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Combined Academies Squad Launched Ahead Of Italy Trip

Combined Academies Squad Launched Ahead Of Italy Trip

Ruadhan Quinn, Fiachna Barrett and George Hadden all featured for the Grand Slam-winning Ireland Under-20s last season ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

A new Ireland Combined Academies Programme, sponsored by PwC, has been launched to provide young players from within the provincial Academy system with access to competitive game-time this December and January.

A 27-player Combined Academies squad has been selected for a series of four matches against Italian opposition.

This follows on from the success of the Emerging Ireland tour to South Africa in September 2022, a programme which aided the development of recently-capped Ireland internationals such as Jack Crowley, Cian Prendergast, Tom Stewart and Calvin Nash.

The Combined Academies squad will be led by head coach Neil Doak, alongside assistant coaches Kieran Hallett, Andrew Browne and Tommy O’Donnell, and will provide those selected with the opportunity to work within a national programme again.

Many of those travelling have come through the Ireland age-grade squads, and in conjunction with the four provinces and their Academy Managers, the selected squad contains a number of players who were part of the Ireland Under-20s’ back-to-back Grand Slam campaigns in 2022 and 2023.

Doak’s side will travel to Italy this weekend for a double header against Selezione Under-23 (an Italian selection from Benetton and Zebre) at Stadio Nando Capra in Parma on Sunday, December 10, and Friday, December 15 (kick-off 2pm Irish time).

After Christmas, the Combined Academies will host their Italian opponents for two further matches in Dublin on Sunday, January 14, and Friday, January 19. The venue will be confirmed in due course.

Commenting ahead of the matches, Peter Smyth, IRFU Head of Elite Player Development, said: “After a number of months of planning with the provinces and our colleagues in the FIR, we are excited to announce this series of matches for the Christmas period.

“Following the success of the Emerging Ireland tour, we are always exploring opportunities for our young players to access game-time within a national set-up, and there is also huge value in working alongside national coaches and support staff on a daily basis.

“Many of the squad have featured prominently for our Under-20s in recent years and it is important for us to ensure their development continues on an upward trajectory.

“We look forward to travelling to Italy for an intense block of match preparation before the return fixtures in Dublin in January.”

IRELAND COMBINED ACADEMIES SQUAD (v Italy’s Selezione Under-23, December 2023-January 2024):

Backs (12) –

Ethan Coughlan (Shannon RFC/Munster)
James Humphreys (Queen’s University Belfast RFC/Ulster)
Rory Telfer (Queen’s University Belfast RFC/Ulster)
Daniel Hawkshaw (Buccaneers RFC/Connacht)
Hugh Cooney (Clontarf FC/Leinster)
Josh O’Connor (Buccaneers RFC/Connacht)
Chris Cosgrave (UCD RFC/Leinster)
Conor McKee (Ballynahinch RFC/Ulster)
Shane Mallon (Galwegians RFC/Connacht)
Ben Brownlee (UCD RFC/Leinster)
Aitzol King (Clontarf FC/Leinster)
Andrew Osborne (UCD FC/Leinster)

Forwards (15) –

Mark Donnelly (Cork Constitution FC/Munster)
Zac Solomon (Banbridge RFC/Ulster)
Fiachna Barrett (Galway Corinthians RFC/Connacht)
Charlie Irvine (Queen’s University Belfast RFC/Ulster)
Joe Hopes (Queen’s University Belfast RFC/Ulster)
Lorcan McLoughlin (Queen’s University Belfast RFC/Ulster)
Daniel Okeke (Shannon RFC/Munster)
Ruadhan Quinn (Young Munster RFC/Munster)
Cameron Doak (City of Armagh RFC/Ulster)
Eoin de Buitléar (Galway Corinthians RFC/Connacht)
Temi Lasisi (Lansdowne FC/Leinster)
Diarmuid Mangan (UCD RFC/Leinster)
Mark Lee (Rainey RFC/Ulster)
Liam Molony (Dublin University FC/Leinster)
George Hadden (Garryowen FC/Munster)


  • Sunday, December 10, Stadio Nando Capra, Parma – 2pm
  • Friday, December 15, Stadio Nando Capra, Parma – 2pm
  • Sunday, January 14, Dublin (TBC)
  • Friday, January 19, Dublin (TBC)