Carolan has name five newcomers — Vakh Abdaladze (a recent Ulster Bank League winner with Clontarf) and David Aspil, as well as the Munster trio of Vincent O’Brien, Evan Mintern, and Bill Johnston — in the 28-man squad, who will face Pool A games against Wales, New Zealand, and Georgia in the Manchester City Academy Stadium.
Carolan has been suitably impressed by their performances in recent preparation games, and is pleased that he can call on the services of Johnston — who missed the Six Nations through injury.
“Vakh Abdaladze is performing very well with Clontarf all year. They’ve been the club champions in Division 1A this year, so he’s bringing a bit of experience from that. David Aspil has been performing really well with St Mary’s and he’s had some exposure with Leinster ‘A’. Bill has had a bit of exposure with Munster and I think he brings that little bit of a football head and that experience.”
Following a sluggish start to their spring campaign, Ireland finished their championship with three wins in succession, and Carolan hopes to carry that momentum into the opening game against Wales on June 7.
“We finished the Six Nations on a high. I think we grew as a team and hopefully we can take that momentum into that first game. We’ve very much targeted Wales as the big game, because if we can get across the line on that one, you have the world champions (New Zealand) in the second game.”
But he admits that lessons must be learned from their spring: “While we played an ambitious type of game, I think mistakes proved to be very costly. Anytime we made mistakes, the consequences were high. We have to figure out the risk versus reward and how we can minimise the risk, but still enable to play a high-tempo game.”
Andrew Porter (UCD/Leinster), James Bollard (DUFC/Leinster), Vakh Abdaladze (Clontarf/Leinster), Adam McBurney (Ballymena/Ulster), Vincent O’Brien (Cork Con/Munster), Conor Kenny (Buccaneers/Connacht), Benn Betts (Young Munster/Munster), Cillian Gallagher (Sligo/Connacht), James Ryan (Lansdowne/Leinster) (Capt), Sean O’Connor (Cashel/Munster), Evan Mintern (Cork Con/Munster), Greg Jones (UCD/Leinster), Will Connors (UCD/Leinster), Max Deegan (Lansdowne/Leinster), Kelvin Brown (Shannon/Munster), David Aspil (UCD/Leinster).
Stephen Kerins (Sligo/Connacht), Niall Saunders (Epsom College), Bill Johnston (Garryowen/Munster), Johnny McPhillips (QUB/Ulster), Conor O’Brien (Clontarf/Leinster), Shane Daly (Cork Con/Munster), Jimmy O’Brien (UCD/Leinster), Paul Kiernan (UCC/Munster), Jacob Stockdale (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Terry Kennedy (St. Mary’s/Leinster), Hugo Keenan (UCD/Leinster), Matthew Byrne (Terenure/Leinster).