U-20s out to stop Grand Slam, too
Along with tomorrow’s top of the bill clash at Lansdowne Road, Ireland U-20s stand between England and their expected capture of a Grand Slam when the side’s meet tonight at Dubarry Park (kick-off 7.45).
Unbeaten England arrive in Athlone after smashing Scotland 56-8 last weekend, so Ireland coach Mike Ruddock certainly knows this is a huge challenge for his squad, who have already been heavily defeated by France and then agonisingly drew 26-26 last time out when Paddy Jackson’s injury-time conversion hit an upright and stay out.
Ruddock has made four changes, all affecting Ulster personnel, to the side that just missed out on beating Wales with trio Jackson, Luke Marshall and Craig Gilroy all returning to provincial colours for tonight’s Magners League clash with the Dragons while skipper Niall Annett sits out Ireland's last game through injury.
Tiernan O’Halloran comes in for winger Gilroy while JJ Hanrahan and Cathal Marsh start instead of Marshall and Jackson respectively.
Annett is replaced at hooker by David Doyle while the side will be led by Jordi Murphy.
Ballymena scrum-half Blane McIlroy is the only Ulster player now in the squad.
Elsewhere, the Ireland Club side takes on England Counties at Anglesea Road tonight (kick-off 5.30) hoping to follow up on last weekend’s win in Scotland.