McDermott bloods six young guns

THE Ireland U21 team to play hosts France on the opening day of the 2006 IRB U21 World Championship shows six changes to the side that lost 40-5 to England U21 in March in the final game of the U21 6 Nations tournament.

Coach Mark McDermott has selected Belfast Harlequins hooker Stuart Philpott to captain the team, while Shannon hooker Sean Cronin has been rewarded for his recent excellent AIB League form with a place on the bench, while Leinster Academy player Devin Toner, who stands at 6ft 10in, starts in the second row.

The changes in the backline see Cork Constitution’s Tom Gleeson start ahead of Darren Cave at outside-centre, Kieran Hallett of the Bedford Blues comes in at out-half, with Garryowen’s Conan Doyle switching to inside-centre, while Fergus McFadden loses his place. Ballynahinch’s Paul Marshall also returns at scrum-half with Duncan Williams losing out.

In the pack, there are two changes in the front row and one at openside flanker. Darragh Hurley of UCC and Highfield’s David Ryan are in at loosehead and tighthead prop respectively, while the highly-rated David Pollock of Queen’s University, who captained Ireland at April’s IRB U19 World Championship in Dubai, takes Ejike Uzoigwe’s place at number 7.

The sides already met in this year’s U21 6 Nations in February with France running out 29-10 winners in Strasbourg.

The game is live on Setanta Sports Ireland on Friday, while IrishRugby.ie will also be running a live match tracker throughout the 80 minutes.

IRELAND UNDER-21: F Carr (Blackrock); P Durcan (Galwegians), T Gleeson (Cork Con), C Doyle (Garryowen), M Williams (Bristol); K Hallett (Bedford Blues), P Marshall (Ballynahinch); D Hurley (UCC), S Philpott (Belfast Harlequins, captain), D Ryan (Highfield); D McGowan (Buccaneers), D Toner (Lansdowne); R Noonan (UCC), D Pollock (Queens University), S O’Brien (UCD). Replacements: S Cronin (Shannon), P Doran Jones (Dublin Univ.), D Tuohy (Hartpury College/Gloucester), D Laffan (Blackrock), D Williams (UCC), D Cave (Belfast Harlequins), I Hanly (UL Bohemians).

IRB Under-21 World Championship: Ireland Fixtures: Friday, June 9 — France U-21 v Ireland U-21, Issoire, kick-off 7 pm French time (6 pm Irish time) live on Setanta from 6 pm; highlights 10.30 pm).

Tuesday, June 13 — Ireland U-21 v Argentina U-21, Cournon d’Auvergne, kick-off 5 pm (4 pm).

Saturday, June 17 — Ireland U-21 v Georgia U-21, Issoire, 4 pm (3 pm).

Wednesday, June 21 — Matchday 4 — tbc.

Sunday, June 25 — Matchday 5 — tbc.



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