Head Coach Noel McNamara has today named a 37-man Ireland Under-20 squad for the upcoming Six Nations Championship, with seven players from last year’s Grand Slam-winning panel included for the 2020 season.

Ulster Academy back-row David McCann, who last season helped McNamara’s side to a memorable clean sweep of Six Nations victories, has been appointed captain ahead of the opening fixture against Scotland at Irish Independent Park on Friday, 31 January (kick-off 7.15pm, live on RTÉ2).

McCann, who has previously captained Ireland Under-19s, is joined in the squad by the Leinster contingent of Thomas Clarkson, Brian Deeny, John McKee, Charlie Ward and Max O’Reilly, and Munster Academy second-row Thomas Ahern, who are all involved at this age-grade for a second season.

Leinster Academy tighthead Clarkson started all five of last year’s games in the Championship and will add valuable experience to the pack as one of 20 players from the eastern province included in Ireland’s final panel.

McNamara and his assistant coaches, Kieran Campbell and Colm Tucker are excited about the strength in depth and overall dynamic of this year’s group having had to make a number of difficult selection decisions.

“It’s always a very exciting time for these young players when the Six Nations comes around,” McNamara said. “We have been working through the selection process since last year, which has culminated in today’s 37-man squad announcement.

“It was a tough selection and there are a number of players who are unlucky to miss out. It’s important to note at this stage that selection will be ongoing and players from outside this group will have further opportunities to impress throughout the season.”

Having enjoyed huge success in front of sold-out crowds at Irish Independent Park last year, the Cork venue will again play host to the Ireland Under-20 home games, and the visit of Scotland on the opening night is followed by a clash against Wales on Friday, 7 February (kick-off 7.15pm)

After a down week, McNamara’s side are on the road to face England at Franklin’s Gardens on Friday, 21 February (kick-off 7.45pm) and then it’s back to Irish Independent Park in round four for a meeting with Italy on Friday, 6 March (kick-off 7.15pm).

Ireland will conclude their campaign against France at the Stade Aime Giral in Perpignan on Friday, 13 March (kick-off 8pm).

On returning to Irish Independent Park, McNamara continued: “Everyone is hugely enthusiastic about getting back down to our home in Irish Independent Park in Cork. We we will have three tough games there this year against Scotland, Wales and Italy under lights on Friday nights. I have absolutely no doubt about the raucous reception that awaits our team and our opponents.”

Tickets for the Ireland Under-20 home fixtures in Irish Independent Park are available from ticketmaster.ie.

Ireland Under-20 Six Nations Squad

Forwards (20):

Thomas Ahern (Waterpark RFC / Shannon RFC / Munster)
Thomas Clarkson (Blackrock College / Dublin University FC / Leinster)
Brian Deeny (Wexford Wanderers / Clontarf FC / Leinster)
Joshua Dunne (Denstone College / Galwegians RFC / Connacht)
Marcus Hannan (Clane RFC / Old Belvedere RFC / Leinster)
Mark Hernan (St Michael’s College / Lansdowne FC / Leinster)
Cian Hurley (CBC Cork / Garryowen FC / Munster)
David McCann (RBAI / Banbridge RFC / Ulster)
Joe McCarthy (Blackrock College / Dublin University FC / Leinster)
John McKee (Campbell College / Old Belvedere / Leinster)
Ryan McMahon (Clongowes Wood College / Old Belvedere RFC / Leinster)
Harry Noonan (Greystones RFC / Old Wesley RFC / Leinster)
Sean O’Brien (Blackrock College / UCD RFC / Leinster)
Eoin O’Connor (Waterpark RFC / Young Munster RFC / Munster)
Cian Prendergast (Newbridge College / UCD RFC / Leinster)
Anthony Ryan (Clongowes Wood College / Dublin University FC / Leinster)
Bobby Sheehan (Clongowes Wood College / UCD RFC / Leinster)
Alex Soroka (Blackrock College / Dublin University FC / Leinster)
Tom Stewart (Belfast Royal Academy / Ballynahinch RFC / Ulster)
Charlie Ward (Tullow RFC / Clontarf FC / Leinster)

Backs (17):

Niall Comerford (Blackrock College / UCD RFC / Leinster)
Tim Corkery (Kilkenny RFC / Lansdowne FC / Leinster)
Jack Crowley (Bandon RFC / Cork Constitution FC / Munster)
Luis Faria (Newpark Comprehensive / Dublin University FC / Leinster)
Lewis Finlay (Down High School / Malone RFC / Ulster)
Cathal Forde (Coláiste Iognáid / Corinthians RFC / Connacht)
Hayden Hyde (Cranleigh School / Ballynahinch RFC / Ulster)
Diarmuid Kilgallen (Cistercian College Roscrea / Galwegians RFC / Connacht)
Ethan McIlroy (Methody College / Queens RFC / Ulster)
Conor McKee (Sullivan Upper School / Queens RFC / Ulster)
Dan Kelly (Kirkham Grammar / Loughborogh University / IQ Rugby)
Oran McNulty (Millfield School / Corinthians RFC / Connacht)
Ben Moxham (Ballymena RFC / Ballymena RFC / Ulster)
Ben Murphy (Presentation College Bray / Clontarf FC / Leinster)
Max O’Reilly (St Gerard’s / Dublin University FC / Leinster)
Harry O’Riordan (CBC Cork / UCC RFC / Munster)
Andrew Smith (St Michael’s College / Clontarf FC / Leinster)

Ireland Under-20 Six Nations Fixtures:

Ireland v Scotland, Irish Independent Park, Friday, 31 January (7.15pm, RTÉ2)
Ireland v Wales, Irish Independent Park, Friday, 7 February (7.15pm, RTÉ2)
England v Ireland, Franklin’s Gardens, Friday, 21 February (7.45pm, Sky Sports)
Ireland v Italy, Irish Independent Park, Friday, 6 March (7.15pm, RTÉ2)
France v Ireland, Stade Aime Giral, Friday, 13 March (8pm)