Noel McNamara has named a 37-man Ireland Under-20 squad for the upcoming Six Nations Championship, with seven players from last year's Grand Slam-winning panel included for the 2020 season.
Ulster Academy back row David McCann, who last season helped head coach McNamara’s side to a memorable clean sweep of Six Nations victories, has been appointed captain ahead of the opening fixture against Scotland at Irish Independent Park on Friday, 31 January. That match will be live on RTÉ2.
McCann, who has previously captained Ireland Under-19s, is joined in the squad by Munster Academy second row Thomas Ahern and the Leinster contingent of Thomas Clarkson, Brian Deeny, John McKee, Charlie Ward and Max O’Reilly, who are all involved at this age-grade for a second season.
Leinster Academy tighthead Clarkson started all five of last year’s games in the competition and will add valuable experience to the pack as one of 20 players from the eastern province included in Ireland’s final panel.
Cork Constitution’s Jack Crowley is one of five Munster players in McNamara’s final panel alongside Ahern, Academy second row Eoin O’Connor, Cian Hurley of Garryowen and UCC centre Harry O’Riordan.
Ulster hooker Tom Stewart was another standout performer in the game against Munster Development last month and leads a seven-player Ulster contingent, including Academy centre Hayden Hyde and winger Ethan McIlroy.
McIlroy has already made his senior debut for Ulster having come off the bench during the northern province’s Pro 14 defeat to Leinster at the RDS last month, while powerful number eight Joshua Dunne leads the Connacht contingent of four.
"It’s always a very exciting time for these young players when the Six Nations comes around," McNamara said.
"We have been working through the selection process since last year, which has culminated in today’s 37-man squad announcement.
"It was a tough selection and there are a number of players who are unlucky to miss out. It’s important to note at this stage that selection will be ongoing and players from outside this group will have further opportunities to impress throughout the season."
- Charlie Ward (Tullow RFC / Clontarf FC / Leinster)
- Marcus Hannan (Clane RFC / Old Belvedere RFC / Leinster)
- Harry Noonan (Greystones RFC / Old Wesley RFC / Leinster)
- Tom Stewart (Belfast Royal Academy / Ballynahinch RFC / Ulster)
- John McKee (Campbell College / Old Belvedere / Leinster)
- Bobby Sheehan (Clongowes Wood College / UCD RFC / Leinster)
- Thomas Clarkson (Blackrock College / Dublin University FC / Leinster)
- Ryan McMahon (Clongowes Wood College / Old Belvedere RFC / Leinster)
- Brian Deeny (Wexford Wanderers / Clontarf FC / Leinster)
- Eoin O'Connor (Waterpark RFC / Young Munster RFC / Munster)
- Thomas Ahern (Waterpark RFC / Shannon RFC / Munster)
- Joe McCarthy (Blackrock College / Dublin University FC / Leinster)
- Alex Soroka (Blackrock College / Dublin University FC / Leinster)
- Cian Prendergast (Newbridge College / UCD RFC / Leinster)
- Cian Hurley (CBC Cork / Garryowen FC / Munster)
- Sean O'Brien (Blackrock College / UCD RFC / Leinster)
- Mark Hernan (St Michael's College / Lansdowne FC / Leinster)
- Anthony Ryan (Clongowes Wood College / Dublin University FC / Leinster)
- David McCann (RBAI / Banbridge RFC / Ulster)
- Joshua Dunne (Denstone College / Galwegians RFC / Connacht).
- Lewis Finlay (Down High School / Malone RFC / Ulster)
- Ben Murphy (Presentation College Bray / Clontarf FC / Leinster)
- Conor McKee (Sullivan Upper School / Queens RFC / Ulster)
- Jack Crowley (Bandon RFC / Cork Constitution FC / Munster)
- Cathal Forde (Coláiste Iognáid / Corinthians RFC / Connacht)
- Tim Corkery (Kilkenny RFC / Lansdowne FC / Leinster)
- Andrew Smith (St Michael’s College / Clontarf FC / Leinster)
- Niall Comerford (Blackrock College / UCD RFC / Leinster)
- Ethan McIlroy (Methody College / Queens RFC / Ulster)
- Diarmuid Kilgallen (Cistercian College Roscrea / Galwegians RFC / Connacht)
- Hayden Hyde (Cranleigh School / Ballynahinch RFC / Ulster)
- Ben Moxham (Ballymena RFC / Ballymena RFC / Ulster)
- Harry O'Riordan (CBC Cork / UCC RFC / Munster)
- Luis Faria (Newpark Comprehensive / Dublin University FC / Leinster)
- Dan Kelly (Kirkham Grammar / Loughborogh University / IQ Rugby)
- Oran McNulty (Millfield School / Corinthians RFC / Connacht)
- Max O'Reilly (St Gerard’s / Dublin University FC / Leinster).