Ireland U20s make four changes for visit of improving Italy

Mullins, Postlethwaite, Gibbons and Devine start as Murphy’s side seek third successive win

Ireland Under-20 v Italy Under-20, Musgrave Park (8.0, live on Virgin Media)

Ireland are forewarned and not just in terms of Italy's historic achievement in beating England, 6-0 in Treviso, for the first time in an Under-20 Six Nations Championship match last time out.

The Italians retain 12 of the team, including the entire pack,that beat an Irish side 15-8 in a pre-tournament warm-up match in UCD last December.

Drawing a form-line from that match is not straightforward as only five Irish players from that defeat, Chay Mullins, Fionn Gibbons, Rory McGuire, Mark Morrissey and captain, Reuben Crothers start in Cork tonight.


The Italians make two changes and several positional switches from the team that beat England.

Federico Cuminetti comes in on the right with Ross Michael Vintcent named in the backrow. Lorenzo Pani moves from right wing to fullback, Francois Carlo Mey from fullback to outside centre with Dewi Passarella moving in one place to inside centre.

In number eight Giacomo Ferrari and props Luca Rizzoli and Riccardo Genovese, the visitors possess three very highly-regarded young players.

Ireland's head coach Richie Murphy has made four alterations from the side that edged past France 17-16 in Aix-en-Province. Mullins, who scored a brace of tries against Wales, has recovered from the head injury that saw him miss the French match and returns on the right wing.

Ulster's Jude Postlethwaite, who played for this age-grade side last season and is an Ireland Sevens international, lines out for the first time in the current campaign. Ben Brownlee, who scored a try against Wales and was the match-winner in the French game, switches to inside centre.

Good place

Fionn Gibbons is named on the left wing having played centre against Wales. He missed the victory over France. Matthew Devine reclaims the No 9 jersey from Ethan Coughlan, while the pack is unchanged.

Irish hooker James McCormick, another to have scored tries in both matches to date, feels that the team are in a good place ahead of this latest challenge.

“We came up against two different teams and got two different results.

“It gives us a lot of confidence that we can get ahead and stay ahead, and then we can go away and we went behind but we came back to win again. We back ourselves, we back our drills. At the end of the day it’s about who wants it more and if we can get the mental space right, I always think it doesn’t matter what we come up against, we can overcome it.”

France beat Italy 41-15 by playing a high tempo game with width and that’s exactly what Ireland are going to have to do to win; reduce the number of set-pieces, guarantee quick ruck ball and be aggressive and connected in defence.

IRELAND Under-20: P Campbell (Young Munster); C Mullins (Bristol Bears), J Postlethwaite (Banbridge), B Brownlee (UCD), F Gibbons (UCD); C Tector (Lansdowne), M Devine (Galway Corinthians); J Boyle (UCD), J McCormick (Ballymena), R McGuire (UCD); C O'Tighearnaigh (UCD), M Morrissey (UCD); J McNabney (Ballymena), R Crothers (Ballynahinch, capt), J Culhane (UCD). Replacements: J Hanlon (Ballynahinch), O Michel (Lansdowne), D McSweeney (Shannon), A McNamee (Malone), L McLoughlin (QUB), E Coughlan (Shannon), T Butler (Garryowen), D O'Grady (UCD).

ITALY Under-20: L Pani; F Cuminetti, F Carlo Mey, D Passarella, F Lazzarin; N Teneggi, A Garbisi; L Rizzoli, L Frangini, R Genovese; A Ortombina, R Andreoli; D Odiase, RM Vintcent, G Ferrari. Replacements: T Scramoncin, V Bizzotto, R Bartolini, C Berlese, G Cenedese, G Tomaselli, G Sante, A Fusari.

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan is an Irish Times sports writer