The last round of the Bank of Ireland U-16 Shane Horgan Cup takes place in a doubleheader at Energia Park on Wednesday afternoon.

South-East v North Midlands (Energia Park – KO 2pm)

The North Midlands started out in impressive fashion by taking down Midlands (29-17) only to have their rhythm disrupted by a bye week and the subsequent postponement of their next outing against Metro.

This showed up in how they lost out 19-14 to North East in the fourth round, a match that could have gone either way.

They will have to go into this without their starting hooker Harry Dunne, who has been prominent within the squad.

Josh Domican will be eager to step in and show his value in the middle of a front row with Joshua Apps and Luke McTiernan.

The engine room will be occupied by Ryan McDonnell and Darragh Townsend, while Naas flankers Jack Dempsey and Zach Kennedy feed off each other.

No 8 Sean Walsh is the fulcrum around whom a lot of their momentum is generated, even from static ball.

Out-half Sean Behan and Athy centres Darragh Farrell, the captain, and Oran Kelleher have formed a fine platform from which to launch the attack.

The South-East have won one of three when it could so easily have been two, such is the nature of the competition.

They were unable to match Metro (26-19) in round one, bouncing back to stun Midlands 31-5 before just falling short against North-East (19-14).

They have the luxury of two fine nines in Daniel Ring and Stephen Hendy, who have been sharing time in the position.

Out-half Brian Johnston is a silky, rangy out-half, who has been given a quick, accurate service by both of the aforementioned half-back partners.

Luke Chatten is something of an anomaly on the left-wing in that he will be available to this age group again next season, a sign of his promise.

Hooker Hugh Greaney is a natural thrower, an invaluable asset for his jumpers, like Ricardo Whelan.

As always seems to be the case for these regions, South-East have almost a guarantee of go-forward from No 8 Jamie O’Brien.

South-East – Cathal Kehoe (Enniscorthy); William Fitzpatrick (Wicklow), Sean Logue (Wexford Wanderers), Cathal Gorman (Tullow), Luke Chatten (County Carlow); Brian Johnston (Wicklow), Daniel Ring (Kilkenny); Sean Carey (Gorey), Hugh Greaney (Kilkenny), Cormac Murphy (Wicklow), Tom Hughes (Tullow), Ricardo Whelan (Wicklow), Oren Cullen (Gorey), Hugh Roche (Wexford Wanderers), Jamie O’Brien (Kilkenny).

Replacements: TJ Kennedy (Wicklow), Daragh McCormack (Wicklow), Mark Power (Kilkenny), Michael Ryan (Tullow), Marcas Bowen (Kilkenny), Stephen Hendy (Gorey), Cian Bolger (Enniscorthy), Joshua Rossiter (Wexford Wanderers).

North Midlands – Killian O’Sullivan (Clane); Daniel Thornton (Portlaoise), Oran Kelleher (Athy), Darragh Farrell (Athy), Elliot Walsh (Clondalkin); Sean Behan (Cill Dara), Colm Moran (Athy); Joshua Apps (Clondalkin), Josh Domican (Clondalkin), Luke McTiernan (North Kildare), Ryan McDonnell (Athy), Darragh Townsend (Portlaoise), Jack Dempsey (Naas), Zach Kennedy (Naas), Sean Walsh (North Kildare).

Replacements: Jack Kelly (Clane), Gavin Agar (Newbridge), Aran Coiley (Portlaoise), Jack Osborne (Naas), Daniel Steed (Clondalkin), Sam Jordan (North Kildare), Rowan Finnegan (Naas), Ruaidhri Lawlor (Athy), Oliver Reilly (Clane), Conor Langabeer (Clondalkin), Cian Crampton (Naas).

North-East v Midlands (Energia Park – KO 4pm)

The North-East will be out to protect their unbeaten record against the improving Midlands.

To this point, they have been able to subdue Metro (19-17), South-East (19-14) and North Midlands (19-14) in close-fought contests.

The fact all three were one-score matches speaks to the even standard and the ultra-competitive nature of the areas.

The North-East are anchored by tighthead Ciaran Scott and the all-Skerries back row of Luke Fagan, Mike Brannigan and Evan Shelly is a mobile, well-balanced unit.

No 8 Shelly has been particularly effective as a ball carrier, giving the half-backs the front-foot ball to use the three quarters.

Oisin McEneany and Jack Litchfield also have the advantage of club familiarity, rounding out the half-dozen representatives from Skerries.

This is matched by a similar impact from Navan, especially out wide where Meath boys Declan O’Connor, Seamus Evans and Shaun O’Reilly combine so well.

Balbriggan centre Harley Harold is one to watch on both sides of the ball for his competitive instinct.

The problem for North-East is that the Midlands have been able to learn from the opening two rounds in which they lost out to North Midlands (29-17) and South East (31-5).

They used the bye week to recalibrate and put out, by far, their best performance in an encouraging 20-13 defeat of Metro.

In the forwards, the front row of Yaw Appiah, Ciaran Heffernan and James Ryan will be expected to do much of the heavy lifting at the set-piece.

Openside Callum Mulligan is a smart operator on both sides of the ball, able to carry as destructively as he can hurry and hustle, always keeping one eye on the ground for a turnover.

The half-backs Paidi Gorman and Oisin O’Hara are in command of the game plan when it comes to finding space.

Eoin Conlon is emerging as someone others look to follow into the trenches as a no-nonsense centre.

“The Shane Horgan Cup is a vehicle for us to identify talent in the clubs at this age group where we continue to monitor, assess and develop players,” said North-East Coach Development Officer Collie O’Hare.

Meanwhile, the competitive drive of the players means this final round offers up the carrot of silverware.

“It is a league competition. It is very competitive across the board. It is important to put the players into an environment where there is something at stake.

“It is all about getting the balance right, pushing individual and collective development while there is a prize on the line.”

North-East – Declan O’Connor (Navan); Seamus Evans (Navan), Shaun O’Reilly (Navan), Harley Harold (Balbriggan), Dara McFadden (Balbriggan); Jack Litchfield (Skerries), Oisin McEneany (Skerries); Griffin Carrick (Skerries), Max Ward (Dundalk), Ciaran Scott (Navan), Chuck Ohawaga (Navan), Tadgh Flanagan (Navan), Luke Fagan (Skerries), Mike Brannigan (Skerries), Evan Shelly (Skerries).

Replacements: Colin Jordan (Navan), Hugh Keogh (Ratoath), Luis Hodson (Balbriggan), Philip Smyth (Navan), Aidan Rennie (Navan), Adam Dooley (Boyne), Liam Philips-O’Brien (Skerries), Lee Bennett (Ratoath).

Midlands – Andrew Hill (Edenderry); Cian Lynam (Tullamore), Cody Broderick (Midland Warriors), Eoin Conlon (Mullingar), Killian Bennett (Wilson’s Hospital); Oisin O’Hara (Mullingar), Paidi Gorman (Edenderry); Yaw Appiah (Longford), Ciaran Heffernan (Longford), James Ryan (Roscrea), Jake Kenny (Tullamore), Artur Lazor (Mullingar), Tadhg Clear (Tullamore), Callum Mulligan (Wilson’s Hospital), John Casey (Mullingar).

Replacements: Finbar Kelly (Mullingar), James Grehan (Longford), Adam Meehan (Mullingar), Cillian Bourke (Tullamore).