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Carolan takes U-20s reins after Ruddock stands down

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Mike Ruddock has decided to step down, after four years in charge of the Ireland U-20s, in order to focus on his commitments with Lansdowne. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

Mike Ruddock has decided to step down, after four years in charge of the Ireland U-20s, in order to focus on his commitments with Lansdowne. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

Mike Ruddock has decided to step down, after four years in charge of the Ireland U-20s, in order to focus on his commitments with Lansdowne. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

Connacht Academy manager Nigel Carolan has replaced Mike Ruddock as head coach of Ireland U-20s.

Ruddock who led Ireland to their best finish at a Junior World Cup (fourth) spent four years in charge of the underage side but has decided to step down from his position in order to focus on his commitments with Lansdowne.

"I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to work with the Ireland U-20 team and it has been very rewarding," Ruddock said.

"It has been difficult trying to juggle the ever increasing demands of the age grade programme whilst coaching Lansdowne FC in the Ulster Bank League and now it's time to concentrate on trying to add another UBL title to the one we won in 2013."

His replacement, Carolan, was an assistant coach with Ireland U20s from 2008 to 2010. He has been the western province's academy manager since 2004 and has won been widely credited with Connacht's steady improvements in recent seasons.

"It is an exciting opportunity to be working with the top under 20 talent from the four provinces," Carolan commented.

Carolan will remain in his role with Connacht and preparations will soon get underway for the U-20s Six Nations, which kicks off in February.

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