Ireland under-20s back on familiar Cork turf after two-year absence

Richie Murphy’s side take on Wales in Six Nations opener at Musgrave Park

Patrick Cambell made a big impession at fullback for Munster in their opening two Heineken Champions Cup games. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Under 20 Six Nations: Ireland v Wales, Musgrave Park, Friday, 8.0 – Live on RTÉ 2

Following a gap of almost two years, the Ireland under-20s will finally return to home soil in the Six Nations when they welcome Wales to Musgrave Park in Cork this evening.

On February 7th, 2020 at the same venue, current Munster senior star Jack Crowley inspired Ireland to a 36-22 bonus-point victory over the Welsh. This was the second of three games they played in that year’s championship before Covid-19 ultimately brought the competition to a premature end.

When it finally made a return last summer, all 15 games took place in Cardiff Arms Park. Although Ireland comfortably put Wales to the sword in their own backyard during 2021, head coach Richie Murphy is nonetheless relieved to be welcoming them to a more familiar setting on this occasion.

“We’re excited about the challenges ahead. The prospect of returning to Cork and playing in front of a big crowd, including family and friends, is a really exciting one for the players and the management team,” Murphy acknowledged.


One of four survivors from last year’s campaign – Jack Boyle, Mark Morrissey and Chay Mullins are the others – Ulster’s Reuben Crothers will captain the team from openside flanker.

However, the player whose inclusion will arguably generate the most excitement is fullback Patrick Campbell. An All-Ireland minor football winner with Cork back in 2019, he subsequently opted to concentrate full-time on rugby and it is a decision that has paid rich dividends.

Only a few short weeks after he was handed an academy contract by Munster, a Covid-hit crisis within the province saw Campbell starting back-to-back Heineken Champions Cup games against Wasps and Castres.

Outside centre Fionn Gibbons is another man with a strong GAA pedigree, having featured extensively in the underage ranks of Dublin club Castleknock. He partners Leinster colleague Ben Brownlee in the Irish midfield and will be looking to provide Ireland with a strong attacking platform on the opening weekend of the championship.

Despite also gaining European experience this season, Munster duo Ethan Coughlan and Tony Butler have to be content with spots among the replacements.

IRELAND: P Campbell; C Mullins, F Gibbons, B Brownlee, S Mallon; C Tector, M Devine; J Boyle, J McCormick, S Wilson; C O'Tighearnaigh, M Morrissey; J McNabney, R Crothers, J Culhane.

Replacements: J Hanlon, O Michel, R McGuire, A McNamee, R O'Sullivan, E Coughlan, T Butler, A King.

WALES: C Winnett; H Houston, B Bradley, E James, O Andrew; D Edwards, H Williams; J Cowell, E Daniel, N Evans; J Peard, L Jones; A Mann, Ethan Fackrell, B Moa.

Replacements: M Veness, R Barratt, Ellis Fackrell, B Williams, T Cowan, M Lloyd, J Lloyd, J Hawkins.