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Grand Slam Glory For Ulster Under-20s

Grand Slam Glory For Ulster Under-20s

The Ulster Under-20s secured a famous Grand Slam in the IRFU Under-20 Interprovincial Championship as they got the better of hosts Munster in the final round. Meanwhile, Leinster finished the tournament on a high with a bonus point win away to Connacht.



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MUNSTER U-20s 9 ULSTER U-20s 18, Musgrave Park

Scorers: Munster U-20s: Pens: Brian Haugh 3
Ulster U-20s: Tries: John Donnan, Mark Best; Con: Stuart Olding; Pens: Stuart Olding 2

The IRFU Under-20 Interprovincial Championship trophy is heading north after Ulster completed a three-match winning streak at Musgrave Park to become Grand Slam champions.

The Ulster youngsters outscored their Munster hosts by two tries to none as they ended the province’s eight-year wait for an Interpro title at this level.

With Leinster having defeated Connacht earlier in the day, the Munster Under-20s knew that they had to win by at least 38 points if they were to be crowned champions, while a draw would have been enough to give Ulster the crown.

Munster started as if they meant business and took the game to Ulster with out-half Tom Kiersey putting some probing kicks behind the Ulster defence. Harry McNulty was also posing problems for the visitors’ defence with some telling runs.

Brian Haugh put Munster ahead with a penalty after four minutes but some silly errors by the home side allowed Ulster back into the game and they took full advantage and scored the first of their two tries 14 minutes in.

Munster were penalised on the halfway line in a scrum and Ulster kicked for touch five metres from the line. Second row John Donnan, who plays for the late Nevin Spence’s club Ballynahinch, won the lineout and a well-executed maul drive got him over for a 5-3 lead.

Munster hit back immediately and a second Haugh penalty made it 6-5, but Ulster out-half Stuart Olding, an Ireland Under-20 international who has impressed throughout the Championship, restored their advantage with a penalty nine minutes before the break.

Munster started the second half in search of a try with Kiersey directing operations. However, once Ulster withstood the early onslaught, the home side were on the back foot for the remainder of the match with Olding and full-back Rory Scholes posing numerous problems.

Olding increased his side’s advantage with a 50th minute penalty when Munster were penalised yet again for a scrum infringement. A long range effort by Haugh left it 11-9 with just over 20 minutes remaining.

Terry McMaster’s well-drilled side continued to apply the pressure and they were rewarded with a second try with 13 minutes left.

Replacement centre Mark Best touched down after several drives at the line by the visitors’ pack and Olding’s conversion widened the margin to nine points.

MUNSTER U-20s: Darren Sweetnam (Bandon Grammar School); Rob Jermyn (Midleton), Harry McNulty (Dublin University), Rory Scannell (Dolphin), Adrian Enright (Abbeyfeale); Tom Kiersey (Waterpark), Brian Haugh (Young Munster); Niall Horan (Crescent Comprehensive), Will Foley (Dolphin), Brian Scott (UCC), Sean McCarthy (Shannon), John Madigan (Charleville), Jack O’Donoghue (UL Bohemians), Darren Ryan (Young Munster), John Fitzgerald (PBC) (capt).

Replacements used: Jamie Kind (Dolphin) for Madigan, Dave O’Connell (UCC) for Fitzgerald (both 49 mins), Shane O’Leary (Young Munster) for Kiersey (63), Dave Hartnett (PBC) for Scott (68), Max Abbott (PBC) for Foley, Ben Nugent (UCC) for Haugh (both 71), James McInerney (Garryowen) for Enright (74), Cian O’Donnell (Cashel) for Horan (76).

ULSTER U-20s: Rory Scholes (Belfast Harlequins); Ross Adair (Sullivan US), Ryan Martin (Northumbria University), Chris Farrell (Dungannon), David Busby (Portadown College); Stuart Olding (Belfast Harlequins), John Creighton (Malone) (capt); Jake Caulfield (Irish Exiles), John Andrew (Ballymena), Chris Taylor (Malone), John Donnan (Ballynahinch), Matthew Rea (Ballymena Academy), Conor Joyce (Malone), Stuart Hooks (RS Armagh), Ben Alexander (Royal Belfast Academical Institution).

Replacements used: Mark Best (Campbell College) for Farrell (33 mins), Grant Bartley (Ballyclare HS) for Hooks (half-time), Sam McNabney (Ballymena Academy) for Taylor (74), Norman Sinclair (Queen’s University) for Andrews, Jonny Craig (Ballyclare HS) for Caulfield, Matthew Keane (Royal Belfast Academical Institution) for Creighton, Niall Martin (Ballymena) for R Martin (all 79).

Referee: Sean Gallagher (IRFU)

CONNACHT U-20s 10 LEINSTER U-20s 48, the Sportsground

Scorers: Connacht U-20s: Try: Darragh Leader; Con: Darragh Leader; Pen: Darragh Leader
Leinster U-20s: Tries: David Shanahan, Tom Farrell 2, Jack Fitzpatrick, Gavin Thornbury, Peadar Timmins; Cons: Tom Daly 3; Pens: Tom Daly 4

The Leinster Under-20s ran out comprehensive bonus point winners over last year’s champions Connacht in their final round clash at the Sportsground.

