The Ireland Under-19s secured the Plate title at the FIRA/AER U-19 European Sevens Championship in Lisbon this evening, running out 45-17 winners over Belgium in their final outing of the weekend.
Finishing fifth of the 16 competing teams - with four wins from six games - was a very positive outcome for coaches Kieran Campbell and Colin McEntee, who only brought the squad together for the first time prior to last weekend's Carrick Sevens.
The IRFU accepted a recent invitation from FIRA/AER to compete in the Under-19 Sevens Championship in Lisbon, Portugal, and warmed up for the tournament by winning the U-19 Cup in Carrickfergus.
Ireland were ranked eighth for the two-day European Sevens and won their opening two pool games yesterday against Germany (36-14) and Denmark (54-0), before going down narrowly to defending champions France (19-17).
The Irish youngsters, led by Under-20 scrum half Jack Cullen, scored some cracking tries in the pool stages, one of the highlights being Callum Sheedy's brilliant reverse pass that released fellow Exile Matthew Killeen to score the final try against Germany.
Sprinter Greg O'Shea and Harrison Brewer were both prominent in creating and scoring tries, with big Bradley Greer - the youngest member of the squad at 17 - threatening out wide and hooker Sean McNulty also making his presence felt.
Ireland came from behind against top seeds France to lead 10-7 at half-time in the pool decider, Cullen doing really well to scamper through and pass for Brewer to touch down before the break.
France, who went on to retain their European crown, looked dangerous on the ball and snapped back to lead 14-10 while also having a try ruled out for holding off the ball.
Following the resulting yellow card, Ireland took advantage as Brewer and Ben Kilkenny set up O'Shea for his side's third try.
Crucially, two of the Irish conversions were missed and the squad's inexperience told right at the death as France countered from deep and O'Shea and Cullen were unable to prevent a last-gasp five-pointer.
Ireland moved on to today's Cup quarter-finals as Pool A runners-up, however unbeaten Russia took advantage of a second half yellow card to beat Campbell's charges 7-5.
They quickly put that disappointing result behind them to mount a challenge for the Plate, tallying up five tries in a confident 31-5 victory over Italy.
Garryowen talent Steven McMahon set them on their way, bursting through two tackles for an early converted try under the posts. Greer and O'Shea did further damage as Ireland comfortably qualified for the Plate decider.
In the final against Belgium, Ireland benefited from another strong start as Greer made a half-break and his pass just evaded McMahon's grasp before going into touch.
The opening try came soon after as McMahon and Brewer did some great work at a ruck on the far side in the build-up and Sheedy drew in a couple of defenders to send Greer over in the right corner.
Some dazzling footwork from Sheedy then saw him carve open the Belgian defence for a terrific try which he converted himself.
Ireland went 19-0 clear when Killeen picked up Brewer's flicked pass and surged clean through midfield to score another seven-pointer - much to the vocal Irish supporters' delight.
Belgium pulled a try back before half-time, but Killeen charged away up the left wing and passed inside for Brewer to make it 24-5 early in the second half.
Try number five followed when Sheedy went over unopposed on the blindside, cantering in after the tackled O'Shea had done well to free up possession.
Belgium fell 38-5 behind when Greer muscled in on a breakdown ball to stretch over the try-line, but Ireland looked a little tired when leaking two tries in quick succession.
Even so, they managed to have the final say as Brewer, having broken from deep, popped the ball back for O'Shea to go over and complete a well-earned 45-17 triumph.
The Ireland Women's team played their first ever November Test match at the Twickenham Stoop last Saturday. We take a look back at the journey as Ireland capped nine new players in a rain-swept London.
Ireland Women's head coach Tom Tierney said that despite an 8-3 loss to England in their autumn international, the team put in an 'outstanding' effort and to get nine new caps on the pitch is 'a massive boost'.
Head coach Tom Tierney spoke to Irish Rugby TV about the Ireland Women's historic November international clash with England on Saturday. Ireland have eleven new caps in the squad as they build towards the Six Nations.
Ireland Women's second row Sophie Spence talks to Irish Rugby TV about being nominated for the World Rugby Women's Player of the Year honour. The winner will be announced at the World Rugby Awards at Battersea Evolution in London on Sunday.
There are three enforced changes to the Ireland team to play Argentina, with Iain Henderson, Jordi Murphy and Chris Henry all coming in up front. Watch as head coach Joe Schmidt announces the side for the quarter-final and flanker Henry talks about his inclusion.
Previewing Ireland's quarter-final clash with Argentina, hooker Rory Best said: "We've trained well and prepared well. It's a massive game. For us, it's going to need another step up from where we were last week against France. I think that's exciting. As a player, you want to be pushed to the end of your ability and there's no doubt Argentina will do that."
Ireland Women's head coach Tom Tierney, scrum coach Derek Dowling and captain Niamh Briggs talk about their open training session at Kingspan Stadium and preparations for next month's clash with England and the 2016 Women's Six Nations.
'It's a quiet presence that takes up a lot of space' - Joe Schmidt spoke today about the impact of losing Paul O'Connell and his inspirational role in the Ireland squad. The head coach also commented on the incredible contribution of Jared Payne and Peter O'Mahony.
Robbie Henshaw, who starred in the centre against France, talks about Paul O'Connell's influence on him, calling the Limerick man a 'true inspirational leader' and 'a massive loss' to the Ireland squad following his tournament-ending hamstring injury.
Ireland team manager Michael Kearney issues an update on the injuries suffered by Peter O'Mahony, Paul O'Connell and Jonathan Sexton, while full-back Rob Kearney reflects on the 24-9 pool win over France.