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Under-18s Off To Winning Start

Under-18s Off To Winning Start

The Ireland Under-18 Clubs side opened their account in the FIRA/AER European Championships in France with an ultimately convincing 32-5 win over Russia on Sunday.

Coach Greg Lynch’s charges struggled in the opening exchanges of the game as they tried to come to terms with the hot conditions and an as expected physical Russia team who made Ireland fight every inch of the way. 

Ireland eventually settled into their rhythm and scored the opening try through centre Nathaniel McDonald, putting them 5-0 up.

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Russia responded immediately and after some excellent defence on Ireland’s line, the Russians eventually scored following a well-executed cross kick by the out-half for their left winger to dot down in the corner and level the game. 

Ireland then exerted their own pressure and after four consecutive penalties close to the Russian line, they was awarded a penalty try, with one of the Russian players being sent to the sin-bin.

Out-half Jack Carty kicked the conversion to bring the score to 12-5. 

Ireland centre and captain David Lynch led by example with his team creating several line breaks.

One of these led to a lineout on the Russian 22-metre line from which the ball was swept wide for left winger Luke O’Keefe to score in the corner and leave the half-time score at 17-5.

The Irish kept the pace up after the break and had the next score after only five minutes of the second period, outstanding back row Dominic Gallagher capitalising to score out wide on the left.

Coach Lynch then wisely chose to use his bench in the humid conditions in the second half.  Two of these changes, centre Andrew Boyle, who came on for McDonald, and Grant Connon, who replaced Carty, made telling contributions.

The pair, alongside skipper Lynch, caused plenty of problems defensively for Russia and under this pressure, Connon kicked a penalty in the 55th minute to make it 25-5.

With 15 minutes left, Ireland won a turnover on the Russian 22 and scrum half Mark Dolan pushed an exquisite grubber kick through the defensive line to allow O’Keefe dot down for the second time. Connon added the extras.

Lynch made further changes and one of the replacements, Robbie Holt, was held up just short of the line, but the Russians held firm to leave the final score 32-5.

Ireland now go through to the semi-finals of the tournament, where they will play England on Wednesday (April 8) in Hyeres at 3.30pm local time.

IRELAND UNDER-18 CLUBS TEAM & REPLACEMENTS (v Russia Under-18s, FIRA/AER Under-18 European Championships Quarter-Final, La Valette, Cote d’Azur):

15 – Callum Boland (Buccaneers/Connacht)

14 – Luke O’Keefe (London Wasps/Exiles)

13 – Nathaniel McDonald (Worcester Warriors/Exiles)

12 – David Lynch (Naas /Leinster) (capt)

11 – Michael Sherlock (Skerries/Leinster)

10 – Jack Carty (Buccaneers/Connacht)

9 – Mark Dolan (Buccaneers/Connacht)

1 – Eddie Downes (Wicklow/Leinster)

2 – John Sutton (New Ross/Leinster)

3 – Tadhg Furlong (New Ross/Leinster)

4 – Michael Kearney (Clontarf/Leinster)

5 – Daniel Qualter (Buccaneers/Connacht)

6 – Dominic Gallagher (Lisburn/Ulster)

7 – Aaron Conneely (Corinthians/Connacht)

8 – Eoin McKeown (Galwegians/Connacht)

Replacements used: Jake Considine (Young Munster/Munster) for Downes (48 mins), Rory Cunningham (Galwegians/Connacht) for Conneely, Grant Connon (Austin Friars St. Monica’s/Exiles) for Carty, Andrew Boyle (Old Wesley/Leinster) for McDonald (all 50), Jonathan Murphy (Banbridge/Ulster) for Sutton, Callum Burke (London Wasps/Hampton School/Exiles) for Gallagher, Robbie Holt (Edenderry/Leinster) for Boland (all 55). Not used: Luke Murphy-Wooldridge (St. Olave’s School/Exiles), Connor Smyth (Coleraine/Ulster), Kieran Marmion (Kirkham GS/Exiles), Paul Dean (Old Wesley/Leinster).