Ian Keatley sent over the match-winning kick for the second week running as Ireland’s Under-20s stunned France, the reigning world champions, at Dubarry Park on Friday night.
2007 UNDER-20 SIX NATIONS CHAMPIONSHIP: Friday, February 9
IRELAND U-20 19 FRANCE U-21 16, Dubarry Park (Att: 3,000)
Scorers: Ireland: Try: Richard Sweeney; Con: Ian Keatley; Pens: Keatley 4
France: Try: Jean Monribot; Con: Romain Sola; Pens: Sola 2, Francois Trinh Duc
Keatley, the UCD and Leinster Academy out-half, held his nerve superbly to thump over an injury-time penalty, from the ten-metre line, and chalk up a second Six Nations win for Eric Elwood’s impressive young side.
The Irish, who were playing into a diagonal wind in the opening half, missed out on a deserved 17th-minute try when, after good work by Aidan Wynne and Felix Jones, Munster Academy player Keith Earls knocked on with the try line in sight.
But they did get over, twelve minutes later, when Keatley kicked a penalty to touch, Andrew Browne then claimed the lineout ball and a brilliant maul drive put hooker Richard Sweeney over for the try.
Keatley converted and added a penalty in first half injury-time, after a penalty brace from French number 10 Romain Sola.
10-6 in arrears at the break, the visitors, who are fielding their U-21 side in this competition, dominated for a short spell. They kicked a flurry of penalties to touch and flanker Jean Monribot eventually plunged over for a try.
Sola tagged on the extras but Elwood’s charges, impressive 17-15 winners in Wales last week, hit back in the final quarter. Keatley exchanged penalties with substitute Francois Trinh Duc as France lost lock Dorian Seve to the sin-bin for killing the ball.
Ireland took full advantage – Keatley swung over his third penalty of the night to draw his side level and took the ESB-sponsored man-of-the-match gong with his stunning kick at the death.
IRELAND U-20: Felix Jones (Seapoint/Leinster); Shane Monahan (Dublin University/Leinster), Darren Cave (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Aidan Wynne (Buccaneers/Connacht), Keith Earls (Thomond/Munster); Ian Keatley (UCD/Leinster), Paul O’Donohoe (UCD/Leinster); Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster), Richard Sweeney (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Jamie Hagan (Greystones/Leinster), Conor McInerney (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Andrew Browne (Galwegians/Connacht), Thomas Anderson (Dungannon/Ulster), Tommy O’Donnell (UL Bohemians/Munster), David Pollock (QUB/Ulster) (capt).
Replacements used: Ger Slattery (Young Munster/Munster) for Sweeney (53 mins), Kevin Sheahan (UCD/Leinster) for O’Donnell (56), Ruaidhri Murphy (Lansdowne/Leinster) for Hagan (65), Kyle Tonetti (UCD/Leinster) for Wynne (79). Not used: Neilus Keogh (UCC/Munster), David Drake (Ballymena/Ulster), Niall O’Connor (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster).
FRANCE U-21: Maxime Medard; Yoann Huget, Thomas Combezou, Arnaud Mignardi, Mathieu Nicolas; Romain Sola, Fabio Da Silva; Benjamin Sore, Guilhem Guirado, Damien Weber, Dorian Seve, Damien Lagrange, Jean Monribot, Fulgence Ouedraogo (capt), Louis Picamoles.
Replacements used: Julien Andoque for Weber (46 mins), Julien Fumat for Medard, Francois Trinh Duc for Sola (both 51), Weber for Sore (58), Cesar Damiani for Lagrange, Laurent Simutoga for Andoque (both 72), Maxime Carabignac for Da Silva (80). Not used: Benjamin Beaux.
Referee: Iain Heard (Scotland)