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Munster U-20/Development Side Triumph Thanks To Four-Try Second Half

Munster U-20/Development Side Triumph Thanks To Four-Try Second Half

Second half tries from Kevin O’Byrne, Shane Daly, Sean Duffy and Gavin Coombes catapulted the Munster Under-20/Development team to a hard-earned 29-21 victory over their Ulster counterparts at Thomond Park on Friday.


Scorers: Munster: Tries: Kevin O’Byrne, Shane Daly, Sean Duffy, Gavin Coombes; Cons: David Johnston 3; Pen: Conor Fitzgerald
Ulster: Tries; Rory Butler, Jonny Stewart; Cons: Michael Lowry; Pens: Michael Lowry 2, Callum Smith

HT: Munster 3 Ulster 13

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Both provinces will take positives from this keenly-contested game in Limerick, fast-starting Ulster battling to hold onto their lead until Munster, whose strong bench had a big impact, swooped in to secure a late win for the home side.

The Ulster youngsters were ultra physical right from the off, with eager lock Matthew Dalton setting the tone by bundling a player into touch from the kick-off. Possession was retained from the first-minute lineout where Ballynahinch centre Rory Butler took a flat pass from captain Jonny Stewart, splitting the Munster defence and then rounding the last defender for a fine individual try, wide on the left. Stewart’s half-back partner Michael Lowry added the conversion.

Ulster continued to stop the big Munster forwards in their tracks, with the likes of Dalton, Tom O’Toole, Aaron Hall and Jack Regan to the fore. Lowry landed a seventh minute penalty to make it 10-0, before Munster – against the run of play – replied off the tee through Ireland Under-20 out-half Conor Fitzgerald.

Ulster continued to press and look the more dangerous side although the Munstermen were coming more into the game. The visitors missed two kickable penalties in the next 15 minutes, one of them bouncing away off the post. It was third time lucky in the 33rd minute when Lowry fired over his second successful penalty for a 13-3 half-time scoreline. Munster attacked hard in the closing stages, carrying strongly up the channels, but Ulster’s defence held firm.

The hosts wheeled on some more bulk and experience for the start of the second half, with 26-year-old hooker Kevin O’Byrne and back rower Gavin Coombes both entering the fray. There was some disruption to the Ulster side through injury and tactical replacements, impressive schools centre Stewart Moore being one of the players forced off.

Crucially, Munster seized their opportunity to notch two quick-fire tries through O’Byrne and fellow replacement Shane Daly after 53 and 55 minutes respectively. The latter score was converted by Garryowen’s David Johnston who was another influential replacement on the night.

However, Ulster steadied the ship and refused to be bullied by the powerful Munster pack, retaking the lead via a Callum Smith penalty in the 61st minute. The next 15 minutes were evenly contested with both defences holding firm.

Indeed, it was Ulster who broke the deadlock in the 75th minute after 15-plus phases with forwards and backs probing and testing the Munster defence until eventually Butler broke and following quickly recycled ball, captain Stewart scampered over midway out. The conversion bounced off the upright, leaving it 21-15 to the visitors.

Munster won possession from the restart, though, and after multiple phases of play, Cork Constitution number 8 Sean Duffy forced his way over close to the posts, with Johnston’s conversion handing the home side a one-point lead with less than two minutes remaining.

Possession was vital from the restart again, and it was Munster who held onto it, leaving their Ulster counterparts desperately attempting to turn the ball over. The men in red remained calm and composed in possession, and with the Ulster defence losing shape in their attempts to retrieve the ball, there was enough of a gap for Coombes to add a fourth and final try right at the death, the extras added again by Johnston for an eight-point margin in the end.

MUNSTER U-20/DEVELOPMENT XV: Jack Power (Clontarf); Calvin Nash (Young Munster), Alex McHenry (Cork Constitution), Peter Sylvester (PBC), Liam Coombes (Garryowen); Conor Fitzgerald (Shannon), Jack Stafford (Shannon); Joe Conway (UL Bohemians), Vincent O’Brien (Cork Constitution), Bryan O’Connor (UCC), Sean McCarthy (Shannon), Conor O’Flynn (UCD), Ronan Coffey (Shannon) (capt), Jack Daly (Garryowen), Sean Duffy (Cork Constitution).

Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne (Cork Constitution), Mark Bromell (Bruff), Rob O’Donovan (UCC), Gavin Coombes (Young Munster), Tom Ryan (Young Munster), John Poland (UCC), Shane Daly (Cork Constitution), Dave Johnston (Garryowen).

ULSTER U-20/DEVELOPMENT XV: Conor Kelly (Queen’s University); Angus Kernohan (Ballymena), Stewart Moore (Ballymena Academy), Rory Butler (Ballynahinch), Robert Balacoune (Enniskillen); Michael Lowry (Banbridge), Johnny Stewart (Queen’s University) (capt); Tommy O’Hagan (Rainey Old Boys), Alexander Clarke (Queen’s University), Tom O’Toole (Banbridge). Jack Regan (Banbridge), Matthew Dalton (Malone), Aaron Hall (Ballynahinch), Matthew Agnew (Ballymena), Joe Dunleavey (Malone).

Replacements: Zack McCall (Ballynahinch), Eric O’Sullivan (Banbridge), Josh Bill (Ballymena), Peter Cooper (Malone), John McCusker (Rainey Old Boys), