The Ireland Under-18 Clubs team ran in eight tries in a convincing performance in Berlin on Saturday, emerging as 54-0 winners over the Germany Under-18s.
In the first of their three International matches – they play England at Ashbourne on Sunday, April 10 and France in Quimper on Saturday, April 17 – the young Ireland Clubs side outplayed their German hosts.
Centre Thomas Daly scored 14 points in all, kicking two early penalties and converting four of Ireland’s eight tries.
Right from the kick-off, in sunny but cold conditions, the Irish team made their intentions clear as they gained early possession and pressurised the German defensive line.
Twice, English referee Claire Daniels penalised the under pressure home side at the breakdown, enabling Daly to open the Irish account with two successful penalties.
Despite an early injury to scrum half Finbarr McGowan, who was replaced by Eoin Stynes, the Irish side continued to dominate both territory and possession.
The strong Irish scrum, with front rowers Ryan Furniss, George McGuigan and Peter Dooley in outstanding form, ensured good quality ball for their strong running back-line.
Ireland were also in control in the lineout where Ultan Dillane and Eoghan Masterson dominated. It was from good lineout ball that the visitors scored their first try.
The ball was moved wide to winger Tom Flynn who scored the opening try of the match in the right hand corner.
From the restart Ireland secured good possession and Liam Bourke chipped ahead and then regathered the ball. He off loaded to loosehead prop Dooley whose driving run took play close to the German line.
Blindside flanker Conor Joyce, who had a strong ball-carrying game, picked up from the base of the ruck to drive over for Ireland’s second try.
The Ireland back-three of Conor Fitzgibbon, David Panter and Flynn counter-attacked with pace and purpose at every opportunity.
From one such attack, Masterson scored the final try of the half which was converted by Daly to leave Ireland with a comfortable but fully-deserved 23-0 half-time lead.
There was no respite for the hosts as from the opening scrum of the second half, number 8 Masterson broke blind and fed replacement scrum half Stynes who dummied his way over to score a fine individual try. Daly added the extras.
Ireland replaced both props with Jamie Dever and Josh O’Rourke being introduced and full-back Panter, who came off with a slight injury, was replaced by Adam Byrne.
Following another successful lineout, Ireland showed good continuity involving both backs and forwards as they continued to exploit gaps in the German defence.
From a ruck, the ball was moved blind to the ever dangerous Fitzgibbon and he dotted down in the corner.
With 20 minutes to go, Ireland introduced Kieran Butler, Cillian Walsh, Cronan Gleeson and Dave O’Connell in place of Bourke, McGuigan, Akhlaque Khan and Sean O’Brien.
A powerful surge by replacement prop Dever saw him score close to the posts and Daly added the conversion.
Replacement centre Butler then cut a good line to run in unopposed from the 22. Once again Daly added the conversion.
The final try was scored by centre Conall Doherty, following a strong run and good offload by Masterson. That stretched the margin to 54-0 in the visitors’ favour, much to the delight of a small but happy crowd of Ireland supporters.
It was a satisfying first outing for this young Ireland squad but they are well aware that much sterner tests lie ahead as they prepare to face both England and France in the coming weeks.
IRELAND UNDER-18 CLUBS Team & Replacements (v Germany Under-18s, U-18 International Match, SC Berliner, Saturday, March 27, kick-off 2pm local time/1pm Irish time):
15 – David Panter (St. Paul’s Coll/London Irish/Exiles)
14 – Tom Flynn (Epsom Coll/Cobham RFC/Exiles)
13 – Conall Doherty (City of Derry/Ulster)
12 – Thomas Daly (County Carlow/Leinster)
11 – Conor Fitzgibbon (Buccaneers/Connacht)
10 – Liam Bourke (Navan/Leinster)
9 – Finbarr McGowan (Longford/Leinster)
1 – Peter Dooley (Birr/Leinster)
2 – George McGuigan (Gosforth Academy/Newcastle Falcons/Exiles)
3 – Ryan Furniss (Worcester Coll/Worcester Warriors/Exiles)
4 – Sean O’Brien (Galwegians/Connacht)
5 – Ultan Dillane (Tralee/Munster)
6 – Conor Joyce (Solihull Sch/Leicester Tigers/Exiles)
7 – Akhlaque Khan (Navan/Leinster)
8 – Eoghan Masterson (Portlaoise/Leinster)
16 – Jamie Dever (Westport/Connacht)
17 – Josh O’Rourke (De La Salle Palmerston/Leinster)
18 – Cillian Walsh (Killarney/Munster)
19 – David O’Connell (Old Christians/Munster)
20 – Cronan Gleeson (Nenagh Ormond/Munster)
21 – Eoin Stynes (County Carlow/Leinster)
22 – Kieran Butler (New Ross/Leinster)
23 – Adam Byrne (Naas/Leinster)
Ireland Management Team:
Willie Gribben – Manager
Greg Lynch – Head Coach
Jimmy Duffy – Assistant Coach (Forwards)
Wayne Mitchell – Assistant Coach (Backs)
Joe McGinley – Conditioning Coach
Brett Igoe – Video Analyst
David Hanly – Physiotherapist
John Quinlan – Doctor
Tom Nyhan – Team Assistant