The Ireland Under-20s, sponsored by PwC, had their first run-out of the festive season in a training game against a Leinster Development XV at Donnybrook earlier today.
IRELAND UNDER-20 TRAINING MATCH: Wednesday, December 21
IRELAND UNDER-20s 26 LEINSTER DEVELOPMENT XV 57, Donnybrook
Scorers: Ireland U-20s: Tries: Calvin Nash, Gavin Coombes, Peadar Collins, Rory Mulvihill; Cons: Conor Fitzgerald, Luke Carty 2
Leinster Development XV: Tries: Ronan Foley 3, Caelan Doris, Richie Halpin, Thomas O’Callaghan, Tommy O’Brien, Marc O’Keefe, Richard Dunne; Cons: Conor Dean 6
HT: Ireland U-20s 12 Leinster Development XV 12
Apart from a couple of injuries, it was a positive maiden outing for Nigel Carolan’s Ireland Under-20 training squad with a number of the U-20 hopefuls, including St. Mary’s duo Caelan Doris and Conor Dean, also lining out in the blue of Leinster.
The is the first of two training games that the Ireland U-20s will be playing, with a Munster Development XV providing the opposition at Thomond Park on Thursday, December 29.
Carolan’s youngsters held a good deal of territory in the first half but their Leinster opponents performed well in defence and Clontarf duo Jack Power and Conor O’Brien carried the ball effectively out of the danger zone at times.
Ireland U-20 out-half Conor Fitzgerald opted for touch from an early 25-metre penalty, but even though they could not unlock the Leinster defence on this occasion, they eventually broke the deadlock with a 16th minute try from centre Calvin Nash after an initial surge from his Munster compatriot Daniel Hurley.
Shannon clubman Fitzgerald converted to open up a seven-point lead, but Leinster were level by the 25-minute mark, impressive number 8 Doris touching down following a series of powerful drives from the province’s pack. Out-half Dean comfortably added the conversion.
Doris’ opposite number Gavin Coombes joined his Young Munster and Munster Academy colleague Nash on the scoresheet when finishing off Ireland’s next try via a five-metre scrum.
That score was unconverted and so too was Leinster’s response, the province hitting back in the final minute of the opening half when hooker Richie Halpin reached over from a well-executed lineout maul to make it 12-all.
The lack of game-time together caught up with the Ireland U-20s in the second period as the Leinster Development outfit managed to pull clear on the scoreboard.
Winger Thomas O’Callaghan restarted the scoring with a well-taken try, which the reliable Dean converted, and centre Tommy O’Brien – a regular scorer of late for UCD in the Ulster Bank League – quickly added Leinster’s fourth try after opting to run a penalty.
Right winger Marc O’Keefe, another player with recent Division 1A experience in the colours of Lansdowne, was the next player over the Ireland U-20 whitewash, sidestepping a number of challenges to score on the right with 55 minutes on the clock.
Colm Mulcahy’s wayward pass was seized upon by Ireland U-20 replacement Peadar Collins from Garryowen who broke free for an intercept try, but a brace from UCD winger Ronan Foley, including a robust finish 17 minutes from time, kept Leinster well in front.
The Ireland Under-20s did add a fourth try through replacement prop Rory Mulvihill, converted by Buccaneers’ Luke Carty (younger brother of Connacht star Jack Carty), with the forwards enjoying some cohesive spells with ball in hand.
However, Leinster had most of the attacking momentum late on and after Trinity flanker Richard Dunne squeezed through for another try in the 74th minute, the fast-finishing Foley had the last word with his third try in just over half-an-hour.
IRELAND U-20: Robert Lyttle (Queen’s University/Ulster); Daniel Hurley (Garryowen/Munster), Calvin Nash (Munster/Young Munster), Rory Butler (Ballymena/Ulster), Liam Coombes (Garryowen/Munster); Conor Fitzgerald (Shannon/Munster), Jonny Stewart (Queen’s University/Ulster); Joey Conway (UL Bohemians/Munster), Tadgh McElroy (Lansdowne/Leinster), Peter Cooper (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Fineen Wycherley (Young Munster/Munster), Cillian Gallagher (Sligo/Connacht), Paul Boyle (Lansdowne/Leinster), Barry Fitzpatrick (Lansdowne/Leinster), Gavin Coombes (Young Munster/Munster).
Replacements used: Ciaran Frawley (UCD/Leinster) for Butler (17 mins), Peadar Collins (Garryowen/Munster) for Nash (27), Nash for Hurley (40), Hurley for Collins, Charlie Connolly (Dublin University/Leinster) for Cooper (both half-time), Collins for Hurley (48), Shane O’Hehir (Sligo/Connacht) for McElroy, Rory Mulvihill (UCD/Leinster) for Conway, Simon Meagher (Roscrea/Connacht) for G Coombes, Jack Stafford (Shannon/Munster) for Stewart, Luke Carty (Buccaneers/Connacht) for Fitzgerald (all 52), Oisin Dowling (Lansdowne/Leinster) for Gallagher (64), Stewart for Collins (76).
LEINSTER DEVELOPMENT XV: Jack Power (Clontarf); Marc O’Keefe (Lansdowne), Conor O’Brien (Clontarf), Tommy O’Brien (UCD), Thomas O’Callaghan (Lansdowne); Conor Dean (St. Mary’s College), Nick Peters (UCD); Greg McGrath (Lansdowne), Richie Halpin (St. Mary’s College), Martin Mulhall (Lansdowne), Cormac Daly (Navan), Jack Regan (UCD); Richard Dunne (Dublin University), Tom de Jongh (Old Belvedere), Caelan Doris (St. Mary’s College).
Replacements used: Colm Mulcahy (UCD) for C O’Brien (40 mins), Jordan Duggan (Naas) for Mulhall, JJ O’Dea (Navan) for Dunne, David O’Connor (St. Mary’s College) for Daly (all half-time), Ronan Foley (UCD) for O’Callaghan (48), Vakh Abdaladze (Clontarf) for McGrath (52), Conor Johnson (Naas) for Halpin, Darragh Sweeney (Malahide) for Peters (both 55), O’Callaghan for T O’Brien (58), Dunne for de Jongh (67), McGrath for Duggan (71).
Referee: Sean Gallagher (IRFU)