The Leinster U19s are hampered by the loss of those players, like full-back Jack Power, who move straight into the U20s Age Grade and helped by being able to call on others, like their lock James Ryan, who would be a first-rate candidate for the U20s were it not for the fact that he is still at St Michael’s College…

The leadership qualities Ryan brings are those that prompted Ireland U18 Schools coach Noel McNamara to make him their captain for the FIRA European Championships back at Easter. He fulfils the same role here.
There is also Irish Schools pedigree to draw on from centre Matthew Gilsenan, a sound goal-kicking option, number eight Max Deegan and hookers Johnny Molony and Hugo Kean.     

There is a mix there. You do lose a few players. But, there is also the protection from the guys that are still at school not being able to play for the 20s,” said Leinster U19 coach Hugh Hogan.

This gives opportunity to some players who have never played for Leinster before and for some of the Leinster Clubs players to come in and show what they can do”.

Gonzaga scrum-half Nick Peters, Clongowes Wood full-back Alan Hughes and Blackrock wing Hugo Keenan are examples of three young men who have knuckled down and taken Hogan’s eye, while starting props Vac Abdaladze and Adam Coyle have impressed and improved significantly. 

This Leinster edition has already stored away four pre-Interprovincial matches, beating The Exiles (44-6), Connacht (34-12), the Bristol Academy feeder school Filton College in what were largely experimental processes, ending with a very competitive 25-22 win over Northampton last Friday.

We start off with Munster. We don’t know a huge amount about them or the style they are going to play. One thing you can be certain about is that they will be well coached by Colm McMahon and Brendan O’Connor,” said Hogan.

There will be no quarter asked or given up front where Munster should have strong props in Ben Betts and Peter Meyer with Josh Barnes, the younger brother of ex-Munster centre Danny in the second row. Number eight Ronan Murphy and probable captain Rory Hogan are real competitors too.

Leinster will have to get up to speed from the first whistle and this may have had something to do with the organisation of four matches in the lead-up to this point. They should be ready. But, then there is nothing that can fully prepare them for the sight of a red jersey.

Ulster will have great motivation to defend their title this month as they could not complete the clean sweep last season. They lost out to Leinster at Donnybrook in the last round of fixtures to leave an unsatisfactory aftertaste to winning the Championship.

They have been diligent in their preparations under the detailed eye of former Ulster senior coach Brian McLaughlin, taking out The Exiles (15-10) and North Wales (36-7). Out-half Gareth Millar has shown himself to be a clever playmaker and winger Johnny Rosborough has been catching fire with ball in hand, striking for a hat-trick of tries in the second match. 

The Northern Province also pack a punch up front where their scrum is considered to be a strength with which Connacht will have to deal at Belfast Harlequins RFC on Saturday. 

The Westerners do not lack firepower in the front five themselves. They are able to call on Ireland U18 Schools forwards in prop Conor Kenny and second row Peter Claffey and Ireland Clubs international flanker Matthew Cosgrove, their captain for the campaign. They showed all the signs of knitting together nicely in their 23-21 win over The Exiles with fly-half Simon Keller moving the ball well.

Their greatest weapon could be their collectivity as there is a smattering of players from last year’s Connacht Schools Senior Cup final in Sligo Grammar’s Cosgrove and hooker Joe Bennett working in tandem with ex-Garbally teammates Peter Flannery, Kenny, Claffey and Keller. 

Leinster U19’s Squad to face Munster U19’s in Templeville road at 2.30pm Saturday 6th of September:

15. Alan Hughes (Clongowes Wood College S.J.)
14. Matthew Byrne (Terenure College)
13. Con Callan (St. Gerard’s School)
12. Matthew Gilsenan (St. Michael’s College)
11. Hugo Keenan (Blackrock College)
10. Jimmy O’Brien (Newbridge College)
9. Nick Peters (Gonzaga College S.J.)

1. Vakh Abdaladze (Coolmine RFC)
2. John Molony (Clongowes Wood College S.J.)
3. Adam Coyle (Naas RFC)
4. Michael Melia (Terenure College)
5. James Ryan (St. Michael’s College) CAPTAIN
6. Will Connors (Clongowes Wood College S.J.)
7. David Aspil (The High School)
8. Max Deegan (St. Michael’s College)


16. Hugo Kean (Blackrock College)
17. Eoghan Byrne (Gonzaga College S.J.)
18. Eoin O’Neill (St. Michael’s College)
19. Jack O’Sullivan (Castleknock College)
20. Matthew Bursey (The King’s Hospital)
21. Andrew Feeney (Suttonians RFC)
22. David Poff (Wesley College)
23. Jake Howlett (Newbridge College)

Munster U19’s Squad:
15. James O’Connor (Tralee RFC)
14. Brian Fanning (Bruff RFC)
13. Tim Cronin (Bantry Bay RFC)
12. Rory Horgan (Rockwell College) CAPTAIN
11. Joe White (Clonakility RFC)
10. Paul Downes (Bruff RFC)
9. John Poland (Presentation Brothers College)

1. Philip Poilet (UL Bohemian RFC)
2. Shane Felton (Ard Scoil Ris)
3. Ben Betts (Young Munster RFC)
4. Josh Barnes (Tralee RFC)
5. Sean O’Connor (Rockwell College)
6. Ronan Murphy (Castletroy College)
7. Daniel Walsh (Christian Brothers College)
8. Kelvin Brown (Shannon RFC)


16. Vincent O’ Brien (Christian Brothers College)
17. Peter Meyer (St. Munchins College)
18. David Jennings (Clonaklity RFC)
19. Patrick Staff (Young Munster RFC)
20. Stephen Hickey (Cobh Pirates RFC)
21. Rory Cunningham (Old Crescent RFC)
22. Paul O’Keefe (Kanturk RFC)
23. Gary O’Sullivan (Cresent College Comprehensive)

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