Head Coach Richie Murphy has named his Ireland U20s Match Day Squad, sponsored by PwC, for the opening game of the U20 Six Nations against Wales in Colwyn Bay on Friday night (Kick-off 7pm, live on Virgin Media Two).

Gus McCarthy captains Ireland as they begin their 2023 Championship against the Welsh at Stadiwm CSM, with three players who featured during last year’s Grand Slam-winning campaign selected to start.

Leinster duo Diarmuid Mangan and Conor O’Tighearnaigh start in the second row, while Ulster back row James McNabney is named at blindside flanker.

Additionally, three players – Sam Prendergast, George Hadden, and Harry West – played for Ireland during the U20s Summer Series in Italy last year, ensuring Murphy’s squad contains valuable experience heading into Friday’s Championship opener.

Prendergast, the younger brother of Ireland international Cian, starts at out-half in a half-back pairing with Fintan Gunne. Hugh Cooney and John Devine are named in the midfield, with James Nicholson, Ike Anagu and Hugh Gavin selected in the back three.

Up front, Hadden is joined in the front row by skipper McCarthy and Paddy McCarthy, the younger brother of Ireland second row Joe.

Mangan and O’Tighearnaigh are in the engine room, with McNabney and Munster duo Ruadhán Quinn and Brian Gleeson in the back row.

On the bench, Danny Sheahan, George Morris, Fiachna Barrett, Evan O’Connell and Jacob Sheahan provide the reinforcements in the pack, with Oscar Cawley, West and Henry McErlean completing the Match Day 23.

Commenting ahead of the game, Murphy said: “We are excited to get the Six Nations underway in Wales on Friday night, following a good period of preparation for the group. The squad have come together well over the last couple of weeks, gelling both on and off the pitch, and we have now turned the focus this week to performance.”

The match is live on Virgin Media Two/BBC iPlayer.

Ireland U20s:

15. James Nicholson (UCD/Leinster)
14. Ike Anagu (La Rochelle/IQ Rugby)
13. Hugh Cooney (Clontarf/Leinster)
12. John Devine (Corinthians/Connacht)
11. Hugh Gavin (Galwegians/Connacht)
10. Sam Prendergast (Lansdowne/Leinster)
9. Fintan Gunne (Terenure/Leinster)

1. George Hadden (Clontarf/Leinster)
2. Gus McCarthy (UCD/Leinster)(captain)
3. Paddy McCarthy (DUFC/Leinster)
4. Diarmuid Mangan (UCD/Leinster)
5. Conor O’Tighearnaigh (UCD/Leinster)
6. James McNabney (Ballymena/Ulster)
7. Ruadhán Quinn (Old Crescent/Munster)
8. Brian Gleeson (Garryowen/Munster)

Replacements:

16. Danny Sheahan (UCC/Munster)
17. George Morris (Lansdowne/Leinster)
18. Fiachna Barrett (Corinthians/Connacht)
19. Evan O’Connell (UL Bohemians/Munster)
20. Jacob Sheahan (UCC/Munster)
21. Oscar Cawley (Naas/Leinster)
22. Harry West (Buccaneers/Connacht)
23. Henry McErlean (Terenure/Leinster).

The Committee of the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) has unanimously approved a proposal to achieve 40% female representation on the IRFU Committee by the end of this year. This recommendation will now be brought to the IRFU Annual Council meeting in July for consideration and the adoption of the necessary law changes to affect this decision. In the meantime, the IRFU will engage with the Provinces and other stakeholders on the details of this proposal.

IRFU Chief Executive Kevin Potts said: “The IRFU has committed to achieving 40% gender representation on the Union Committee by the end of this year. Today’s announcement is further affirmation of our commitment to women in rugby in Ireland. We will continue to work with our four Provinces and all of the stakeholders across Irish Rugby to this end.”

-ENDS-

CONNACHT 43 – 24 EMIRATES LIONS
 
Jack Carty became Connacht’s all-time leading points scorer on a night when the club claimed a bonus point win over the Emirates Lions.
 
Eric Elwood’s tally of 1152 almost seemed insurmountable for many years, but the Athlone man came into the game just six points behind that total and he duly needed just 26 minutes to pass the legendary out-half.
 
