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Navan Crowned All-Ireland Under-16 Champions

Navan Crowned All-Ireland Under-16 Champions

Navan’s Under-16 players capped off a magnificent weekend for the Meath club by taking All-Ireland honours after an eight-point final win over Connacht champions Galwegians at Naas RFC on Sunday.

2009 ALL-IRELAND UNDER-16 CUP FINAL: Sunday, April 19


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Scorers: Navan: Tries: Conal Ryan, Akhlaque Khan; Cons: Liam Bourke 2; Pen: Liam Bourke
Galwegians: Try: Ronan O’Donnell; Con: Jonathan Daly; Pen: Jonathan Daly

Boosted by the promotion of their senior side to the AIB League the previous day and also success for their Under-13 counterparts, Navan began the Under-16 final strongly.

Galwegians were overrun for about 15 minutes of the first half by a powerful Navan unit who were very well organised and very strong.

From the kick-off, Navan got the ball into their opponents 22, carving out a lot of early scrums before the eventual winners broke the scoring deadlock.

Their captain Conal Ryan, who recently earned a callup to the Irish Youths squad, put his name to the game’s first try.

Out-half Liam Bourke kicked well out of hand and he fired over the conversion and a subsequent penalty to give his side a 10-point cushion midway through the half.

Navan continued to impress and broke through for a second try. Good work by Akhlaque Khan saw him cross to the right of the posts to ensure a 15-0 lead at the break.

Galwegians came out on the restart and scored an excellent try after a good, concerted attack. Following a series of kicks and drives by the forwards, eventually Ronan O’Donnell got over for the touchdown with Jonathan Daly sending over the resulting conversion.

The Connacht side subsequently came back downfield, kicking to the corners and piling on the pressure. They won a penalty which Daly converted and at that stage the game was very much in the melting pot at 15-10.

Navan responded with Galwegians forced to defend strongly as the Meath outfit went in search of a try to no avail when a penalty chance had presented itself.

However, a penalty opportunity once again came Navan’s way and this time Bourke slotted between the posts to give his side their first score of the second half.

Although Navan had opened up an eight-point gap at this stage, the game was far from over with the Galway youngsters exerting pressure once more.

‘Wegians had two chances to add to their tally, firstly when Ronan Burke was put into space.

Burke made an excellent break down the right side, took a step back but he was brought down close to the line.

Then O’Donnell, after a nice pick and feed from number 8 Jordan Healy, made a lovely break down the blindside and was held up just short

Time ran out for Galwegians as Navan claimed honours with their joint coach Des O’Brien involved in spearheading his third triumph at this grade.

“It’s our third All-Ireland win in the last few years and I was fortunate enough to be coach in 2001 and 2002 with my fellow coach Victor Grey,” he said.

O’Brien was also impressed with the spirit and character shown by his side after Galwegians battled back in the second half.

“We came back strongly and we tend to do that, we tend to finish well. There is a great spirit in the team and they don’t take anything lying down.

“When a team comes at them they pick it up and go back at them again.

“Our defence were very good, especially around the fringes. Galwegians were very much forward-orientated and had some big forwards and a big front row. We defended our fringes very well.”

Despite the loss, Galwegians coach Joe Healy was happy with his side’s battling qualities, after they showed great determination to overcome a 15-point interval deficit and come back into contention.

“They were in danger of being overwhelmed but chose not to be which was very impressive from my perspective,” he admitted.

“I would concede that Navan, on balance, were perhaps a marginally better side than us, but withstanding that Galwegians actually put themselves in a position to win the game.

“And if one or two things had gone their way they would have had the scores to do that but it wasn’t to be. That’s no fault to them on that score.”

NAVAN: Aaron Smyth; Andrew Garland, Daire Dalton, Akhlaque Khan, Alan Moran; Liam Bourke, Richard O’Brien; David Mooney, Darragh Mink, Alan Meade, Brian Cunningham, Lorcan O’Toole, John Sheridan, Niall Carty, Conal Ryan (capt).

Replacements used: Adam St Ledger for Mooney; Matthew Clarke for O’Toole, Andrew Douglas for Smyth, Barry Kirwan for Garland. Not used: Conor Keating, Shane Stafford, Kevin Devine.

GALWEGIANS: Ronan Burke; Gary Fox, Jordan Dooley, Darragh Leader, Gordon Croke, Jonathan Daly, Ronan O’Donnell; Paul Griffin (capt), Donal Hanley, Cathal Roarty, Mark Barrins, Michael Forristal, Ross Brennan, Danny Deegan, Jordan Healy.

Replacements: Gearoid Fallon, Ross Brennan, Rob Murray, Eoghan Ryan, Ciaran MacDermott, Cormac Reddin, Thomas Egan, Conor McCann, Arlen King, John Conneely.