Leinster’s U-21s were given a huge boost ahead of this weekend’s interprovincial series when Shane O’Donoghue was cleared by the Irish senior men’s coach Andrew Meredith to play in the competition.
The UCD sharp-shooter will be among one of the key components for the blues as he heads up a team filled with his College team mates – nine making the panel after their impressive domestic league season.
To that end, the side is managed by UCD’s staff with Rory O’Donoghue and Paul Fitzpatrick taking on the coaching duties while Nick Burns and Ben Dobson line out for Munster.
The younger O’Donoghue is one of two full internationals in the panel, joined by sweeper David Cole while Wesley College student Kirk Shimmins is likely to be another key component in midfield.
It is quite a youthful side, though, with Cole, Shimmins, Ben Chadwick, Ross Canning, Ravin Nair and Robbie Clarke stepping up from last season’s Leinster U-18s while a couple more are only a year out of school.
They start off with a date against Munster on Friday evening before taking a day off and then facing Ulster on Sunday afternoon.
On the women’s side, the blues are similarly boosted for the competition as they are able to include three of their US-based players with Aisling Naughton, Gillian Pinder and Emma Russell in this weekend’s panel.
It’s a reasonably new look panel, though, as the Irish internationals are not available due to their training camp in Spain this week. It means six players return – Pinder, Sinead McGirr, Hayley Mulcahy, Erika Hinkson, Rachel Barnett and Vera Taaffe – for the title defence.
Sunday looks the key day when they meet both Munster and Ulster. Having not competed a year ago, the South East are back in the mix and they feature a trio of Bray club members as well as UCD’s Helen O’Sullivan and Sammy Willis. Kilkenny College schoolgirl Amanda Haslam will be one of their go-to options in the forward line.
Men’s U21 Interprovincial Tournament
Friday, February 1: Ireland U-18 vs Ulster, 7pm; Munster v Leinster, 8pm
Saturday, February 2: Ireland U-18 vs Leinster, 3.30pm; Munster vs Ulster, 4pm
Sunday, February 3: Ireland U-18 vs Munster, 3pm; Leinster vs Ulster, 3.30pm
Electric Ireland Women’s U21 Interprovincial Tournament
Saturday, February 2: South East vs Munster, 9.30am; Leinster vs Connacht, 10.30am; Ulster vs Connacht, 1.30pm; Leinster vs South East,2pm; Ulster vs Connacht, 5.30pm
Sunday, February 3: Leinster vs Munster, 9am; South East vs Connacht, 10am; Ulster vs South East, 1pm; Munster vs Connacht, 1.30pm; Ulster vs Leinster, 5pm
Women’s Leinster U-21s: Rachel Barnett (GK, Railway Union), Nicola Walsh (GK, Trinity), Erika Hinkson, Laura Gray, Sarah Robinson (all Old Alex), Orla Patton, Laura Pinder (both Hermes), Hayley Mulcahy, Carly Baker, Sinead McGirr (all Loreto), Kate Lloyd (Railway Union), Avril Dooley-O’Carroll, Vera Taaffe, Anna-May Whelan (all Trinity), Emily Beatty (UCD), Gillian Pinder (Syracuse University/Hermes), Aisling Naughton (Uni of Michigan/Old Alex), Emma Russell (Syracuse/Old Alex)
Coaches: Chris Tyrell, Keith Crawford; Manager: Michelle Heming
South East U-21s: Laura McCarthy (GK, Bray), Catherine Murphy (UCC), Debbie Young (Kilkenny), Ciara Tomkins (Gorey), Amanda Haslam (Hermes), Lucy Dooley (Kilkenny), Laura Hennessy (Kilkenny), Kate Brooks (Bray), Sammy Willis (UCD), Margaret Byrne, Jean Devoy (UL), Aoife Murphy (Birmingham University), Serena Rush (Bray), Susan Shirley (Kilkenny), Helen O’Sullivan (UCD), Joanne Claxton (Kilkenny)
Manager: Nuala Shaw; Coach: Victor Shaw; Assistant Coach: David Williamson
Men’s Leinster U-21 squad: Conor Quinn (GK, UCD), Mark Ingram (GK, Pembroke), Ravin Nair (UCD), David Cole (Monkstown), Robert Burke (UCD), Jake Beirne, (Monkstown), Ben Chadwick (YMCA), Robert Clarke (Corinthian), Shane O’Donoghue (UCD), Jonathan Lewis (Corinthian), Luke Chadwick (UCD), Kirk Shimmins (Pembroke), Jeremy Duncan (UCD), Ross Canning (UCD), Shane Madeley (Three Rock Rovers), David Watkins (UCD), Simon McKeever (Fingal), Andrew Shekleton (Fingal),
Coach: Rory O’Donoghue, Asst Coach: Paul Fitzpatrick; Manager: Peter Chadwick; Physio: Helena Campbell