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Positive Outlook For McAleese And Under-19s

Positive Outlook For McAleese And Under-19s

The Ireland Under-19s are building up a good deal of momentum ahead of the 2007 IRB U-19 World Championship which is being held in Belfast and Bangor in April.

The Irish U-19s lost 31-9 to their Welsh counterparts in a friendly international at Stradey Park last Friday, but coach Charlie McAleese looked on the bright side when reflecting back on the result.

“We took a lot of positives from our game against Wales. We led 9-0 – Eoin O’Malley kicked three penalties for us – and did so well that the Welsh were only in our half for about a minute in the first half,” he said.

“The second half just left us down. Being realistic, we have to work on those deficiencies that occurred in the second half and one of the problems may have been fitness.

“We have a lot of boys who are not playing regularly. Some of them are on the bench some weeks with their clubs. But we’re hoping to develop our skills and those involved with the provincial academies will be involved in that process,” McAleese explained.

It is important to note that before the Wales game, the U-19 squad had only had four weekend training sessions together and their clash with Italy next month is likely to be a better gauge of how their preparations are going for the World Championship.

McAleese and his management team have none of the players available to them from the Irish squad that finished fifth at last year’s U-19 World Championship in Dubai.

The former Ulster mentor explained: “We are always going to be a year behind in that all the other countries can have players for a second year, but we cannot.”

But he added that he will be able to “call upon players when they are finished with their respective schools cup competitions.”

As a further part of their World Championship build-up, the U-19s will play Italy over the weekend of the Italy-Ireland Six Nations clash in Rome next month.

Looking ahead to the IRB tournament, McAleese feels that having the event on home soil “has its advantages and its disadvantages.”

“Being at home will earn us greater support it also puts added pressure on the side to do well. We will assemble four or five days before the tournament and we’ll give it our best shot.”



Thursday, April 5: Ireland U-19 v Australia U-19, Ravenhill, 7.30pm
Monday, April 9: Ireland U-19 v Scotland U-19, Ravenhill, 7.30pm
Friday, April 13: Ireland U-19 v South Africa U-19, Ravenhill, 7.30pm

– Tickets for the 2007 IRB U-17 World Championship are currently on sale and are available from the Ravenhill ticket office at tel: 0044 (0) 28 9049 3222 (10am-12 noon). The ‘Follow The Team’ and ‘Venue’ tickets will be available to purchase online at www.ulsterrugby.com from next Monday (February 26) –