Ireland Under-20 Head Coach Noel McNamara has today named his extended 24-player squad for Sunday’s game against Munster Development at Irish Independent Park (kick-off 1pm, free entry).
Leinster Academy tighthead Thomas Clarkson, who started all five of Ireland’s games during their Grand Slam-winning Six Nations campaign last season, captains the side for Sunday’s hit-out in Cork.
Clarkson is one of six players from last year’s squad involved again for the 2020 season, with his Leinster Academy team-mate Brian Deeny and Munster flanker Thomas Ahern named to start, while John McKee, Charlie Ward and Max O’Reilly are among the replacements.
Connacht full-back Oran McNulty is joined in the back three by Ethan McIlroy, who last week made his senior Ulster debut in the Guinness PRO14 inter-pro defeat to Leinster, and Clontarf winger Andrew Smith, with UCC’s Harry O’Riordan and Ulster Academy centre Hayden Hyde in midfield.
Cork Constitution out-half Jack Crowley, who recently won the Energia All-Ireland League December Try of the Month award, partners Lewis Finlay in the half-backs, while Marcus Hannan, Tom Stewart and Clarkson make up the front row.
Deeny and Ahern supply experience in the engine room with UCD’s Sean O’Brien, Mark Hernan and Joshua Dunne of Galwegians making up the back row.
Speaking ahead of the game against Munster Development, which serves as an important building block ahead of the 2020 Six Nations, McNamara told IrishRugby.ie: “It will be nice to get down to Cork and for the lads to get a feel for what it’s going to be like at Irish Independent Park.
“We’re really looking forward to seeing where the benchmark is as much as anything else and it’s an opportunity for us then to build some momentum and cohesion which is really important.
“The result won’t be something we’ll be focusing on at this stage, as we’ll be looking at whether we can achieve that cohesion while also using the game to identify the areas we are doing well in and then the areas we need to place a little bit more attention on in the coming weeks.”
Ireland open their Under-20 Six Nations campaign against Scotland at Irish Independent Park on Friday, January 31 (kick-off 7.15pm) and tickets are available to buy here.
Ireland Under-20s (v Munster Development):
15. Oran McNulty (Corinthians RFC / Connacht)
14. Ethan McIlroy (Queens RFC / Ulster)
13. Harry O’Riordan (UCC RFC / Munster)
12. Hayden Hyde (Ballynahinch RFC / Ulster)
11. Andrew Smith (Clontarf FC / Leinster)
10. Jack Crowley (Cork Constitution FC / Munster)
9. Lewis Finlay (Malone RFC / Ulster)
1. Marcus Hannan (Old Belvedere RFC / Leinster)
2. Tom Stewart (Ballynahinch RFC / Ulster)
3. Tom Clarkson (Dublin University FC / Leinster)(captain)
4. Brian Deeny (Clontarf FC / Leinster)
5. Thomas Ahern (Shannon RFC / Munster)
6. Sean O’Brien (UCD RFC / Leinster)
7. Mark Hernan (Lansdowne FC / Leinster)
8. Joshua Dunne (Galwegians RFC / Connacht).
16. John McKee (Old Belvedere / Leinster)
17. Harry Noonan (Old Wesley RFC / Leinster)
18. Charlie Ward (Clontarf FC / Leinster)
19. Joe McCarthy (Dublin University FC / Leinster)
20. Alex Soroka (Dublin University FC / Leinster)
21. Conor McKee (Queens RFC / Ulster)
22. Cathal Forde (Corinthians RFC / Connacht)
23. Diarmuid Kilgallen (Galwegians RFC / Connacht)
24. Max O’Reilly (Dublin University FC / Leinster).