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5 Irish Players Ready To Make A Huge Impact On This Year's U20 Six Nations

5 Irish Players Ready To Make A Huge Impact On This Year's U20 Six Nations
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While the senior Irish team starts its quest for the Six Nations trophy, a similarly important team in Irish rugby starts its quest to win the u20s version of the championship and follow in the footsteps of the 2007, 2010, 2019, and 2022 squads.

This is the perfect chance for these young athletes to showcase their skills on a worldwide scale and to the provincial coaches who are watching intently, given Irish rugby's emphasis on producing domestic talent. Jamie Osborne, Nathan Doak, and Alex Kendellen, for example, were showcasing their abilities just two seasons ago, and now they are starting to realise the promise they displayed when wearing an Ireland u20s jersey.

Coach Richie Murphy has assembled one of the most talented teams at this level, with three players—Conor O'Tighearnaigh, James McNabney, and Diarmuid Mangan—returning from the Grand Slam winning side from last year and four others with u20s experience from last June.

But which players in the 2023 squad should we be on the lookout for?

Ruadhán Quinn -Old Crescent/Munster

In a preseason friendly in August, this Munster backrower marked his debut for the senior team with a try. Ruadhán Quinn has most definitely seized his opportunity thanks to the Graham Rowntree approach of giving kids their chance. He became Munster's youngest ever professional debutant, and he has already earned two (of many!) caps. Keep an eye out for his ball carrying in the wide channels, as he will consistently outrun opponents.

Diarmuid Mangan - UCD/Leinster

This strong backrower, who was a part of the 2022 Grand Slam winning squad, has already caught the eye of Leinster senior coaches thanks to some outstanding displays for Ireland 20s and UCD in the AIL. A graduate of Newbridge College in Kildare, watch out for his no-nonsense defence and offloading techniques.

Evan O’Connell – UL Bohemians/Munster

Growing up seeing his uncle Paul play for Munster, Ireland, and the British & Irish Lions, it is no surprise to see this 6 ft 7 in Munsterman on his journey to becoming a lineout specialist second row. He has already been included in a Munster senior matchday squad, with the Castletroy and UL Bohemian player still only u19. While his game and physical abilities are still developing, it will be fantastic for his growth to see him get some U20s game time.


12 September 2021; Richard Whelan of Leinster is tackled by Evan O’Connell of Munster during the PwC U18 Men’s Interprovincial Championship Round 2 match between Leinster and Munster at MU Barnhall in Leixlip, Kildare. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Sam Prendergast - Lansdowne/Leinster


A talented outhalf with the ability to compete at the highest level. Already a member of the Leinster Academy, his last-minute penalty kick to defeat England U20s during the summer from the halfway line demonstrated his big game temperament. His brother, who is a member of the current Six Nations squad, has already won one senior team cap (against Fiji). Don't count out the possibility of the two Prendergast brothers, like the Kearney and Wallace brothers, representing Ireland on the same day.



Henry McErlean - Terenure/Leinster

It's time to sit up and take notice when Henry McErlean's director of rugby at St. Michael's College calls him one of their most exciting alumni. Henry has played for Terenure College in the AIL, and already appeared for Leinster A after only six months out of college. He is a talented, quick, and powerful full back who will create opportunities for his team.

Other Players To Watch

Fintan Gunne – A scrum half in the mould of Craig Casey. Lightening quick pass, with the game intelligence of Dupont. Back after a few injury issues, but one who can light up a game.

Jack Oliver – Will compete with Gunne for the scrum half jersey. Greg, Jack's father, represented Scotland in the 1987 and 1991 Rugby World Cups.

Ike Anagu A big and powerful La Rochelle winger. Few people will have seen him play here, but if his club coach Ronan O'Gara is praising him, he must be a guy with a lot of potential.

Hugh Cooney – Hard to stop centre with good feet in attack and an excellent defender.

Conor O’Tighearnaigh – Played in all 5 games of last year’s epic tournament win. He improves with every game and is a key member of the team.

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