| 9.9°C Belfast

Ireland's young guns raring to go for Scots clash: McNamara

Under-20 Six Nations


Pleased: Noel McNamara says his side have had an excellent camp

Pleased: Noel McNamara says his side have had an excellent camp

�INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Pleased: Noel McNamara says his side have had an excellent camp

Ireland open their defence of the Under-20 Six Nations title this evening against Scotland in Cork's Irish Independent Park with five Ulster-based players in their match squad (7.15pm).

The side is led by up and coming Ulster Academy back-rower David McCann, who was part of last year's Grand Slam-winning side, and the Banbridge club player happens to also be one of five in the starting side who were part of the team that swept all before them in the previous campaign.

The other Ulster-based players taking to the field this evening are Ethan McIlroy, the Queen's player having been selected on the wing, centre Hayden Hyde, scrum-half Lewis Finlay and hooker Tom Stewart.

Hyde and Stewart are both part of the Academy and play their club rugby at Ballynahinch, while Finlay is with Malone.

Former Campbell College pupil John McKee, who now plays in Dublin with Old Belvedere and is a veteran of last season, makes the bench and covers Stewart at hooker.

Leinster supply six players to the starting team, with Charlie Ward and Thomas Clarkson packing down either side of Stewart in the front row and, in the back row, Sean O'Brien and Mark Hernan are the two flankers.

Munster provide two players to coach Noel McNamara's 15, Connacht one, and centre Dan Kelly is at Loughborough University and has come through the IQ programme in the UK.

There is no place in this evening's 23-man squad for Ulster's other two panel members, Queen's University scrum-half Conor McKee and Ballymena centre Ben Moxham. Ireland will be expected to kick-off their Six Nations with a home win against a Scotland side hoping for much more this season after finishing bottom of last season's table and a point behind Italy.

"The players have prepared very well since we first came together before Christmas," coach McNamara said ahead of tonight's game.

"We had an excellent camp last week in Cork.

"We are looking forward to the challenge that Scotland will bring.

"Getting back down to Irish Independent Park is exciting for all involved.

"It's a fantastic venue, a really fast surface.

"We're ready to get the campaign under way in front of a partisan home crowd," the coach added.

Ireland Under-20s: O McNulty, E McIlroy, D Kelly, H Hyde, A Smith, J Crowley, L Finlay; C Ward, T Stewart, T Clarkson, B Deeny, T Ahern, S O'Brien, M Hernan, D McCann (capt.).

Replacements: J McKee, C Ryan, R McMahon, J McCarthy, A Soroka, B Murphy, T Corkery, L Faria.

Belfast Telegraph