Belvedere College captain Aaron Coleman will lead the Ireland Under-18 Clubs & Schools team when they begin their two-match series against England U-18 Counties at Energia Park this afternoon (kick-off 2.30pm).
Nine different clubs and 15 schools are represented in the matchday squad selected by head coach Wayne Mitchell, who is assisted by Simon Broughton and Jamie Cornett. The teams will face off at Donnybrook today and then concluded the series at Ashbourne RFC on Saturday afternoon (kick-off 2pm).
Campbell College tighthead Paddy McAlpine, who played against England U-18 Counties last year, packs down in the front row with Blackrock College’s Hugo O’Malley and An Ghaeltacht product Eoin de Buitléar, younger brother of rising Connacht back-three prospect Colm de Buitléar.
Captain Coleman and Blackrock lock Joseph McCarthy are two more Schools Cup regulars in the pack, while the clubs contingent is boosted by the presence of Waterpark’s Jay Traynor, Hubert Costello of Corinthians and Ballymena number 8 Phil Campbell, who has gained experience with the Braidmen in the All-Ireland League.
Wexford Wanderers’ Josh O’Connor features on the right wing, having scored two of the Ireland U-18 Clubs team’s five tries against the Italian Academy U-18s in October. Conor Rankin, an Ulster Schools Senior Cup winner with Campbell College last year, and Belvedere’s Matthew Grogan complete the back-three.
Crescent College Comprehensive’s Jack Delaney, who played for the Ireland U-19s against Australia in December, is partnered by Ballymena’s Ben Moxham in the centre. The starting half-backs are Justin Leonard, the third Belvedere player in the starting XV, and Portlaoise talent Will Reilly, who played for Leinster during this season’s IRFU U-18 Interprovincial Rugby Festival.
IRELAND UNDER-18 CLUBS & SCHOOLS Team & Replacements (v England Under-18 Counties, 2019 Under-18 International Series, Energia Park, Donnybrook, Wednesday, April 24, kick-off 2.30pm):
15. Conor Rankin (Campbell College/Ulster)
14. Josh O’Connor (Wexford Wanderers RFC/St. Peter’s College/Leinster)
13. Ben Moxham (Ballymena RFC/Larne High School/Ulster)
12. Jack Delaney (Crescent College Comprehensive/Munster)
11. Matthew Grogan (Belvedere College/Leinster)
10. Justin Leonard (Belvedere College/Leinster)
9. Will Reilly (Portlaoise RFC/CBS Portlaoise/Leinster)
1. Hugo O’Malley (Blackrock College/Leinster)
2. Eoin de Buitléar (An Ghaeltacht/Corinthians RFC/Connacht)
3. Paddy McAlpine (Campbell College/Ulster)
4. Jay Traynor (Waterpark RFC/De La Salle Waterford/Munster)
5. Joseph McCarthy (Blackrock College/Leinster)
6. Hubert Costello (Corinthians RFC/Connacht)
7. Aaron Coleman (Belvedere College/Leinster) (capt)
8. Phil Campbell (Ballymena RFC/Ulster)
16. Ronan Loughnane (Cistercian College Roscrea/Leinster)
17. Sam Illo (Wesley College/Leinster)
18. Rory McGuire (Blackrock College/Leinster)
19. Matthew Sands (City of Armagh RFC/St. Colman’s College Newry/Ulster)
20. Mark Boyle (Gorey RFC/Gorey Community School/Leinster)
21. Dara Gaskin (Campbell College/Ulster)
22. Cathal Forde (Corinthians RFC/Coláiste Iognáid/Connacht)
23. Zach Kavanagh (Bristol Bears/SGS Filton College/IQ Rugby)
24. Marcus Kiely (Newbridge College/Leinster)
IRELAND UNDER-18 CLUBS & SCHOOLS XV FIXTURES:
Ireland Under-18 Clubs & Schools v England Under-18 Counties, Energia Park, Wednesday, April 24, 2.30pm
Ireland Under-18 Clubs & Schools v England Under-18 Counties, Ashbourne RFC, Saturday, April 27, 2pm