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Four players return as Carolan names beefy Ireland U20s Six Nations squad

Leinster lock James Ryan will captain a squad that includes some big forwards.

NIGEL CAROLAN HAS welcomed back four players from last year’s campaign in naming a 30-man squad for the forthcoming U20 Six Nations.

James Ryan Leinster man James Ryan will captain the squad. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Tighthead prop Conan O’Donnell of Connacht, Leinster loosehead Andrew Porter and the Ulster duo of hooker Adam McBurney and wing Jacob Stockdale played at this level in 2015.

Ulster’s Sam Arnold, who also played Ireland U20s last year, is currently injured and therefore unavailable despite being underage again. Another man to miss out through injury is the talented Munster out-half Bill Johnston, who will be U20 again in 2017.

Highly-rated Leinster lock James Ryan, formerly of St. Michael’s College and a man who has recently broken into his province’s A team, will captain Carolan’s squad.

With an entire front row returning to this level, and the likes of 120kg+ Connacht lock Peter Claffey and Ryan competing for second row spots, the Ireland U20s will be hopeful of a greatly improved performance from their pack at the set-piece this year.

Conan O'Donnell Conan O'Donnell has already played eight times for Pat Lam's Connacht. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Cillian Gallagher of Sligo RFC, Lansdowne’s Max Deegan and the likes of UCD’s Will Connors provide strong options for Carolan and new forwards coach Peter Malone [who is also the Munster academy manager] in the back row too.

In the backs, Leinster’s gifted playmaker Jimmy O’Brien is an intriguing option in the midfield, while Ulster’s Johnny McPhillips and Newcastle Falcon Brett Connon provide options at out-half.

Paul Kiernan – son of the Munster and Ireland legend Mike – is a probable starter in the centre, while his provincial teammate Shane Daly is another skillful and physically-capable contender.

Cork Con man John Poland will be favourite to start at scrum-half, while Terry Kennedy – scorer of six tries against a Leinster development side before Christmas – Stockdale and former Blackrock fullback Jack Power are among the candidates in the back three.

Paul Kiernan lifts the cup Munster U20 captain is among the midfielders. Source: Mike Shaughnessy/INPHO

Ireland U20s will play all their home games at Donnybrook this year and begin their campaign by welcoming Wales to Dublin on Friday 5 February.

While we have just the four players returning from last season, we have been really impressed with the attitude and enthusiasm that the new guys have brought with them into the squad,” said Carolan.

“We’ve had a number of camps with this group of players, as well as two warm up games against Leinster and Munster before Christmas, so now we are just looking forward to getting the championship started against Wales.”

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Ireland U20 squad for Six Nations:

Forwards:

James Bollard (Dublin University / Leinster)
Kelvin Browne (Shannon / Munster)
Peter Claffey (Galwegians / Connacht)
Will Connors (UCD / Leinster)
Max Deegan (Lansdowne / Leinster)
Shane Fenton (Young Munster / Munster)
John Foley (Shannon / Munster)
Cillian Gallagher (Sligo RFC / Connacht)
Greg Jones (UCD / Leinster)
Conor Kenny (Buccaneers / Connacht)
Adam McBurney (Ballymena / Ulster)
Sean O’Connor (Cashel / Munster)
Conan O’Donnell (Sligo / Connacht)
Andrew Porter (UCD / Leinster)
James Ryan (Lansdowne / Leinster)
Dan Walsh (Cork Con / Munster)

Backs:

Matthew Byrne (Terenure / Leinster)
Brett Connon (Newcastle Falcons / Exlies)
Shane Daly (Cork Con / Munster)
Hugo Keenan (UCD / Leinster)
Terry Kennedy (St. Mary’s / Leinster)
Stephen Kerins (Sligo / Connacht)
Paul Kiernan (UCC / Munster)
Robert Lyttle (Queen’s University / Ulster)
Johnny McPhillips (Queen’s University / Ulster)
Conor O’Brien (Clontarf / Leinster)
Jimmy O’Brien (UCD / Leinster)
John Poland (Cork Con / Munster)
Jack Power (UCD / Leinster)
Jacob Stockdale (Belfast Harlequins / Ulster)

Ireland U20 fixtures:

Ireland v Wales
Donnybrook
Friday February

France v Ireland
Parc des Sports et de l’Amitié, Narbonne
Friday 12 February

England v Ireland
Kingston Park, Newcastle
Friday 26 February

Ireland v Italy
Donnybrook
Friday 11 March

Ireland v Scotland
Donnybrook
Friday 18 March

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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