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Carolan Excited By New U-20 Squad’s Potential

Carolan Excited By New U-20 Squad’s Potential

Man-of-the-match Johnny McPhillips praised the composure his more inexperienced team-mates showed at Broadwood Stadium to help the Ireland Under-20s clinch a 20-19 win over Scotland on Friday night.

McPhillips and key back rower Cillian Gallagher were the only Irish players involved in the Six Nations opener who already had Under-20 caps under their belts.
However, the team showed good composure to not panic when they went 19-13 down in the second half and into the last 10 minutes out-half McPhillips converted a well-taken try by openside Paul Boyle to give the visitors a hard-earned one-point triumph.
Ulster Academy member McPhillips said: “That was a tough, tough match as Scotland had a big pack and came flying out of the blocks at us, but the team put in a great effort to see us home in the end.
“When you first come into Under-20 rugby it can be quite a shock to the system for some boys because it is a step up from what we are used to. The younger guys were not fazed though and I thought at times we got into a good rhythm and played some good rugby.

“We wanted to play in their half and the pack really dug it out and put in a shift and it was just good that in the last 10 minutes when we had possession we managed to make it count with that try.”

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He added: “There is plenty to build on ahead of the Italy match and a lot to work on, but the great thing from my point of view is that there is so much potential in this group and others knocking on the door for a place and I feel we will only kick on and get better as the Six Nations continues.”
Nigel Carolan, who is in his third U-20 Six Nations campaign as Ireland’s head coach, said: “This was always going to be a really tricky fixture first up and we always find it quite hard in Scotland, so to be heading home with a win is a big tick in the box.

“I thought that the forward pack adjusted well to a tough first 40 minutes after the break and that allowed us to get a bit more territory and bring players like Johnny (McPhillips) into things more.

“The patience the team showed was good. Sometimes young players can panic when they look up at the scoreboard with 10 minutes to go and they are six points down, but they just played the phases and got a good winning try. It is a new group and one that I am excited to be working with.”