Three returning players as Leinster's Kelly named Ireland U20 captain

Cillian Gallagher, Johnny McPhillips and John Foley are back from last year.

IRELAND U20 HEAD coach Nigel Carolan has named Leinster’s Jack Kelly as his new captain ahead of the Six Nations.

The Trinity man will lead a fresh-looking Ireland squad for the opening rounds of the tournament, with just three players returning from last year’s campaign – one that saw Ireland famously beat New Zealand at the Junior World Championship.

Jack Kelly runs in their fourth try of the game St. Michael's alumnus Jack Kelly is captain. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Ulster out-half Johnny McPhillips, Connacht lock Cillian Gallagher and Munster back row John Foley are the three men who will look to bring their experience to bear in 2017, with Munster’s Bill Johnston missing out as he moves back towards full fitness following an ankle injury.

In captaining the squad, Kelly will continue a proud tradition for St. Michael’s College.

The fullback, who also plays at outside centre, is now the sixth former St. Michael’s student to skipper the Ireland U20s, following in the footsteps of James Ryan, Josh Murphy, Nick McCarthy, Dan Leavy and Luke McGrath.

Kelly is also one of 14 Leinster players to make the Ireland U20s cut this year, while Munster provide 10 players, Ulster have had six of their players named, and Connacht provide two.

Ireland open their campaign away to Scotland at Broadwood Stadium on Friday 3 February, before a trip to take on Italy in Prato the following weekend.

Nigel Carolan dejected Carolan and the U20s beat New Zealand last year. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“As is the nature of U20s rugby, we have a new-look squad this season, with just a few of last year’s players returning, so it will be a new and exciting challenge for both the players and management,” said Carolan of his squad.

What are they
really like?

Rare insights on sport's biggest names from the writers who know them best. Listen to Behind the Lines podcast.

Become a Member

“We had a number of camps before Christmas and the attitude and enthusiasm that the players brought with them to these camps has been extremely positive.

“While international rugby at U20s level will be new to the most of these players, the majority of them have all come through the IRFU player pathway and will have worn the green jersey at U18 and U19 levels.

“Several of the squad have also gotten good game time with their provincial A teams in the British and Irish Cup this season, so that should stand to them.”

Ireland U20 squad:


Paul Boyle (Lansdowne FC / Leinster)
Charlie Connolly (Dublin University / Leinster)
Joey Conway (UL Bohemians / Munster)
Gavin Coombes (Young Munster / Munster)
Peter Cooper (Belfast Harlequins / Ulster)
Caelan Doris (St. Mary’s College / Leinster)
Oisin Dowling (Lansdowne FC / Leinster)
John Foley (Shannon RFC / Munster)
Cillian Gallagher (Corinthians RFC / Connacht)
Ronan Kelleher (UCD / Leinster)
Sean Masterson (Corinthians / Connacht)
Tadgh McElroy (Lansdowne FC / Leinster)
Rory Mulvihill (UCD RFC / Leinster)
Marcus Rea (Queen’s University / Ulster)
Jack Regan (UCD RFC / Leinster)
Fineen Wycherley (Young Munster / Munster)


Rory Butler (Queen’s University / Ulster)
Peadar Collins (Garryowen / Munster)
Liam Coombes (Garryowen / Munster)
Conor Dean (St. Mary’s College / Leinster)
Conor Fitzgerald (Shannon RFC / Munster)
Colm Hogan (Dublin University / Munster)
Ciaran Frawley (UCD RFC / Leinster)
Jack Kelly (Dublin University / Leinster) (captain)
Jordan Larmour (St. Mary’s College / Leinster)
Jack Lyons (Young Munster / Munster)
Robert Lyttle (Queen’s University / Ulster)
Johnny McPhillips (Ballynahinch / Ulster)
Gavin Mullin (UCD RFC / Leinster)
Calvin Nash (Young Munster / Munster)
Tommy O’Brien (UCD RFC / Leinster)
Johnny Stewart (Queen’s University / Ulster)

The42 is on Instagram! Tap the button below on your phone to follow us!

Hogg wants Scotland to be inspired by Warriors for Ireland clash

England stars Haskell and Clifford to have injuries assessed ahead of Six Nations

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

Read next: