The teams have been announced for the first official Inter-provincial of the season with Ulster and Leinster Academies going head to head tomorrow (Friday) afternoon at Shaws Bridge, kick off 5:30 pm. 

The fixture replaces the Under 20’s inter-pros as part of an IRFU attempt to bridge the gap between age grade and pro rugby by spending as little money as possible. Unfortunately it’s seen most of the provincial U20’s panels suffering this season with even a few of the most successful ever Ireland U20’s panel being forced to further their careers outside of Ireland so maybe just more academy games could have been arranged and the U20’s left alone! Ah well, such is progress? 

Anyway, as it stands Leinster, who once again seem able to buck the IRFU edicts, are fielding a largely U20 side while Ulster field a mix of U20’s and Academy players. In theory the extra experience and enhanced physiques should tip the game firmly in Ulster’s favour but, to counter that, the Leinster U20’s have been a fairly tight unit over the summer compared to the Ulster players who have been in and out of various squads over the last couple of weeks. We may finally get the answer to that age old conundrum of preparation versus experience! 

As for the “History Boys” from the summer, the Ulster team features Johnny McPhillips. who starts at out half, and Adam McBurney, who starts from the bench. Leinster’s Irish starlets include Jimmy O’Brien. Conor O’Brien and Vakh Abdaladze but disappointingly no Hugo Keenan, Max Deegan or James Ryan who were some of my personal favourites from the U20 Championship in Manchester (after the Ulster lads of course). 

The FRU Predicts: Well it’s early in the season so we’ll go for an Ulster win of course though I suspect it will be a tight game. Looking forward to it  😯 . 

Ulster Academy v Leinster Academy
Conor Kelly 15 Jack Kelly
Conor Field 14 Jordan Larmour
David Busby 13 Gavin Mullin
Tom Stapeley 12 Jimmy O’Brien
Aaron Cairns 11 Jack Power
Johnny McPhillips 10 Conor Dean
Angus Lloyd 9 Charlie Rock
Michael Lagan 1 Greg McGrath
Zac McCall 2 Tadgh McElroy
Craig Trenier 3 Óisín Heffernan
Alex Thompson 4 Caelan Dorris
John Donnan 5 Josh Murphy
Nick Timoney 6 Will Connors
Lorcan Dow 7 Barry Fitzpatrick
Marcus Rea 8 Paul Boyle
Adam McBurney 16 Sean McNulty
Tommy O’Hagan 17 Martin Mulhall
Peter Cooper 18 Vakh Abdaladze
Alistair Burke 19 Conor Hand
Connor Smyth 20 Ruairí O’Farrell
Jonny Stewart 21 Ciarán Frawley
Andy McGrath 22 Conor O’Brien
Callum Smith 23 Tim Carroll