Meet the Irish team chasing Grand Slam glory in Wales

John O’Sullivan profiles the Irish U-20s side who will win the Grand Slam if they beat Wales on Friday night

The Ireland U-20s have already beaten England, Scotland, Italy and France. Photograph: Matteo Ciambelli/Inpho

The Ireland U-20s have already beaten England, Scotland, Italy and France. Photograph: Matteo Ciambelli/Inpho

 

Wales v Ireland, Friday 7.05pm, Colwyn Bay

15 Jake Flannery
Province
: Munster
Club: Shannon
School: Rockwell College
Age: 19

He plays his club rugby at outhalf but has discharged his role at fullback with considerable aplomb and been a focal point for some of Ireland’s best attacking moments.

14 Angus Kernohan
Province
: Ulster
Club: Queen’s University, Belfast
School: Ballymena Academy
Age: 20

A member of last year’s team, he has already played senior rugby with Ulster and was rewarded with an academy contract. He missed the first couple of matches through injury.

Liam Turner.
Liam Turner.

13 Liam Turner
Province
: Leinster
Club: Dublin University
School: Blackrock College
Age: 19

Last year’s Blackrock SCT winning captain shrugs off any comparison with some of the school’s alumni in the 13 jersey with a smile. He is an outstanding prospect and talented footballer in his own right.

12 Sean French
Province
: Munster
Club: Cork Constitution
School: PBC, Cork
Age: 19

Five tries in two recent matches for Cork Constitution on the wing, he adapted to the demands of inside centre superbly against France when taking over from injured captain David Hawkshaw.

11 Jonathan Wren
Province
: Munster
Club: Cork Constitution
School: PBC, Cork
Age: 19

Equally at home at fullback, his pace, balance and footwork have been a huge asset in the matches to date; one of the team’s standout players.

10 Harry Byrne
Province
: Leinster
Club: Lansdowne
School: St Michael’s College
Age: 19

He returns after missing the French game through injury. In his second season at this level, his game management has been excellent, so too his place-kicking.

Craig Casey.
Craig Casey.

9 Craig Casey
Province
: Munster
Club: Shannon
School: Ardscoil Ris
Age: 19

If searching for the heartbeat of this team then look no forward than the scrumhalf, quick, sharp, gutsy in the tackle with an eye for a gap and feel for when to raise the tempo.

1 Josh Wycherley
Province
: Munster
Club: Young Munster
School: Cistercian College, Roscrea
Age: 19

Two tries against France, his work-rate around the pitch on both sides of the ball has been exceptional, complementing the quality of his set piece contribution.

2 Dylan Tierney-Martin
Province
: Connacht
Club: Corinthians
School: St Joseph’s, Galway
Age: 19

Ireland’s try scoring dynamo up front and a young man who won’t take a backward step, a former life as a backrow forward is evident in his general play, particularly at the breakdown.

3 Thomas Clarkson
Province
: Leinster
Club: Dublin University
School: Blackrock College
Age: 19

Ireland’s solidity in the set scrum is a unit skill but a player who only turned 19 last month has been a central tenet while his mobility and application allow him to contribute in other facets of the game.

Charlie Ryan.
Charlie Ryan.

4 Charlie Ryan (capt)
Province: Leinster
Club: UCD
School: Blackrock College
Age: 20

He took over the captaincy from the unfortunate David Hawkshaw and among his leadership roles is to call the lineout. Another player returning from last year, his work-rate at the coalface is excellent.

5 Niall Murray
Province
: Connacht
Club: Buccaneers
School: St Aloysius College, Athlone
Age: 19

The six foot seven inch Athlone native only took up rugby four years ago having previously played soccer (Hodson Bay Celtic) and Gaelic football (Roscommon minors) but has made the move seamlessly.

6 Martin Moloney
Province
: Leinster
Club: Old Belvedere
School: Knockbeg College, Carlow
Age: 18

The youngest player in the squad, he native played basketball and Gaelic football at school and his rugby at Athy RFC. He’s been excellent in an outstanding backrow.

Scott Penny.
Scott Penny.

7 Scott Penny
Province
: Leinster
Club: UCD
School: St Michael’s College
Age: 19

He made his Leinster debut earlier in the season and that quality is obvious in every game he plays. His work at the breakdown, support play and tackling are of a very high level.

8 John Hodnett
Province
: Munster
Club: UCC
School: Mount Saint Michael’s, Rosscarbery
Age: 20

Another who only took up rugby in recent years, Hodnett has been brilliant throughout the tournament, especially in his ball carrying and that knack of breaking tackles.

**

16 John McKee
Province
: Leinster
Club: Old Belvedere
School: Campbell College, Belfast
Age: 19

A prop who converted to hooker, he captained Campbell to win the Ulster Senior Cup, before relocating to Dublin and joining the Leinster sub academy.

17 Callum Reid
Province
: Ulster
Club: Banbridge
School: RBAI
Age: 20

The prop made his debut against Italy when coming off the bench and retained his place in the squad for the French game when he won a second cap.

18 Ryan Lomas
Province
: Connacht
Club: Galwegians
School: Cistercian College, Roscrea
Age: 19

Injured in the warm-up in the opening game against England, the tighthead missed the Scotland and Italy games and was an unused replacement against France: the only uncapped player in the matchday 23.

19 Ryan Baird
Province
: Leinster
Club: Dublin University
School: St Michael’s College
Age: 19

Injury kept this second row out of the first three matches of the tournament but he made his debut when coming on as a replacement against France. He is outstanding athlete and a brilliant prospect.

20 David McCann
Province
: Ulster
Club: Banbridge
School: RBAI
Age: 18

A double Schools’ Cup winner with RBAI, the backrow forward is a member of the Ulster Academy and is the second youngest member of the squad.

21 Cormac Foley
Province
: Leinster
Club: St Mary’s College
School: St Gerard’s School
Age: 19

A try scoring replacement against England in the opening match, the scrumhalf started against Scotland in the absence of the injured Casey. He’s a very good footballer.

Ben Healy.
Ben Healy.

22 Ben Healy
Province
: Munster
Club: Garryowen
School: Glenstal Abbey
Age: 19

Stepped in at outhalf against France in the absence of the injured Harry Byrne and played very well, this former Munster Senior Cup winner has caught the eye playing first team for Garryowen this season.

23 Rob Russell
Province
: Leinster
Club: Dublin University
School: St Michael’s Colleg
Age: 20

The Dublin University player is equally at home at fullback or on the wing and has come on in all four matches in the tournament so far this season.

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