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Murphy Makes Four Changes For Ireland U-20s’ Showdown With England

Murphy Makes Four Changes For Ireland U-20s’ Showdown With England

Second row Alan Spicer, pictured in action against Italy, returns to the Ireland Under-20 team to play England on Friday night ©INPHO/Ben Brady

Ireland Under-20 Men’s head coach Richie Murphy has confirmed his team for Friday’s crunch U-20 Six Nations clash with leaders England in Bath (kick-off 7.15pm – live on RTÉ 2 and the RTÉ Player).

Evan O’Connell captains the Ireland U-20s (sponsored by PwC) as Murphy’s side travel to the Recreation Ground bidding to build on their wins over France, Italy, and Wales from the opening rounds of the 2024 Championship.

Jack Murphy, the tournament’s top points scorer with 36 points, and Oliver Coffey lead an unchanged back-line. Ben O’Connor, Finn Treacy, and Hugo McLaughlin continue in the back-three, and Wilhelm de Klerk and Hugh Gavin are selected again in midfield.

Danny Sheehan, who has scored three tries in as many games, packs down with Alex Usanov and Jacob Boyd in the front row, with UCD’s Alan Spicer the fourth change to the starting pack, joining O’Connell in the second row.

Joe Hopes from the Ulster Academy switches back to blindside flanker, and Bryn Ward, the younger brother of Ireland Sevens international Zac, and Shannon’s Luke Murphy also feature in the defending champions’ back row.

Murphy has strong options on the replacements bench as Henry WalkerBen HowardPatreece BellBilly Corrigan, and Sean Edogbo provide the reinforcements up front. Backs Tadhg BrophySean Naughton, and Davy Colbert, completing the matchday 23.

Speaking about the team selection and the task ahead of them, Ireland U-20 assistant coach Willie Faloon said: “Sean (Edogbo) is dropping down to the bench. He was brilliant for us over the last couple of games. We started Alan (Spicer) over in France and he did a really good job over there.

“There’s a little bit of rotation. We’ve rotated a few players throughout (the tournament so far) and again, we’re building experience. Again, probably picking guys to do jobs.

“We’re trying to strengthen depth, and we’re quite lucky we have a strong squad this year in regards to the 30, 35 or 40 guys around us. Again, it gives us really good competition. (Brian) Gleeson is a massive loss (with an ankle injury), but we do have decent strength around us.”

He added: “We’ve two games left. We always take it one game at a time. We are not thinking of anything further down the line. On its own it’s a huge game to go over to the Rec.

“That’s our focus for now, it’s that simple. We’re totally aware of it (the Rec) as a real old-school rugby ground. England will have a massive support and it will be hostile, but it’s an exciting challenge.

“The Aviva open session was really good for us. They are always getting those pressure opportunities and it’s just about taking learnings out of those. I think the lads are in a really good place, they are calm, we have a plan, and we’ll see how we react when it comes to it.”

IRELAND UNDER-20 MEN’S Team & Replacements (v England Under-20s, 2024 Under-20 Men’s Six Nations Championship – Round 4, Recreation Ground, Bath, Friday, March 8, Kick-Off 7.15pm):

Player/Club/Province –

15. Ben O’Connor (UCC RFC/Munster)
14. Finn Treacy (Galwegians RFC/Connacht)
13. Wilhelm de Klerk (UCD RFC/Leinster)
12. Hugh Gavin (Galwegians RFC/Connacht)
11. Hugo McLaughlin (Lansdowne FC/Leinster)
10. Jack Murphy (Clontarf FC/Leinster)
9. Oliver Coffey (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster)
1. Alex Usanov (Clontarf FC/Leinster)
2. Danny Sheahan (Cork Constitution FC/Munster)
3. Jacob Boyd (Queen’s University Belfast RFC/Ulster)
4. Alan Spicer (UCD RFC/Leinster)
5. Evan O’Connell (UL Bohemian RFC/Munster) (capt)
6. Joe Hopes (Queen’s University Belfast RFC/Ulster)
7. Bryn Ward (Ballynahinch RFC/Ulster)
8. Luke Murphy (Shannon RFC/Munster)


16. Henry Walker (Queen’s University Belfast RFC/Ulster)
17. Ben Howard (Terenure College RFC/Leinster)
18. Patreece Bell (Sale Sharks/IQ Rugby)
19. Billy Corrigan (Old Wesley RFC/Leinster)
20. Sean Edogbo (UCC RFC/Munster)
21. Tadhg Brophy (Naas RFC/Leinster)
22. Sean Naughton (Galway Corinthians RFC/Connacht)
23. Davy Colbert (Dublin University FC/Leinster)