Coach Peter Melia has again made sweeping changes in reaction to his side’s 25-11 defeat to Scotland at Musgrave Park on Saturday, with nine new faces coming into the side.
PBC’s Gavin Nugent, who scored Ireland’s only try against Scotland, replaces Noel Reid at full-back, while Craig O’Hanlon, James
McKinnet and Jason Bloomfield also start. Luke Marshall moves from out-half to centre, while up front, Risteard Byrne, Martin Moore and Brian Hayes all come into the forwards.
New captain David O’Callaghan moves from No. 8 to the second row, while Dominic Ryan retains his place on the blind side and is joined in the back row by Paul Pritchard and Richard Bent.
Ireland manager Lorcan Balfe said his side would go back to basics as they look to atone for the Scotland defeat.
“We were disappointed with our performance against Scotland as we didn’t do ourselves justice and certainly did not reach the level of play that the squad can achieve,” he said.
“The target for the Italy game is to concentrate on getting these basics right and to control the game a lot better. Italy are a decent side, they posed Wales plenty of problems in their last game so they will not be underestimated.
“The team (Ireland) certainly want to end the festival on a high note with a win to give the local support something to cheer about.”
The Italians are also looking to end the tournament on a high note after suffering heavy defeats to England and Wales, and manager Francesco Cavatorti said his team were looking forward to the challenge.
“We want to go home with at least one win under our belts,” he said. “We expect a tough game from Ireland because they want to win a game as well but we hope to be better than we were against Wales. The players are working hard at training sessions and we want to win so it will be good to get the match underway.”
IRELAND U-18: G Nugent (PBC, Cork); D McCarthy (Castletroy CC), M Allen (Methodist, Belfast), L Marshall (Ballymena Academy), C O’Hanlon (St Munchin’s); J McKinney (Campbell College) J Bloomfield (Coleraine AI); B Cagney (PBC, Cork), R Byrne (Terenure College), M Moore (Castleknock College); B Hayes (CBC, Cork), D O’Callaghan (Midleton College, capt); D Ryan (Gonzaga College), P Pritchard (Ballymena Academy), R Bent (St Mary’s College).
Replacements: N Annett (Methodist, Belfast), D Buckley (Blackrock College), J O’Connell (Clongowes Wood College), B Marshall (St Andrew’s College), M Atkinson (Grosvenor GS), P Butler (Rockwell College), D McSharry (Templeogue College), B O’Hara (PBC, Cork) N Reid (St Michael’s College) M Kelliher (St Munchin’s College).
ITALY U-18: M Paglia; F Lenzi, C Ricciardi, T Benvenuti, N Belardo; F Michelini, A Chillon; M Zamparo, A Manici, E Carugi; F Cazzola, P Stinchello; F Ferrarini, G Cicchinelli, L Santelli.
Replacements: E Lioineri, N Corbanese, A Denti, D Fratalochhi, M Barbino, T Bergonzini, E Gori, G Frapporti, G Venditti.