There were encouraging signs for the Ireland Under-19s on Wednesday as David O’Mahony scored all of their points, including a decisive 65th minute try, in a hard-earned 13-10 victory in the first of a two-match series against France.
Ireland U-19 head coach Peter Malone was full of praise for the role that full-back David O’Mahony played in his side’s triumph at Marcoussis, but was also quick to acknowledge the influence of the industrious Irish pack.
“Yeah, he (O’Mahony) took his points well. He took his try well. I think the forwards really gave him a good platform for that try. We went through a few phases, and our number 8 Max Deegan released him with a nice pass for the finish, and then he kicked his goals well,” remarked Malone.
“He contributed well, but certainly the forwards gave him a platform. I think he got a penalty off a scrum. We worked a nice opportunity for him in our 22, but he took every kick and he kicked a nice conversion for that try (from wide out on the left).”
With their second and final encounter with France taking place on Saturday (kick-off 7pm local time/6pm Irish time), it will be a relatively short turnaround for the Ireland U-19s. Their only absentee is flanker Conall Boomer who was withdrawn due to concussion during the first half of the midweek match.
Speaking about selecting the team for Saturday, Malone admitted: “I think with the turnaround, we’ll have to make a few changes. It wouldn’t be best to put the same team out again from a Wednesday to Saturday. We’ll be looking at a few changes certainly. I think it is good when you’re playing two games over four days to freshen up.
“Also, we trust the players. We’ve 26 good players there. We trust the players, we trust the whole group that we’ll put in different guys who are able to handle the game from the start as well.”
The Limerick man, who is Munster’s Elite Player Development Manager, is expecting a different challenge from a motivated French side on Saturday and with this in mind, he feels that there are areas his Ireland charges will need to improve on.
“I think it will be something different. You would expect a reaction when a proud rugby country like France loses at home. They’ll identify what they saw as weaknesses on Wednesday, as we will do with them.
“I’d be hopeful that we can up our performance another 15% again from where we were on Wednesday. Having reviewed the game (yesterday) with the lads, there’s lot of areas we can improve on as well. It’s important that we’re that bit better again on Saturday night,” he added.