IRELAND U-20’s face Wales in top of table clash

IRELAND take on Wales in a top of the table ESB International U-20 Six Nations Rugby Championship match at Dubarry Park, Athlone, on this Friday night, March 12th, kick off 7.30 p.m.

This eagerly anticipated, pivotal meeting between the top two pace-setters in this season’s championship should bring a bumper crowd to the Athlone venue where Ireland have lost just once in five seasons.  Victory will give the winners a decided edge with just one round of fixtures remaining and a home win would certainly put the boys in green into the driving seat as their final match against Scotland on Friday week is also a home one for them in Dubarry Park where they are virtually unbeatable.

Both sides have been scoring relatively freely so it promises to be a cracking and hugely entertaining contest in which Ireland will look to winger Darren Hudson to repeat his try-scoring exploits of the opening round win over Italy. Fullback Andrew Conway has featured for Heineken Cup holders Leinster in the interim and is surely another star in the making as is centre Brendan Macken. Forwards Dominic Ryan, Niall Annett and captain Rhys Ruddock are other young guns who will hope to emulate the likes of Keith Earls, Jonathan Sexton, Cian Healy, Sean O’Brien and Sean Cronin who have graduated to the Ireland Senior squad after starring for the U-20’s in the recent past.

Wales, however, will not fear Ireland and indeed they are the only side to defeat the home nation in Athlone. Ironically, Mike Ruddock (father of Ireland’s skipper Rhys) is a renowned Wales international who has coached Leinster! But Ireland will look to the power of Ben Marshall, David O’Callaghan and Jack O’Connell to give them the upper hand and, if halfbacks John Cooney and James McKinney play to potential, the home nation can drive on towards championship glory.

Such is the interest in this match that, in addition to RTE2 TV, Wales TV is also transmitting this match live. It should be a thriller and tickets are selling well, especially Stand and Family tickets. Although cash will be taken at the turnstiles, tickets can be purchased in advance at Buccaneers RFC, The Bounty, Musicworld Athlone, Keenan Sports Athlone, and Harten’s of Moate. Half price discount vouchers have been distributed to schools in the region; these vouchers admit children under-15 at half-price provided they are accompanied by an adult.

So come along early, catch the atmosphere and enjoy the craic, and roar on Ireland in what should be another memorable sporting occasion in the midlands!

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