloney and Scott Penny for company again in a combative back row, while all four provinces are represented on the replacements bench. Galwegians prop Ryan Lomas is standing by to win his first Ireland Under-20 cap if called upon.
Speaking ahead of the much-anticipated round five fixture, which will be shown live on RTÉ 2 and S4C, McNamara said:
It was great to win the title with last week’s win over France, but it’s testament to the players how they’ve parked the victory and are fully focused on what can be achieved in Wales this Friday night.
“They are a really tight-knit group, which I think has been evident in their performances over the last number of weeks. They have one final test this week and the group are really relishing the challenge and opportunity that Friday will bring.”
Tickets are priced at £15 for reserved seating and £10 adults/£5 Under-16s for terrace standing. Tickets can be purchased from Venue Cymru by calling 01492 872000 or by clicking here (there is £1 booking fee). Supporters can purchase accessible seating by calling Colwyn Leisure Centre on 01492 577900.
IRELAND UNDER-20 Team & Replacements (v Wales Under-20s, 2019 Under-20 Six Nations Championship, Zip World Stadium, Parc Eirias, Colwyn Bay, Friday, March 8, kick-off 7.o5pm):
15. Jake Flannery (Shannon/Munster)
14. Angus Kernohan (Queen’s University/Ulster)
13. Liam Turner (Dublin University/Leinster)
12. Sean French (Cork Constitution/Munster)
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) (capt)
5. Niall Murray (Buccaneers/Connacht)
6. Martin Moloney (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
7. Scott Penny (UCD/Leinster)
8. John Hodnett (UCC/Munster)
16. John McKee (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
17. Callum Reid (Banbridge/Ulster)
18. Ryan Lomas (Galwegians/Connacht) *
19. Ryan Baird (Dublin University/Leinster)
20. David McCann (Banbridge/Ulster)
21. Cormac Foley (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
22. Ben Healy (Garryowen/Munster)
23. Rob Russell (Dublin University/Leinster)
* Denotes uncapped at Under-20 level
IRELAND UNDER-20 2019 U-20 SIX NATIONS RESULTS/FIXTURES:
Friday, February 1:
IRELAND UNDER-20s 35 ENGLAND UNDER-20s 27, Irish Independent Park, Cork
Friday, February 8:
SCOTLAND UNDER-20s 5 IRELAND UNDER-20s 24, Netherdale, Gala RFC, Galashiels
Friday, February 22:
ITALY UNDER-20s 14 IRELAND UNDER-20s 34, Stadio Centro d’Italia – Manlio Scopigno, Rieti
Friday, March 8:
IRELAND UNDER-20s 31 FRANCE UNDER-20s 29, Irish Independent Park, Cork
Friday, March 15:
WALES UNDER-20s v IRELAND UNDER-20s, Zip World Stadium, Eirias Park, Colwyn Bay, 7.05pm (live RTÉ Two)