Ireland finished their 2008 Under-18 Six Nations Festival campaign on a positive note on Tuesday afternoon as they won their final game, beating Italy 17-15 at Cork Institute of Technology.
2008 UNDER-18 SIX NATIONS FESTIVAL: Tuesday, April 1
IRELAND U-18 SCHOOLS 17 ITALY U-18 15, Cork Institute of Technology
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Luke Marshall, Craig O’Hanlon, Brian Cagney; Con: James McKinney
Italy: Andrea Manici, Tommaso Benvenuti; Con: Tommaso Benvenuti; Pen: Tommaso Benvenuti
Click here for photos from the Festival’s closing ceremony
Ireland had to dig deep for this victory as Italy led by three points with ten minutes to go, but a try from prop Brian Cagney in the dying moments of game was enough to secure them the win.
In a game which really only sparked into life in the second half, it was Italy who started the better. They produced some fine offloading in the early exchanges with the likes of full-back Enrico Michelini and scrum half Edoardo Gori making some eye-catching breaks.
An early try for the visitors looked certain as Italy worked their way patiently up-field and number 8 Lorenzo Santelli had the line at his mercy only to drop the ball much to Ireland’s relief.
James McKinney missed an effort on goal as Ireland pushed forward but the boys in green were more potent in attack as the half wore on.
The hosts did finish the half on a high however as their first score finally came from some excellent play up front.
A strong rolling maul saw Ireland win a penalty which they opted to put in the corner and when David O’Callaghan, captain on the day, won the ball in the air it was spun wide to Luke Marshall who did brilliantly to cut through and touch down.
Ireland though got off to the worst possible start after the break when they conceded a try just seconds after the restart.
Italy won a lineout cleanly and from the resulting ruck, hooker Andrea Manici broke free to crash over and level the score at 5-5.
Ireland recovered very well from their poor start and they did better with ball in hand. When O’Callaghan took another clean lineout, close to the Italian line, the play was pushed wide again for Craig O’Hanlon who used his pace to round the defence and score.
McKinney added the extras to push Ireland into a 12-6 lead and things were looking up for the hosts.
McKinney worked the corners well with his boot but Italy dealt well on the counter attack and their hard work paid off when a superb break from centre Tommaso Benvenuti saw him cut right through Ireland’s midfield to dot down under the posts with just ten minutes to go.
Benvenuti converted his own score and the sides were suddenly level. Benvenuti then knocked over a penalty to Italy ahead, as the game entered the closing minutes.
But Ireland were not giving up easily and they notched the match-winning try when Cagney crashed over following a very good maul deep in the Italian half.
In the other games at the Festival, England beat Scotland 32-5 and Wales won 25-13 against France.
IRELAND U-18 SCHOOLS: Gavin Nugent (Presentation Brothers College Cork); Diarmaid McCarthy (Castletroy Community College), Michael Allen (Methodist College Belfast), Luke Marshall (Ballymena Academy), Craig O’Hanlon (St. Munchin’s College); James McKinney (Campbell College), Jason Bloomfield (Coleraine Academical Institute); Brian Cagney (Presentation Brothers College Cork), Risteard Byrne (Terenure College), Martin Moore (Castleknock College), Brian Hayes (Christian Brothers College Cork), David O’Callaghan (Midleton College) (capt), Dominic Ryan (Gonzaga College), Paul Pritchard (Ballymena Academy), Richard Bent (St. Mary’s College).
Replacements used: Jack O’Connell (Clongowes Wood College) for Moore (46 mins), Ben Marshall (St. Andrew’s College) for Hayes (52), Brian O’Hara (Presentation Brothers College Cork) for Ryan (55), Niall Annett (Methodist College Belfast) for Byrne (57), John Cooney (Gonzaga College) for Bloomfield (65), Denis Buckley (Blackrock College) for Cagney (70), Patrick Butler (Rockwell College) for Pritchard (72).
ITALY U-18: Enrico Michelini (Modena); Francesco Lenzi (Cavalieri), Constantino Ricciardi (Petrarca), Tommaso Benvenuti (Viadana), Giovanbattista Venditti (SSD Unione Capitolina; Alberto Chillon (Petrarca), Edoardo Gori (Cavalieri); Antonio Denti (Viadana), Andrea Manici (Gran Parma), Nicola Corbanese (Benetton Treviso), Filippo Cazzola (Montebelluna), Paolo Stinchello (SSD Unione Capitolina), Filippo Ferrarini (Noceto FC), Gabriele Cicchinelli (SSD Unione Capitolina), Lorenzo Santelli (ASD Universita Cosenza).
Replacements used: Edoardo Carugi (Montepaschi Viadana) for Corbanese, Enrico Lioneri (Ruggers Tarvisum) for Denti (both 35 mins), Nicola Belardo (Partenope) for Cicchinelli (47), Corbanese for Carugi (50).
Referee: Colin Brett (Scotland)