Combined Academies Squad Launched Ahead Of Italy Trip

08 December 2023

Combined Academies Squad Launched Ahead Of Italy Trip

A new Ireland Combined Academies Programme, sponsored by PwC, has been launched to provide young players from within the Provincial Academy system with access to competitive game time this December and January.

A 27-player Combined Academies Squad has been selected for a series of four matches against Italian opposition, following on from the success of the Emerging Ireland Tour to South Africa in September 2022, a programme which aided the development of recently capped players such as Jack Crowley, Cian Prendergast, Tom Stewart and Calvin Nash.

The Combined Academies Squad will be led by Head Coach Neil Doak, alongside Assistant Coaches Kieran Hallett, Andrew Browne and Tommy O’Donnell, and will provide those selected with the opportunity to work within a National Programme again, many of whom have come through the Ireland Age-Grade squads.

In conjunction with the four Provinces and their Academy Managers, the selected squad contains a number of players who were part of the Ireland U20s’ back-to-back Grand Slam campaigns in 2022 and 2023.

Doak’s side will travel to Italy this weekend for a double-header against Selezione U23 – an Italian selection from Benetton and Zebre – at Stadio Nando Capra in Parma on Sunday, 10 December and Friday, 15 December (Kick-off 2pm Irish time).

After Christmas, the Combined Academies will host their Italian opposition for two further matches on Sunday, 14 January and Friday, 19 January in Dublin with the venue to be confirmed in due course.

Commenting ahead of the matches, Peter Smyth, IRFU Head of Elite Player Development, said: “After a number of months of planning with the Provinces and our colleagues in the FIR, we are excited to announce this series of matches for the Christmas period.

“Following the success of the Emerging Ireland Tour, we are always exploring opportunities for our young players to access game time within a National set-up and there is also huge value in working alongside national coaches and support staff on a daily basis.

“Many of the squad have featured prominently for our U20s in recent years and it is important for us to ensure their development continues on an upward trajectory, and we look forward to travelling to Italy for an intense block of match preparation before the return fixtures in Dublin in January.”

Ireland Combined Academies Squad:

Forwards (15):

Mark Donnelly (Cork Constitution/Munster Rugby)
Zac Solomon (Banbridge/Ulster Rugby)
Fiachna Barrett (Corinthians/Connacht Rugby)
Charlie Irvine (Queen’s University/Ulster Rugby)
Joe Hopes (Queen’s University/Ulster Rugby)
Lorcan McLoughlin (Queen’s University/Ulster Rugby)
Daniel Okeke (Shannon/Munster Rugby)
Ruadhan Quinn (Young Munster/Munster Rugby)
Cameron Doak (Armagh/Ulster Rugby)
Eoin de Buitlear (Corinthians/Connacht Rugby)
Temi Lasisi (Lansdowne/Leinster Rugby)
Diarmuid Mangan (UCD/Leinster Rugby)
Mark Lee (Rainey Old Boys/Ulster Rugby)
Liam Molony (DUFC/Leinster Rugby)
George Hadden (Garryowen/Munster Rugby)

Backs (12):

Ethan Coughlan (Shannon/Munster Rugby)
James Humphreys (Queen’s University/Ulster Rugby)
Rory Telfer (Queen’s University/Ulster Rugby)
Daniel Hawkshaw (Buccaneers/Connacht Rugby)
Hugh Cooney (Clontarf/Leinster Rugby)
Josh O’Connor (Buccaneers/Connacht Rugby)
Chris Cosgrave (UCD/Leinster Rugby)
Conor McKee (Ballynahinch/Ulster Rugby)
Shane Mallon (Galwegians/Connacht Rugby)
Ben Brownlee (UCD/Leinster Rugby)
Aitzol King (Clontarf/Leinster Rugby)
Andrew Osborne (UCD/Leinster Rugby).


  • Sunday, 10 December, Stadio Nando Capra, Parma – 2pm
  • Friday, 15 December, Stadio Nando Capra, Parma – 2pm
  • Sunday, 14 January, Dublin (TBC)
  • Friday, 19 January, Dublin (TBC).