It is four years since Ireland have won more than two games in the tournament and, much like their senior counterparts, tonight’s result will decide who finishes third in the competition.
Scotland arrive in Dublin with the same results record as Ireland having beaten England and Italy while losing to Wales and France.
Last weekend Ireland made it tough for themselves in the first half against Italy and they trailed 13-6 at the interval due to a combination of inaccuracy, ill-discipline and a host of unforced errors. Carolan, in his second campaign as U20 coach, was pleased there was no panic from his players before they bounced back to beat the Italians. However, he warned that they cannot afford to be so generous tonight.
“When we talk about respect, one, you have to respect the opposition but two, you’ve got to respect the ball. There’s no easy games as we’re finding out, it’s just finding the balance and minimizing the errors and we’ll give ourselves a chance.
“In the first half [against Italy] we were a bit loose, a bit casual with it and maybe that’s the lesson. We tried to go wide too early when we should have punched holes.” After a knee injury scrum-half Stephen Kerrins is back in the team that retains centre Conor O’Brien, openside Will Connors and captain James Ryan – all three were influential forces against Italy. In the front row James Bollard makes his first start, as does second row Sean O’Connor of Cashel, who is just one of two Munster representatives in the starting XV.
The 4G artificial surface at Donnybrook has led to some entertaining fixtures at Schools, Womens and British & Irish Cup level, but skipper Ryan insists that he and his team-mates need to be more patient in possession.
“It is a fast track, sometimes you’re trying to play at such a tempo that lads can force errors or not get into shape quick enough. We need to improve a few things and ramp it up a bit,” Ryan said.
B Connan; H Keenan, S Daly, C O’Brien, J Stockdale; J McPhillips, S Kerins; J Bollard, A McBurney, C O’Donnell; S O’Connor, J Ryan (capt); C Gallagher, W Connors, G Jones.
H Kean, A Porter, A Coyle, P Claffey, M Deegan, J Poland, P Kiernan, M Byrne.
T Galbraith; D Graham, R Hutchison, G Taylor, B Robbins; A Hastings, H Fraser; M McCallum, J Kerr, C Sheldon; C Hunter-Hill, S Ainslie; S Burnside, M Smith, A Miller.