Dean and Barron handed Ireland U20 debuts for World Cup opener with Italy
St. Mary's fly-half Conor Dean and Garryowen hooker Diarmuid Barron will both make their Ireland U20 debuts on Wednesday when Peter Malone's side take on Italy in the opening Pool B match at the World Rugby U-20 Championship in Kutaisi, Georgia.
Barron was a late addition for Saracens-bound hooker Tadhg McElroy, who was excluded from the World Cup squad due to his hesitancy to commit his long term future to Irish Rugby, while Dean, the son of former Ireland and Lions out-half Paul Dean, will start at out-half alongside Ulster scrum-half Jonny Stewart.
Barron will pack down in the front-row alongside Munster's Joey Conway and Leinster's Charlie Connolly, while in the second-row Fineen Wycherley and Oisin Dowling will reprise their partnership from Ireland's U20 Six Nations finale with England in March.
Meanwhile in the backrow Ulster's Marcus Rea and Munster's Gavin Coombes will join newly appointed captain Paul Boyle at the back of the scrum, with incumbents John Foley and Caelan Doris both unavailable through injury.
In the backs, Leinster duo Gavin Mullin and Ciaran Frawley will line up alongside each other in the centres, with Leinster teammate Jack Kelly set to start at fullback, while Munster's Colm Hogan and Calvin Nash round out the back three on the wings.
Ireland will play Italy at Kutaisi Stadium on Wednesday before taking on Scotland on Sunday and then tournament favourites New Zealand next Thursday.
Malone, who takes over from former Head Coach Nigel Carolan, who guided Ireland to a historic win over the Baby Blacks ast summer, said his team are determined to make a strong start in the Pool stages and that they will be aided by having already played Italy in this year's U20 Six Nations, a game Ireland which Ireland won 27-26 in Prato back in February.
"The U-20 World Championship is always an exciting competition and we are looking forward to the challenge ahead of us," Malone told Irish Rugby.
"We're looking forward to the game against Italy and starting the tournament. Having played them a few months ago in the Six Nations, we know they are not a team to be underestimated, but the team are excited, focused and determined to make a good start."
IRELAND UNDER-20 Team & Replacements (v Italy Under-20s, 2017 World Rugby U-20 Championship Pool B, Kutaisi Stadium, Kutaisi, Georgia, Wednesday, May 31, kick-off 3.30pm local time/12.30pm Irish time):
15. Jack Kelly (Dublin University/Leinster)
14. Colm Hogan (Dublin University/Munster)
13. Gavin Mullin (UCD/Leinster)
12. Ciaran Frawley (UCD/Leinster)
11. Calvin Nash (Young Munster/Munster)
10. Conor Dean (St. Mary's College/Leinster) *
9. Jonny Stewart (Queen's University/Ulster)
1. Joey Conway (UL Bohemians/Munster)
2. Diarmuid Barron (Garryowen/Munster) *
3. Charlie Connolly (Dublin University/Leinster)
4. Fineen Wycherley (Young Munster/Munster)
5. Oisin Dowling (Lansdowne/Leinster)
6. Marcus Rea (Queen's University/Ulster)
7. Paul Boyle (Lansdowne/Leinster) (capt)
8. Gavin Coombes (Young Munster/Munster)
16. Ronan Kelleher (UCD/Leinster)
17. Greg McGrath (Lansdowne/Leinster)
18. Peter Cooper (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster)
19. Jack Regan (UCD/Leinster)
20. Sean Masterson (Corinthians/Connacht)
21. Jack Stafford (Shannon/Munster)
22. Angus Curtis (Queen's University/Ulster) *
23. Alan Tynan (Young Munster/Munster) *
* Denotes uncapped player at U-20 level