It was a fitting night to break the record as Connacht produced an excellent attacking display of six tries, with the bonus point wrapped up before half-time. Andy Friend’s side now head into the Six Nations break well in the hunt for a playoff spot come the end of the season.
 
The first try arrived after just three minutes with Diarmuid Kilgallen touching down as Connacht looked the stretch the Lions defence early on. The visitors responded almost immediately with a penalty in front of the posts, but Carty responded with three points of his own. Asenathi Ntabakanye then put the Lions in front for the first and only time of the game, spotting a gap under the posts which was converted by Jordan Hendrikse.
 
A frantic opening quarter continued to entertain the 4258 in attendance as Shane Delahunt regained the lead for the home side, breaking off the side of a maul in touch down. From there Connacht really began to stretch their legs, first through Caolin Blade for the first of his three tries, and then with Tiernan O’Halloran with the bonus point just before the break. Both were converted by Carty, with the first receiving a rapturous reception as Carty’s new record-points total was confirmed.
 
The South Africans refused to lie down however and they touched down for their second try through Henko van Wyk, leaving the score 29-17 to the hosts at the break.
 
Any fear that the Johannesburg side would mount a comeback arguably came to an end just minutes into the second half, when a block-down from Tiernan O’Halloran allowed Blade to gather the loose ball to make it try number five.
 
The second half petered out with the result beyond all doubt. Blade sealed his hat-trick – the third player to score a Connacht hat-trick in as many weeks, while the Lions scored the final try of the game in the closing stages.
 
Next up for the squad is a well-earned one week break after the 10 game block, and then it’s back into training before the trip to Zebre on Saturday February 18th.

Hooker Eoin De Buitléar will join the Professional ranks next season, signing a two-year deal with his home province.
 
After coming through the ranks with the Connacht Academy, De Buitléar has spent the last few months integrating into the Professional setup and will now join the group full-time for pre-season training in the summer.
 
De Buitléar comes from a family steeped in rugby at his hometown of An Cheathrù Rua in the heart of Connemara. His father Cian co-founded An Ghaeltacht Rugbaí in the village while his brother Colm is a former Connacht player.
 
Eoin De Buitléar says:
“This is a very proud day for me personally and for my family and my community back home. Rugby is such a big part of our lives and I’m thrilled to now have the opportunity to play full-time for my home province. I hope I can do everyone in An Cheathrù Rua and An Ghaeltacht Rugbaí proud in the next few years.”
 
Andy Friend says:
“Eoin’s journey from his days in Carraroe to where he is now is a brilliant story, and a testament to the incredible work being done to grow the game of rugby in that part of the province. His family and coaches should be very proud of what he has achieved so far and I know he has the qualities to make a big impact on the Professional scene for the next few years.”

Coláiste Iognáid (The Jes) will be in this year’s Connacht Senior Cup semi-finals after a closely fought victory over St Muredach’s.

Shay McGovern crossed the line in the last minute of play to score his second try of the game and give the Galway school a 21-22 victory over their Ballina counterparts.

Both sides exchanged the lead in the opening half, with Jack Quinn touching down for an early try for Coláiste Iognáid, which Calum Elwood converted. Billy Ruane responded with an excellent score beneath the posts for Muredachs, which Blair Norton duly converted to bring the sides level.

However, Elwood once again pushed his side in front with a well-taken penalty, before Cian Anderson got over, scoring St Muredach’s College’s second try. Billy Ruane added the extras to put them into a 14-10 lead at half-time.

The second half was a tighter affair, with the first score coming with just 10 minutes left on the clock. Shay McGovern pushed over for The Jes, with Elwood once again slotting over the extras.

However, St Muredach’s College showed excellent spirit, with Jason Duggan scoring what many thought was the winning try. Ruane once again proved reliable from the boot for the conversion.

However, Colaiste Iognaid had plenty of grit themselves, with McGovern once again at the centre of a move to touch down and claw victory from the jaws of defeat in the dying moments.

Elwood wasn’t able to add the extras this time around, but it mattered little as The Jes guaranteed themselves a route into the last four, consigning both Garbally and St Muredach’s College to a Senior Cup exit.

