Ulster Academy back rower David McCann will captain the Ireland Under-19s in their second clash with France in Bastia on Saturday (kick-off 8pm local time/7pm Irish time). The 11 personnel changes ensure that every member of the squad will have started a game during the Corsica tour.
Tom Tierney’s side lead the two-match series following their thrilling 21-17 comeback victory in Lumio on Tuesday. Number 8 McCann, who steps up as skipper following three appearances during the Ireland U-20s’ Grand Slam run, is joined in the back row by Leinster duo Sean O’Brien and Anthony Ryan.
Young Munster’s Paddy Kelly and Eoin O’Connor of Waterpark make up an all-Munster second row partnership, while CBC Cork’s Munster Schools Senior Cup-winning captain Scott Buckley is flanked in the front row by Fionn Finlay, a Leinster Schools Senior Cup winner with St. Michael’s, and Clongowes tighthead Ryan McMahon.
Bandon Grammar School out-half Jack Crowley, who converted all three tries the last day, is retained in the back-line along with provincial talents Oran McNulty and Aaron Sexton. Crowley will have his Munster U-19 team-mate, Newcastle West’s Charlie O’Doherty, alongside him at half-back.
St. Michael’s ace Andrew Smith completes a pacy back-three, with IQ Rugby’s Joe Henry, who played for the Ireland U-18 Clubs team last season, combining with Ben Power from Queen’s University in the centre. Tierney’s matchday squad contains two debutants at U-19 level – McMahon and Henry.
Speaking ahead of this weekend’s rematch with France, Ireland U-19 team manager Barney McGonigle said:
This short two-match tour to France is vital in terms of the Under-20 player identification process for later this season, approaching the World Rugby U-20 Championship, and especially next season into the U-20 Six Nations Championship.
“The players have worked closely with Tom, and his assistants Colm Tucker and Mark Butler, to ensure they’re well prepared for these games against an excellent French side. There was a clear game-plan put in place for Tuesday’s opener and the players were confident in their ability to overcome significant hurdles, even when 17-7 behind going into the final ten minutes.
“They showed great skill, application and determination to come away with an excellent win. Team reviews with the coaches, as well as one-on-one positional reviews, were completed today and everyone’s looking forward to Saturday. We know it’s going to be another big encounter and the French will be out for revenge.”
IRELAND UNDER-19 Team & Replacements (v France Under-20 Development Team, 2019 Under-19 International Series, Stade Armand-Cesari, Bastia, Corsica, Saturday, April 20, kick-off 8pm local time/7pm Irish time):
15. Oran McNulty (Galwegians/Connacht)
14. Andrew Smith (St. Michael’s College/Leinster)
13. Ben Power (Queen’s University/Ulster)
12. Joe Henry (London Irish/IQ Rugby)
11. Aaron Sexton (Bangor Grammar School/Ulster)
10. Jack Crowley (Bandon Grammar School/Munster)
9. Charlie O’Doherty (Newcastle West/Munster)
1. Fionn Finlay (St. Michael’s College/Leinster)
2. Scott Buckley (CBC Cork/Munster)
3. Ryan McMahon (Clongowes Wood College/Leinster)
4. Paddy Kelly (Young Munster/Munster)
5. Eoin O’Connor (Waterpark/Munster)
6. Sean O’Brien (Blackrock College/Leinster)
7. Anthony Ryan (Dublin University/Leinster)
8. David McCann (Banbridge/Ulster) (capt)
16. John McKee (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
17. Harry Noonan (Old Wesley/Leinster)
18. Liam Winnett (Buccaneers/Connacht)
19. Brian Deeny (Clontarf/Leinster)
20. Ciaran Booth (Sale Sharks/IQ Rugby)
21. Lewis Finlay (Ballynahinch/Ulster)
22. Mick O’Gara (Presentation College Bray/Leinster)
23. Ethan McIlroy (Methodist College Belfast/Ulster)
24. Thomas Ahern (Shannon/Munster)
25. Mark Hernan (St. Michael’s College/Leinster)
26. Luis Faria (Dublin University/Leinster)
IRELAND UNDER-19s RESULTS/FIXTURES:
France Under-20 Development 17 Ireland Under-19s 21, Stade Municipal, Lumio, Corsica, Tuesday, April 16
France Under-20 Development v Ireland Under-19s, Stade Armand-Cesari, Bastia, Corsica, Saturday, April 20, 8pm local time/7pm Irish time