Girvan Dempsey’s Leinster outfit showed a distinct improvement from the Ulster match to resist a physical Munster 26-12 at Donnybrook last Friday.

And the improvement in their form continued in Galway as Connacht, who previously gave Ulster and Munster plenty of trouble, were blown away as Dempsey’s charges secured a second place finish overall.

Leinster got out to a quick start, helped by centre Tom Daly’s first three-pointer in the third minute. Scrum half David Shanahan then took advantage of a hole in the westerners’ defence to run in his third try in as many matches.

Daly converted and the fast start enabled Leinster’s confidence to rise. While all the passes were not sticking, centre Tom Farrell was able to finish the first of his two tries in the 16th minute.

Daly made up for the failed conversion with another penalty to keep the points ticking over. Connacht out-half Darragh Leader was doing all he could to stem the tide, his 34th minute penalty putting the home side on the scoreboard.

Leinster upped the tempo with two tries in four minutes just before the break to secure the bonus point they so badly needed to give them a shot at the Championship title.

The first was instigated by a swift team movement with winger Max McFarland and flanker Dan Leavy central to putting full-back Jack Fitzpatrick in at the corner. Moments later, Leinster Academy lock Gavin Thornbury surged over near the posts for Daly to add the extras for a 30-3 half-time lead.

The visitors were clinical to the extent that Daly was content to take a 43rd minute penalty when others would have gone for the corner and lineout even though the game was safely stowed away.

Centre Farrell stole in for his second try before number 8 Peadar Timmins coolly made the most of a stunning attack from halfway instigated by a clever inside pass from out-half Bobby Holland. Daly kicked the conversion.

Connacht offered consistent resistance from out-half Leader, former Blackrock College centre Mark Roche, lock Ultan Dillane and their captain and number 8 Sean O’Brien, still a schoolboy at Cistercian College Roscrea.

They found some measure of reward through Leader’s 66th-minute try into the right corner which he converted himself.

It was left to Daly to dispatch his fourth penalty and complete his 18-point haul in Leinster’s best performance of the Championship.

Connacht’s stubborn streak was not enough as the Leinster pack of forwards found their stride, Leavy turning over ball at will, front row twins Edward, the captain, and Bryan Byrne carrying strongly and Jerry Sexton featuring prominently.

Speaking afterwards, Leinster team manager Tony O’Beirne said: “We were very pleased with the way the lads played tonight. This is a difficult place to come to as a lot of Leinster teams have found to their cost in the past.

“We managed to play very well and win convincingly. We needed the bonus point and we got it. It was great to finish the Championship in that manner.”

CONNACHT U-20s: Conor Joyce (Westport); Alex O’Meara (Irish Exiles), Mark Roche (Lansdowne), Conor Fitzgibbon (Buccaneers), Phil O’Neill (Newbridge); Darragh Leader (Galwegians), Barry Digby (Buccaneers); Adam Boland (Lansdowne), Jason Connolly (Monivea), Jamie Dever (Corinthians), Mick Mannion (IT Carlow), Ultan Dillane (Corinthians), Aidan Connaughton (Buccaneers), Paul Maxwell (Buccaneers), Sean O’Brien (Galwegians) (capt).

Replacements used: Cathal Murtagh (Newbridge) for Digby (30 mins), Luke Satchwell (Buccaneers) for Connaughton (55), David Heath (Galwegians) for Mannion (61), Niall Fitzgerald (Shannon) for Connolly, Aodhan Glynn (Corinthians) for Boland, Saba Meunargia (Buccaneers) for Dever (all 73), Ross Keller (Ballinasloe) for Fitzgibbon, Ryan Sheridan (Buccaneers) for O’Neill (both 75).

LEINSTER U-20s: Jack Fitzpatrick (Dublin University); Max McFarland (Dublin University), Tom Farrell (Lansdowne), Tom Daly (Lansdowne), Rory O’Loughlin (St. Michael’s College); Bobby Holland (UCD), David Shanahan (Clontarf); Ed Byrne (UCD) (capt), Bryan Byrne (UCD), Jamie Lawless (Old Belvedere), Jerry Sexton (St. Mary’s College), Gavin Thornbury (Dublin University), Dan Leavy (UCD), Josh van der Flier (UCD), Peadar Timmins (UCD).

Replacements used: Eoghan Quinn (Lansdowne) for Farrell, Ross Deacon (Lansdowne) for Sexton (both 58 mins), Liam Burke (UCD) for Holland, Conor Kilcoyne (Blackrock College) for B Byrne (both 60), Ken Murphy (Old Belvedere) for E Byrne (62), Donagh Lawler (UCD) for Leavy (65).

Referee: Kieran Barry (IRFU)