Richie Murphy makes four changes to Under-20s side for World Championship clash with Australia

Hugh Cooney received a three-match suspension after being sent off in Ireland’s draw with England on Saturday

Ireland head coach Richie Murphy has made four changes to the starting team that drew 34-34 with England in the opening match of the Under-20 World Championship for Thursday’s clash with Australia at Paarl Gimnasium (10am Irish time, live on Virgin Media 2).

Hugh Cooney received a three-match suspension at a disciplinary hearing after being sent off in the 75th minute of the English match for a head-on-head clash in attempting to tackle England replacement Jacob Cusick. He received 50 per cent mitigation.

World Rugby confirmed in a statement that “The player (Cooney) intends to apply to take part in the World Rugby Coaching Intervention Programme to substitute the final match of the sanction for a coaching intervention aimed at modifying specific techniques and technical issues that contributed to the foul play.” It means that his ban would be reduced by one match as a result.

Cooney will be replaced in the centre by Hugh Gavin – the midfield is his preferred position – who switches from left wing and will partner fellow Connacht man John Devine. UCD’s James Nicholson comes in on the left wing. The rest of the backline remains intact.


There are several changes in the pack. Dublin University’s Paddy McCarthy switches from tight head to loose head to replace George Hadden who was forced off at half-time in the English match. George Morris played the second half, but he returns to the bench for the Junior Wallabies match so Old Belvedere’s Ronan Foxe will make his debut at tight head prop.

Foxe, who is from Rahugh near Kilbeggan, is a former student at Mercy Secondary school and came through the Youths set-up playing with Tullamore before joining Old Belvedere. Queen’s University secondrow Charlie Irvine came on as a replacement against England and has won a starting role alongside Conor O’Tighearnaigh.

Evan O’Connell drops to the replacements as does Diarmuid Mangan. James McNabney switches to blindside flanker as Garryowen’s Brian Gleeson is handed his familiar number eight jersey. He had a little injury niggle ahead of the opening match and came on in the second half.

UCC’s Danny Sheahan, a nephew of former Ireland hooker Frankie, comes into the replacements as do Buccaneers outhalf Harry West and Queen’s University student, Rory Telfer, who can play right across the backline. Jack Oliver is another change to the bench and the Garryowen scrumhalf is in line to make his debut.

Nathan Grey’s Australia came from behind to beat Fiji 46-37 in their opening match of the tournament.

IRELAND: H McErlean (Terenure); A Osborne (Naas), H Gavin (Galwegians), J Devine (Corinthians), J Nicholson (UCD); S Prendergast (Lansdowne), F Gunne (Terenure); P McCarthy (Dublin University), G McCarthy (UCD, capt), R Foxe (Old Belvedere); C Irvine (QUB), C O’Tighearnaigh (UCD); J McNabney (Ballymena), R Quinn (Old Crescent), B Gleeson (Garryowen). Replacements: D Sheehan (UCC), G Morris (Lansdowne), F Barrett (Galwegians), E O’Connell (UL Bohemian), D Mangan (UCD), J Oliver (Garryowen), H West (Buccaneers), R Telfer (QUB).

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan is an Irish Times sports writer