Ireland Under-20 Grand Slam winners John McKee, David McCann and Brian Deeny will start for the Ireland U-19s against France in Corsica on Tuesday (kick-off 6pm local time/5pm Irish time). Old Belvedere’s McKee captains the Tom Tierney-coached team from the front row.
There are six starters retained from Ireland’s 17-5 defeat to Australia in December, with McKee, McCann, Old Wesley prop Harry Noonan and IQ Rugby flanker Ciaran Booth selected in the pack, and Connacht’s Oran McNulty and Aaron Sexton, the lightning-quick Ulster ‘A’ winger, featuring again in the back-three.
Stepping up from the bench are Deeny, Buccaneers clubman Liam Winnett, who packs down alongside skipper McKee and Noonan, and Ballynahinch scrum half Lewis Finlay. Both second rows have All-Ireland League experience, Deeny with Clontarf and Thomas Ahern with Shannon.
Mark Hernan, who captained St. Michael’s to Leinster Schools Senior Cup glory last month, joins Booth and McCann in the back row, while Bandon Grammar School skipper Jack Crowley gets the nod at out-half. Leinster U-19 Interpro title winners Luis Faria and Mick O’Gara man the midfield, and right winger Ethan McIlroy is rewarded for his form with Ulster Schools Senior Cup champions Methody.
Second row Paddy Kelly, who played for Munster ‘A’ in the Cara Cup in Boston, is listed among the replacements, along with two more of the St. Michael’s title-winning side, Andrew Smith and Fionn Finlay, and hooker Scott Buckley who captained CBC Cork to victory in the recent Munster Schools Senior Cup final, scoring the game’s only try.
Tierney’s charges meet the France Under-20 Development team at the Stade Municipal in Lumio on Tuesday evening, before moving on to Bastia for the rematch on Easter Saturday. The French outfit warmed up for the series with a 66-5 victory over Scotland in Nice last Thursday.
IRELAND UNDER-19 Team & Replacements (v France Under-20 Development Team, 2019 Under-19 International Series, Stade Municipal, Lumio, Corsica, Tuesday, April 16, kick-off 6pm local time/5pm Irish time):
15. Oran McNulty (Galwegians/Connacht)
14. Ethan McIlroy (Methodist College Belfast/Ulster)
13. Luis Faria (Dublin University/Leinster)
12. Mick O’Gara (Presentation College Bray/Leinster)
11. Aaron Sexton (Bangor Grammar School/Ulster)
10. Jack Crowley (Bandon Grammar School/Munster)
9. Lewis Finlay (Ballynahinch/Ulster)
1. Harry Noonan (Old Wesley/Leinster)
2. John McKee (Old Belvedere/Leinster) (capt)
3. Liam Winnett (Buccaneers/Connacht)
4. Brian Deeny (Clontarf/Leinster)
5. Thomas Ahern (Shannon/Munster)
6. Ciaran Booth (Sale Sharks/IQ Rugby)
7. Mark Hernan (St. Michael’s College/Leinster)
8. David McCann (Banbridge/Ulster)
16. Scott Buckley (CBC Cork/Munster)
17. Fionn Finlay (St. Michael’s College/Leinster)
18. Ryan McMahon (Clongowes Wood College/Leinster)
19. Eoin O’Connor (Waterpark/Munster)
20. Anthony Ryan (Dublin University/Leinster)
21. Charlie O’Doherty (Newcastle West/Munster)
22. Ben Power (Queen’s University/Ulster)
23. Andrew Smith (St. Michael’s College/Leinster)
24. Paddy Kelly (Young Munster/Munster)
25. Sean O’Brien (Blackrock College/Leinster)
26. Joe Henry (London Irish/IQ Rugby)
IRELAND UNDER-19s FIXTURES:
France Under-20 Development v Ireland Under-19s, Stade Municipal, Lumio, Corsica, Tuesday, April 16, 6pm local time/5pm Irish time
France Under-20 Development v Ireland Under-19s, Stade Armand-Cesari, Bastia, Corsica, Saturday, April 20, 8pm local time/7pm Irish time