Friday saw a fitting end to a fantastic IRB Under-19 World Championship for Charlie McAleese's Ireland side as they defeated Wales for fifth place at the Dubai tournament.
IRB UNDER-19 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP: Friday, April 21
5TH-6TH PLACE PLAY-OFF:
IRELAND 20 WALES 15, Dubai Exiles RFC
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Cian Healy, James Gethings; Cons: Brian Collins 2; Pen: Collins; Drop: Collins
Wales: Tries: Daniel Franks, Kenneth Owens, Lewis Evans
It was a fourth win in five games for McAleese's side, who as well as beating Samoa and Argentina in the Emirates, also gained revenge on England and Six Nations champions Wales for defeats earlier in the year.
In February, Justin Burnell's Welsh outfit beat Ireland 31-6 at Stradbrook on their way to winning the Grand Slam. With that in mind, the young Dragons went into Friday's play-off clash as firm favourites, especially after their midweek victory over 2005 World champions South Africa.
A heavy beating for the boys in green looked on the cards when flanker Daniel Franks (2 minutes) and hooker Kenneth Owens (8) crashed over for early Welsh tries.
The Welsh held firm for a 10-0 lead at the interval, but Belvedere prop Cian Healy, a senior international in the making, began the Irish fightback. Nine minutes into the second half, the powerful Healy muscled over for his second try of the tournament.
Castleknock out-half Brian Collins converted and he added the extras to a second Irish try on 48 minutes. Gonzaga prop James Gethings, on as a replacement, got the touchdown to help Ireland go in front for the first time. Collins, who finished as the tournament's third top scorer with 55 points, added a 57th-minute penalty.
Welsh number 8 Lewis Evans replied with an unconverted try, five minutes from the end, to set up a dramatic finish with Ireland just 17-15 in front.
But despite losing both Gethings and replacement back row Thomas Walsh to yellow cards, the Irish held on for a famous win as Collins launched over a 25-metre drop goal in the dying seconds.
Irish coach McAleese said afterwards: "It was a real rollercoaster. This win has capped a truly wonderful tournament for us. The character of the boys has been tremendous."
Irish openside flanker and captain David Pollock, a scholarship student at Queen's University, added: "It was a tremendous second half. Everyone in this squad has come together and we have all gelled well."
IRELAND: Sean Carey (St. Joseph's College, Garbally); Shane Monahan (Dublin University), Keith Earls (St. Munchin's College), Ian Keatley (UCD), Michael Barker (Queen's University); Brian Collins (Castleknock College), David Drake (Instonians RFC); Ruaidhri Murphy (Castleknock College), Gerard Slattery (St. Munchin's College), Cian Healy (Belvedere College), Thomas Anderson (Queen's University), Conor McInerney (UCD), Tommy O'Donnell (UL Bohemians), David Pollock (Queen's University) (capt), Kevin Sheahan (UCD).
Replacements used: James Gethings (Gonzaga College), for Murphy, Thomas Walsh (Castleknock College) for McInerney (both 40 mins), Richard Sweeney (UCD) for O'Donnell (63), Andrew Browne (Galwegians) for Anderson, David Gilchrist (UCD) for Slattery (both 69). Not used: Niall O'Connor (Limavady GS), Paul O'Donohoe (Belvedere College), Ivan Dineen (CBC Cork), Ian Whitten (Queen's University), Jonathan Graham (Ballynahinch), Aidan Wynne (Blackrock College).
WALES: Martyn Thomas; Alec Jenkins, Gareth Maule, Ashley Smith, Jimmy Norris; Rhys Priestland, Darren Allinson; Hugh Gustafson, Kenneth Owens, Jamie Corsi, Bradley Davies (capt), Lou Reed, Matthew Larsen, Daniel Franks, Lewis Evans.
Replacements used: Rhys Jones for Thomas (29 mins), Luke Ford for Maule (43), Marc Jones for Owens (49), Robert Lewis for Allinson (50). Not used: Keiron Jenkins, Nicholas Eaves, James Down, Neil Williams, Samuel Kiley, James Lewis.
Sin Bin: J Gethings (Ireland) (62 mins), T Walsh (Ireland) (64)
Referee: Keith Brown (New Zealand)