The Ireland Under-20s continued their build-up to next month’s World Rugby U-20 Championship in Georgia with a valuable run-out against a Munster Development side at Thomond Park today. The provincial outfit, who included some current and former Ireland U-20 players, won 15-10 in the end.
WORLD RUGBY U-20 CHAMPIONSHIP WARM-UP MATCH: Saturday, May 13
MUNSTER DEVELOPMENT XV 15 IRELAND UNDER-20 XV 10, Thomond Park
Scorers: Munster Development: Tries: Liam O’Connor, Adam Moloney; Con: Alan Tynan; Pen: Alan Tynan
Ireland Under-20s: Tries: Colm Hogan, Cormac Daly
HT: Munster Development 12 Ireland Under-20s 5
A number of Munster representatives lined out against provincial colleagues, while one notable addition to the largely emerging Munster team saw Leinster’s James Ryan start in the second row – the provinces working together as last year’s Ireland Under-20 captain sought some game-time post injury.
The Munster Development side dominated all of the early possession and held the upper hand at set piece, with a number of lineout steals and excellent yardage through the phases.
Last-ditch defence from the Ireland Under-20s kept Colm McMahon’s young charges at bay in their initial visits to the opposition 22, but there would be no stopping Academy prop Liam O’Connor as he barged over on 15 minutes after clinical work from Munster in the maul and phases. Young Munster out-half Alan Tynan slotted over the conversion.
Barely five minutes later, the Ireland Under-20s, who have Peter Malone as their interim head coach following Nigel Carolan’s move into the Connacht senior coaching set-up, got off the mark after an excellent solo break from the Munster sub-Academy’s Colm Hogan.
Hitting the gap from well inside his own half, full-back Hogan jinked beautifully inside and outside the cover defence, and by the time the tackle came, the Dublin University clubman’s momentum was enough to carry him over the line. Conor Fitzgerald, another Munster sub-Academy representative, pushed the conversion to the left of the posts.
By the half hour mark, Munster had restored their advantage with continued dominance in the maul. Shannon’s Adam Moloney, who was capped twice by Ireland during the recent U-20 Six Nations, touched down off a textbook drive. Tynan sent his conversion attempt off to the right.
Garryowen’s Dave McCarthy, who impressed for the Ireland U-19s last month, and O’Connor were unlucky not to extend the hosts’ lead after crossing the try-line before the interval – the former held up and the latter knocking on – and Munster headed for the dressing rooms with a 12-5 lead.
The Munstermen looked to have made a dream start upon the resumption, Cork Constitution’s Ross O’Neill capitalising on an Ireland knock-on and crossing at close range. However, referee Robert O’Sullivan refused Munster the advantage and the chance went a-begging when they conceded a penalty off the subsequent scrum.
Instead, it was the Ireland U-20s who drew first blood in the second half, giving the province a taste of their own medicine via the maul. Navan’s Cormac Daly was credited with the score and fellow replacement Conor Dean’s missed conversion meant the deficit was down to just two points approaching the final quarter.
Applying most of the pressure, the Munster Development side’s efforts were rewarded when Tynan landed a long range penalty and when the Ireland U-20s managed to get a foothold in opposition territory, turnovers in the lineout, on the ground and at maul time halted their progress as the hosts held on for a deserved 15-10 victory.
MUNSTER DEVELOPMENT XV: Tom McHale (Young Munster); Peadar Collins (Garryowen), Sam Arnold (capt), Dave McCarthy (Garryowen), Jack Harrington (Young Munster); Alan Tynan (Young Munster), Jack Lyons (Young Munster); Liam O’Connor, Adam Moloney (Shannon), James Kendrick (UCC), Sean O’Connor, James Ryan, Mikey Wilson (Garryowen), Ross O’Neill (Cork Constitution), Bailey Faloon (Garryowen).
Replacements: Diarmuid Barron (Garryowen), Jordan Duggan (Naas), Colm Skehan (Young Munster), Barra O’Byrne (Garryowen), Conor O’Flynn (UCD), Tom Ryan (Dublin University), Jack Stafford (Shannon), James O’Connor (Young Munster), Liam O’Connell (Cork Constitution).
IRELAND UNDER-20 XV: Colm Hogan; Mark Keane, Gavin Mullin, Ciaran Frawley, Calvin Nash; Conor Fitzgerald, Jonny Stewart; Joey Conway, Tadgh McElroy, Charlie Connolly, Jack O’Regan, Fineen Wycherley, Marcus Rea, Paul Boyle, Gavin Coombes.
Replacements: Ronan Kelleher, Greg McGrath, Peter Cooper, Cormac Daly, Sean Masterson, Ryan Feehily, Conor Dean, Sean O’Brien, Liam Coombes, Rory Mulvihill.
Referee: Robert O’Sullivan (IRFU)