Head coach Noel McNamara has made two changes to his Ireland Under-20 team, sponsored by PwC, to face Wales in round 2 of the Under-20 Six Nations at Irish Independent Park on Friday (kick-off 7.15pm).
Ulster winger Ben Moxham is set for his first appearance at this age-grade, replacing Ethan McIlroy who is unavailable due to injury, while the other change to the starting XV sees Marcus Hanan come into the front row.
Otherwise McNamara has rewarded the players who performed so impressively in the 38-26 opening round victory over Scotland in Cork last week, with Ulster’s David McCann once again captaining the team from the back row.
Munster out-half Jack Crowley, who was named the PwC man-of-the-match in the six-try win over Scotland, will hope to pull the strings from half-back alongside Lewis Finlay, while Moxham joins Oran McNulty and Andrew Smith in an exciting back-three.
Dan Kelly and Hayden Hyde continue their midfield partnership, with Ben Murphy, Tim Corkery and Dublin University regular Luis Faria providing back-line cover from the replacements bench.
Clane RFC product Hanan is named at loosehead and joins Ulster hooker Tom Stewart and vice-captain Thomas Clarkson, who has now started each of Ireland’s last seven Under-20 Six Nations fixtures, in the front row.
Thomas Ahern, who touched down against Scotland with a great burst of pace, and Brian Deeny form the second row pairing, and the tough-tackling back row of Sean O’Brien, Mark Hernan and McCann is also unchanged.
There is plenty of front row experience among the options available to McNamara from the bench, including John McKee, Harry Noonan and Charlie Ward, with fellow forwards Joe McCarthy and Cian Prendergast completing the matchday 23.
“We got things started on a positive note last Friday in Cork and now that we are up and running in the Championship, we are looking forward to improving upon that performance,” said McNamara.
“This Friday night presents a new challenge against Wales. The players have worked hard during the week with the emphasis very much on ourselves and building towards this week’s game.
“We are excited about getting out and performing in front of our supportive and enthusiastic home crowd at Irish Independent Park.”
Tickets for the visit of Wales to Irish Independent Park are available from Ticketmaster.ie.
IRELAND UNDER-20 Team & Replacements (v Wales Under-20s, 2020 Under-20 Six Nations Championship, Irish Independent Park, Friday, February 7, kick-off 7.15pm):
15. Oran McNulty (Millfield School/Galway Corinthians RFC/Connacht)
14. Ben Moxham (Larne High School/Ballymena RFC/Ulster)
13. Dan Kelly (Kirkham Grammar/Loughborough University/IQ Rugby)
12. Hayden Hyde (Cranleigh School/Ballynahinch RFC/Ulster)
11. Andrew Smith (St. Michael’s College/Clontarf FC/Leinster)
10. Jack Crowley (Bandon RFC/Cork Constitution FC/Munster)
9. Lewis Finlay (Down High School/Malone RFC/Ulster)
1. Marcus Hanan (Clane RFC/Old Belvedere RFC/Leinster)
2. Tom Stewart (Belfast Royal Academy/Ballynahinch RFC/Ulster)
3. Thomas Clarkson (Blackrock College/Dublin University FC/Leinster)
4. Thomas Ahern (Waterpark RFC/Shannon RFC/Munster)
5. Brian Deeny (Wexford Wanderers RFC/Clontarf FC/Leinster)
6. Sean O’Brien (Blackrock College/UCD RFC/Leinster)
7. Mark Hernan (St. Michael’s College/Lansdowne FC/Leinster)
8. David McCann (RBAI/Banbridge RFC/Ulster) (capt)
16. John McKee (Campbell College/Old Belvedere RFC/Leinster)
17. Harry Noonan (Greystones RFC/Old Wesley RFC/Leinster)
18. Charlie Ward (Tullow RFC/Clontarf FC/Leinster)
19. Joe McCarthy (Blackrock College/Dublin University FC/Leinster)
20. Cian Prendergast (Newbridge College/UCD RFC/Leinster)
21. Ben Murphy (Presentation College Bray/Clontarf FC/Leinster)
22. Tim Corkery (Kilkenny RFC/Lansdowne FC/Leinster)
23. Luis Faria (Newpark Comprehensive/Dublin University FC/Leinster)