The Ireland Under-18 Clubs side did themselves proud at the recent FIRA/AER Under-18 European Championships in France. They finished third overall behind France and England and only missing out on a third successive final by the narrowest of margins.
Amongst their number were six young Exiles hoping to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Simon Easterby by representing Ireland.
The role of the Exiles in supporting the Ireland Under-18 Clubs side was alluded to before the tournament by team manager Willie Gribben.
Providing, as it does, another avenue for potential Ireland internationals to gain experience at age grade level, the Exiles system is a key element in recruiting young Irish-qualified players in England.
At the recent FIRA/AER Under-18 European Championships, six young men ‘flew the flag’ for the Exiles.
They are: Luke O’Keefe (London Wasps), Nathaniel McDonald (Worcester Warriors), Luke Murphy-Wooldridge (St. Olave’s, Kent), Kieran Marmion (Kirkham Grammar), Grant Connon (Austin Friars St. Monica’s, Carlisle) and Callum Burke (London Wasps/Hampton School).
Though defeated by England in the semi-final, it was such a close affair that hopes run high for next year, particularly as two of the six – Kieran Marmion and Grant Connon – are eligible again.