Richie Murphy has named his 32-man Ireland squad for the 2023 Under-20 Six Nations.
Murphy’s side begin their title defence on Friday 3 February against Wales in Colwyn Bay and they will welcome back three of their Grand Slam heroes from a year ago, as well as four who starred in the Six Nations Under-20 Summer Series.
Diarmuid Mangan, Conor O’Tighearnaigh and James McNabney are all looking for a second Championship, while Sam Prendergast, Charlie Irvine, Harry West and George Hadden retained their places from the summer.
Hooker Gus McCarthy has been named as captain, while the squad have been building towards the upcoming Championship with camps at the IRFU High Performance Centre, also playing matches against Munster Development, Leinster Development and Italy.
“We have been working hard for a number of weeks and it’s an exciting time for these young players, who have the honour of representing the wider group in the Six Nations,” Murphy said.
“We as coaches have pushed the players over the last number of months and I have been impressed by their work-rate, commitment and application. Now our focus turns to performance and the opening game against Wales, which we know will be a big challenge first up.
“We are looking forward to the opportunities over the coming weeks and are excited by the prospect of an Ireland U20s team returning to Six Nations action at Musgrave Park in Cork, where we always have huge support.”
During the announcement, Murphy also confirmed the coaching set up for the upcoming Championship.
Willie Faloon leads on defence and lineout, Mark Sexton Is responsible for the backs and attack and Aaron Dundon will take control of the scrum and contact areas.
Ireland open their campaign against Wales, before playing France at Musgrave Park in Round 2 in a battle between last year’s top two.
They then visit Italy and Scotland in Rounds 3 and 4 respectively before hosting England in Round 5 on Sunday 19 March in a battle between the 2021 and 2022 champions.
IRFU President John Robinson said: “The onset of a Championship is always a hugely exciting time and the Under-20s programme is a very important part of Irish Rugby, with previous squads enjoying tremendous success over the years.”
“The players have all worked incredibly hard, supported by coaches, parents, schools and clubs to attain this level and they are now about to represent their country in this very prestigious and world class tournament.
“I wish them every success in the forthcoming games and know that they will show Irish Rugby at its best.”
Ireland U20 squad:
George Morris (Lansdowne/Leinster), George Hadden (Clontarf/Leinster), Gus McCarthy (UCD/Leinster)(captain), Conall Henchy (DUFC/Munster), Danny Sheahan (UCC/Munster), Ronan Foxe (Leinster/Old Belvedere), Fiachna Barrett (Corinthians/Connacht), Paddy McCarthy (DUFC/Leinster), Conor O’Tighearnaigh (DUFC/Leinster), Charlie Irvine (Queen’s University/Ulster), Evan O’Connell (UL Bohemians/Munster), Joe Hopes (Queen’s University/Ulster), Jacob Sheahan (UCC/Munster), Diarmuid Mangan (UCD/Leinster), Ruadhán Quinn (Old Crescent/Munster), James McNabney (Ballymena/Ulster), Brian Gleeson (Garryowen/Munster)
Jack Oliver (Garryowen/Munster), Oscar Cawley (Naas/Leinster), Fintan Gunne (Terenure/Leinster), Sam Prendergast (Lansdowne/Leinster), Matthew Lynch (DUFC/Leinster), Harry West (Buccaneers/Connacht), Sam Berman (DUFC/Leinster), Hugh Gavin (Galwegians/Connacht), Hugh Cooney (Clontarf/Leinster), John Devine (Corinthians/Connacht), Ike Anagu (La Rochelle/IQ Rugby), James Nicholson (UCD/Leinster), Rory Telfer (Queen’s University/Ulster), Henry McErlean (Terenure/Leinster), Noah Sheridan (Clontarf/Leinster)Ireland U20 Fixtures:
Friday, 3 February: Wales v Ireland, Colwyn Bay, 7pm
Friday, 10 February: Ireland v France, Musgrave Park, 8pm
Friday, 24 February: Italy v Ireland, Stadio Comunale di Monigo, 7.15pm
Friday, 10 March: Scotland v Ireland, Scotstoun Stadium, 7pm
Sunday, 19 March: Ireland v England, Musgrave Park, 5pm