Clarke hopes his eye for detail enough to slay Welsh
Published 12/03/2010 | 05:00
IRELAND'S U-20 side can take a massive step towards snatching the Six Nations Championship should they manage a win over Wales in Dubarry Park, Athlone, tonight (kick-off 7.35).
Thanks to their superb 25-10 win over England last week, Allen Clarke's side currently top the table on points difference ahead of both England and Wales, with France and Scotland lying just a further point back.
Ireland have lost just once at the splendidly appointed midlands venue in five seasons there and with a home tie against the Scots to come in a week's time, they are in an excellent position to secure the crown.
However, Clarke is taking nothing for granted and insists his side cannot afford to look past the Welsh hurdle.
"Planning and preparation has gone well," Clarke said. "There is an appetite within the squad to continually develop as individuals and as a team.
"The attention to detail and focus to improve reflect the respect we have for Wales and the squad's ambition to build on our performances in the championship."
Andrew Conway caught the eye with a dazzling brace of tries against England, but Wales can call on the talent of Ospreys winger Kristian Phillips, who ran in three tries as the Welsh romped past France on a 43-8 scoreline at Cardiff Arms Park last time out.
Clarke has his full squad to pick from for the first time in the tournament and gives Connacht starlet Tiernan O'Halloran his first start of the season.
Jack O'Connell moves from tighthead to loosehead, with Stewart Maguire moving up from the replacements for his first start, while Leinster's Risteard Byrne and Munster pair Bryan Cagney and Gareth Quinn McDonogh come into the match-day squad for the first time.
Ireland U-20 -- A Conway (Leinster); D Hudson (Leinster), B Macken (Leinster), N Spence (Ulster), T O'Halloran (Connacht); J McKinney (Ulster), J Cooney (Leinster); J O'Connell (Leinster), N Annett (Ulster), S Maguire (Leinster), D O'Callaghan (Munster), B Marshall (Leinster), R Ruddock (Leinster) (capt), D Ryan (Leinster), P Butler (Munster). Replacements: R Byrne (Leinster), B Cagney (Munster), B Hayes (Munster), R O'Sullivan (Leinster), M Heaney (Ulster), G Quinn McDonogh (Munster), E Griffin (Connacht).
Wales U-20 -- D Fish (Blues); J Loxton (Blues), B John (Ospreys), S Williams (Scarlets), K Phillips (Ospreys); M Jarvis (Ospreys), G Davies (Scarlets); D Watchurst (Dragons), R Williams (Blues), S Gardiner (Scarlets), M Cook (Blues), L Peers (Ospreys), M Allen (Pontypool), J Navidi (Blues), T Faletau (Dragons). Replacements: I Davies (Glamorgan Wanderers), T Davies (Scarlets), J Thomas (Dragons), R Jenkins (Dragons), E Siggery (Llandovery), R Downes (Blues), D Gunter (Blues).
Ireland U-20 v Wales U-20
Live, RTE2, 7.35