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Tuesday 27 September 2016

Carolan puts faith in lucky 13 to seal a slot in semi-finals

Nigel Carolan Picture: Sportsfile
Nigel Carolan Picture: Sportsfile

It seemed like a humiliation at the time. It could turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

Cillian Gallagher and Bill Johnston were on board when Ireland Schools were held to an 8-all draw by Georgia in last year's FIRA U18 European Cup, losing out 3-1 in a penalty shootout.

The previous year, Ireland had to come-from-behind to secure a 20-10 victory with James Ryan, Max Deegan, Andrew Porter, Conan O'Donnell, Will Connors and Peter Claffey all in the pack.

In other words, Ireland are well aware of what they are dealing with this evening.

"We're in a good position with two wins from two so far in this competition," said coach Nigel Carolan.

"We now have a big test against what is a very physical Georgian side. They pushed Wales all the way."

This is where the judgment of Carolan comes into view.

How many changes are too much? How many are not enough? How many are just right?

"The nature of the tournament means that games come thick and fast. It's important that we use our whole squad.

"There are a number of players who will be starting their first U20 World Championship match, so we're looking forward to seeing them in action".

Carolan has taken the step to introduce 13 new starters with Hugo Keenan and Greg Jones surviving the cull.

Munster second row Evan Mintern and Ulster flanker Conall Bloomer will earn first caps as Ireland bid to make the semi-final with a third win.

Ireland: B Connon (Newcastle Falcons); T Kennedy, J O'Brien (both Leinster), P Kiernan (Munster, Capt), H Keenan (Leinster); J McPhillips (Ulster), N Saunders (Harlequins); J Bollard (Leinster), V O'Brien (Munster), V Abdaladze (Leinster), E Mintern, S O'Connor (both Munster), G Jones (Leinster), C Bloomer (Ulster), K Brown (Munster).

Georgia: M Modebadze; L Miminoshvili, G Koshadze, G Kveseladze, A Merkvilishvili; D Modzgrishvili, V Lobzhanidze; T Mataradze, L Sajaia, L Tabidze, M Babunashvili, O Giorgadze, I Spanerashvili, G Tsutskiridze, B Gorgadze.

Verdict: Ireland.

Ireland U20 v Georgia U20, Today KO5.30 - TG4

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