In a repeat of last year’s final, they will play Sligo Grammar. The defending champions, Grammar, had a comfortable victory over Marist College in this week’s other game.

Conor Creaven, Ambrose Bamber, and Diarmaid O’Connell all touched down to help guide the reigning champions to a 10-22 win.

The Connacht management team have named the matchday 23 for tomorrow’s BKT United Rugby Championship tie with the Emirates Lions at The Sportsground (k/o 7.35pm)
 
Having missed last week’s trip to Newcastle through injury, Jack Carty returns to captain the side. The out-half could make history in the game – he needs six points to equal Eric Elwood’s all-time points scoring record of 1152 points for the province.
 
Scrum-half Caolin Blade is named alongside him while Cathal Forde and Tom Farrell are named at inside and outside-centre respectively. Tiernan O’Halloran lines out at full back for his 215th Connacht appearance with John Porch and Diarmuid Kilgallen on the wings.
 
The pack sees the Murray brothers Darragh and Niall paired together in the second row, while props Peter Dooley and Jack Aungier come in alongside hooker Shane Delahunt. Josh Murphy moves from the second row to blindside flanker, while Conor Oliver and Jarrad Butler are retained at 7 and 8.
 
Commenting on the team selection, Director of Rugby Andy Friend says:
 
“Tomorrow marks the end of a long block of games for us and one we want to finish on a high. If we get the win we head into the next block well in the running for a playoff spot – while achieving our aim of reaching the Challenge Cup knockouts – so it’s not a bad spot to be in.
 
We’re fully aware however that we need a win tomorrow to put ourselves in that position. The Lions are a formidable outfit and have improved even more since their first season last year, so we know a difficult challenge awaits us.”

 
CONNACHT RUGBY MATCHDAY 23 VS EMIRATES LIONS
Saturday 28th January, 19:35 @ The Sportsground

Number/Name/Caps
15. Tiernan O’Halloran (214)
14. Diarmuid Kilgallen (12)
13. Tom Farrell (90)
12. Cathal Forde (7)
11. John Porch (72)
10. Jack Carty (190) (C)
9. Caolin Blade (161)
1. Peter Dooley (12)
2. Shane Delahunt (124)
3. Jack Aungier (43)
4. Darragh Murray (5)
5. Niall Murray (47)
6. Josh Murphy (11)
7. Conor Oliver (54)
8. Jarrad Butler (107)

16. Dylan Tierney-Martin (15)
17. Jordan Duggan (34)
18. Dominic Robertson-McCoy (76)
19. Leva Fifita (22)
20. Shamus Hurley-Langton (12)
21. Kieran Marmion (222)
22. Tom Daly (71)
23. Oran McNulty (12)

This week it was announced that Dylan Tierney-Martin signed a new 3-year contract keeping him at The Sportsground till 2026. He was speaking ahead of Saturday’s game against the Emirates Lions about the new deal.

“I’m delighted about it” said Dylan

“I’ve been in Connacht my whole life, the last few years haven’t been easy with opportunities to show what I can do but towards the end of last season and this season I’ve been able to get minutes on the pitch to show what I can do”

“I’m really excited with what we can do over the next few years, winning a trophy with Connacht is one of my aims”

Tomorrow its back to BKT United Rugby Championship action for Connacht as they welcome the Lions who ended a bad run of result’s last weekend when they beat the Dragons. The Connacht hooker Tierney-Martin spoke about the challenge he’s expecting for the South African side.

“Every team no matter where they are provide a different challenge, Welsh teams are different, French and South African, they all bring something different”

“I suppose the one thing that South African teams bring is that they are always in the fight”

“These guys coming at the weekend have an unbelievable scrum and have some really good individuals in the front row but we also have a good scrum which that stats would back”

“We really want to get after their scrum and back ourselves in the scrum”

Related

Connacht squad to face Emirates Lions named

Connacht Academy squad confirmed for 2022/23 season
Academy

Connacht Academy squad confirmed for 2022/23 season

7 months ago
Shane Mallon : Connacht ambitions and Leitrim pride
Academy

Shane Mallon : Connacht ambitions and Leitrim pride

7 months ago
The Big Interview: Mossy Lawler
Academy

The Big Interview: Mossy Lawler

1 year ago