Ireland 20's head coach Noel McNamara
SEVEN Munster stars have been named in Noel McNamara's Ireland U20 squad for the 2018 U20 Six Nations Championship.
The seven Munster players are split into four forwards and three backs, with all three backs playing their club rugby with Limerick sides. Garryowen's David McCarthy is joined by Young Munster's Conor Hayes and UL Bohemian full back James McCarthy.
In the forwards, Garryowen hooker Diarmuid Barron is named in the panel alongside Shannon's Ronan Coffey.
The 32-man squad features 11 players who were capped across last season's U20 Six Nations and World Rugby U20 World Championships.
In the forwards, prop Jordan Duggan, hookers Ronan Kelleher and Diarmuid Barron, along with back-row Sean Masterson all featured last season, as did backs; scrum-half Jonny Stewart, out-half Conor Dean, centres Angus Curtis, David McCarthy and Tommy O'Brien along with back three players Mark Keane and Michael Silvester.
Tommy O'Brien will captain the side.
On selection of the squad, McNamara said: "It's an exciting time for the players and the coaching team.
There have been some tight calls across the board and it's great to see that competition for places. Also, with 11 players who were involved last season, there is some good experience across the squad.
The players have all been working hard over the past number of months and we're confident in the ability of the squad that we have selected.
Speaking in advance of the 2017 Under-20 Six Nations, Feargal O'Rourke, Managing Partner, PwC, said
"As longstanding sponsors of Irish rugby, we have built an established and mutually beneficial relationship with the IRFU.
With that in mind, we are excited to kick off this year's Six Nations Championship as we head into our thirteenth year as sponsors of the Irish U20s squad. We are enormously proud to be associated with such a talented and hardworking team and we look forward to supporting them and their coaching staff through the 2018 campaign.
At PwC we take pride in our relentless focus on developing talent and being the 'best that we can be' to ensure the greatest results for our people, our clients and our business partners. We know that Irish Rugby shares the same approach. The acceleration of talent from this grade to the full senior squad has become more pronounced in recent seasons and we look forward to many of the 2018 team making the same jump in the future.
We wish the team the very best of luck. #Futureisgreen"
The Ireland U20s will open their Six Nations campaign against France U20s next Friday night at the Stade Amédée Domenech in Brive.
Ireland will play their home games against Italy, Wales and Scotland on Friday nights in Donnybrook Stadium, with the series of home games again being sponsored by Electric Ireland.
Their campaign will conclude with a trip to the Ricoh Arena in Coventry to face England on the 16th March, in a double header with the Ireland and England Women's teams.
Tickets for the Ireland U20s games in Donnybrook are available from www.ticketmaster.ie
IRELAND U20 Squad, sponsored by PwC, for the U20 Six Nations Championship 2018
Jack Aungier (St. Mary's /Leinster)
Matthew Agnew (Ballymenia/Ulster)
Diarmuid Barron (Garryowen /Munster)
Joe Byrne (Dublin University /Leinster)
Ronan Coffey (Shannon /Munster)
Matthew Dalton (Malone /Ulster)
Cormac Daly (Clontarf /Leinster)
Jordan Duggan (Naas /Leinster)
Jack Dunne (Dublin University /Leinster)
Joe Dunleavy (Malone /Ulster)
James French (UCC /Munster)
Aaron Hall (Ballynahinch /Ulster)
Max Kearney (Dublin University /Leinster)
Ronan Kelleher (Lansdowne /Leinster)
Sean Masterson (Corinthians /Connacht)
Jack O'Sullivan (UCC /Munster)
Tom O'Toole (Banbridge /Ulster)
Charlie Ryan (UCD /Leinster)
Harry Byrne (UCD /Leinster)
Angus Curtis (Queen's University /Ulster)
Conor Dean (St. Mary's /Leinster)
Conor Hayes (Young Munster /Munster)
Mark Keane (Queen's University)
Angus Kernohan (Ballymena /Ulster)
David McCarthy (Garryowen /Munster)
James McCarthy (UL Bohemian /Munster)
Sean O'Brien (Clontarf /Leinster)
Tommy O'Brien (UCD /Leinster) Captain
Hugh O'Sullivan (Clontarf /Leinster)
Jonny Stewart (Queen's University /Ulster)
Michael Silvester (Dublin University /Leinster)
Peter Sullivan (Lansdowne /Leinster)
IRELAND U20 Six Nations Fixtures 2018
Friday 2rd February 2018
France U20 v Ireland U20, 9pm (local)/8pm (Irish time), Stade Amédée Domenech, Brive
Friday 9th February 2018
Ireland U20 v Italy U20, 7.15pm, Donnybrook Stadium, Dublin
Friday 23rd February 2018
Ireland U20 v Wales U20, 7.15pm, Donnybrook Stadium, Dublin
Saturday 9th March 2018
Ireland U20 v Scotland U20, 7.15pm, Donnybrook Stadium, Dublin
Friday 16th March 2018
England U20 v Ireland U20, 8pm, Ricoh Arena, Coventry