Paul Boyle ready to lead injury-hit Ireland under-20s to Georgia

No playing survivors remain from the side beaten in last year’s World Cup final

Ireland's under-20 captain Paul Boyle was informed of his new status – he led the side for most of the Six Nations Championship game against France following an early injury to Calvin Nash – while driving up to Dublin on Tuesday afternoon.

“I had to pull over fast, because I’ll tell you it was a surprise to me. I was delighted to get it. The lads that have captained the team so far have experience and they’ll be able to help me along the way.”

The Gorey native didn't dwell on what might be labelled as a 'captaincy curse,' as previous incumbents in the role this season - Jack Kelly, Cillian Gallagher, Calvin Nash and Caelan Doris - have all sustained injuries.

Lansdowne number eight Boyle leads a 28-man Ireland squad to the Under-20 World Cup in Georgia next month, where they will face pool matches against Italy, Scotland and New Zealand, the latter who they beat en-route to the final last season, before losing to the home country, England.


Injuries to Jordan Larmour (ankle), Bill Johnston (fibula), Johnny McPhillips (groin), Tommy O'Brien (hamstring), Rob Lyttle (shoulder) and Gallagher (shoulder), deny the travelling party from serious talent, prompting the introduction of six potential new caps.

The injuries to McPhillips and Johnston mean that Conor Dean - a son of former Ireland international and current senior team manager, Paul - Angus Curtis, a son of David, who won 13-caps for Ireland in from 1991-1992, and Young Munster's outstanding pivot, Alan Tynan, will contest the number 10 jersey.

Naas prop Jordan Duggan, Skibbereen-born centre David McCarthy and former Clongowes fullback Michael Sylvester are the other new faces in the squad.

Peter Malone takes over as head coach for the tournament after Nigel Carolan stepped down following the Six Nations to prepare for his new role as backs' coach with Connacht.

Former Ireland scrumhalf and Irish Under-19s coach Kieran Campbell has been added to the coaching ticket to look after the backs. There are no survivors from last year's playing group that took Ireland to the final in Manchester.

There is a familiar look to Ireland’s pool opponents, albeit that Ireland squeaked home 20-19 against Scotland with a late try, and had the exact same margin to spare against Italy, winning 27-26. Ireland’s progression through the Six Nations was pronounced and they were unlucky not to topple Grand Slam champions England in the final match at Donnybrook.

But Malone knows that his young charges have to kick on again in Georgia to be competitive. “I was coaching the defence in the Six Nations and I thought our defensive consistency at times (was lacking).

“We were good for periods, we just made very, very poor errors in the middle of games, two or three minutes knocking off and that cost us. The big thing for me is to get that defensively consistency right and you have to get your basics right.”

The post Six Nations review highlighted as much with a high missed tackle count, while retaining the ball in contact is another area in which the team will look to improve.

Malone was philosophical about the players denied to him through injury. “We knew that they would be missing from a fair way out and we planned for it. We had two trial games and introduced a wide variety of players.

“The squad that’s going, players are selfish beings, they won’t really care about the guys that are missing. They just want to make their own stamp and take their opportunity.”

Ireland’s matches in the under-20 World Cup will be broadcast live in Eir Sport, ITV and also streamed live on the World Rugby website.

Ireland Under 20 squad: (Forwards) - P Boyle (Lansdowne/Leinster, capt), C Connolly (Dublin University/Leinster), J Conway (UL Bohemian/Munster), G Coombes (Young Munster/Munster), P Cooper (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), C Doris (St Mary's College/Leinster), O Dowling (Lansdowne/Leinster), J Duggan (Naas/Leinster), J Foley (Shannon/Munster), R Kelleher (UCD/Leinster), S Masterson (Corinthians/Connacht), T McElroy (Lansdowne/Leinster), G McGrath (Lansdowne/Leinster), M Rea (QUB/Ulster), J Regan (UCD/Leinster), F Wycherley (Young Munster/Munster). (Backs) – A Curtis (QUB/Ulster), C Dean (UCD/Leinster), C Frawley (UCD/Leinster), C Hogan (Dublin University/Munster), J Kelly (Dublin University/Leinster), D McCarthy (Garryowen/Munster), G Mullin (UCD/Leinster), C Nash (Young Munster/Munster), J Stafford (Shannon/Munster), J Stewart (QUB/Ulster), M Silvester (Dublin University/Leinster),A Tynan (Young Munster/Munster).

Fixtures (all kickoff times Irish)

Wednesday, May 31st: Pool B – Ireland v Italy, Kutaisi Stadium, Kutaisi (12.30).

Saturday, June 4th: Pool B – Ireland v Scotland, Kutaisi Stadium, Kutaisi (10.0am)

Thursday, June 8th: Pool  B – Ireland v New Zealand, Kutaisi Stadium, Kutaisi (12.30).

Tuesday, June 13th: Semi-finals: Avchala Stadium or Mikheil Meskhi Stadium

Sunday, June 18th: Playoffs (1-8): Avchala Stadium or Mikheil Meskhi Stadium

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan is an Irish Times sports writer