The Ireland U20’s side for their Six Nations match against Italy at Donnybrook on Friday evening was announced yesterday.
Rather disappointingly three Ulster lads have been withdrawn from the squad with Jonny Stewart and Matthew Dalton called into the Ulster PRO14 squad and Aaron Hall missing out due to injury.
The good news is that Ballymena’s Matthew Agnew takes one of the spots, vacated by Dalton and Hall, in the back row and Queen’s University’s Angus Curtis moves from the bench to start in the centre, though I’d much rather see him at out half.
Banbridge’s Tom O’Toole and Ballymena’s Angus Kernohan retain their spots on the bench. However the overall effect is that Ulster’s representation in the squad has dropped from six to four.
It only seems like yesterday that I said, “it was a promising second half performance [from Ireland] but I find it hard to dismiss the poor first half.” about their opener against France and this side will have to front up early against an Italian side that pushed defending champions England all the way in first outing last Friday.
Apart from one glorious move down the left last Friday, Ireland’s back play was fairly predictable and I like to see the youngsters at this level given the freedom to play with their heads up. They have a good back three who were underutilised, albeit against a powerful French side, but I hope they get more of a chance to show their abilities in this game.
Hopefully Curtis will bring a bit of flair in midfield and hopefully he’ll be allowed to for as I said, in our Round 1 Wrap, this competition should really be about preparing for the World Championships.
The match kicks of at Donnybrook Stadium at 19:15 on Friday 9th February.
Ireland U20: Michael Silvester, Peter Sullivan, Tommy O’Brien, Angus Curtis, James McCarthy, Harry Byrne, Hugh O’Sullivan, Jordan Duggan, Ronan Kelleher, Jack Aungier, Cormac Daly, Jack Dunne, Sean Masterson, Matthew Agnew, Jack O’Sullivan. Replacements: Eoghan Clarke, James French, Tom O’Toole, Charlie Ryan, Ronan Foley, Paddy Patterson, Conor Dean, Angus Kernohan.
Unavailable for selection: Matthew Dalton – Ulster PRO14 squad, Aaron Hall – injured, Jonny Stewart – Ulster PRO14 squad.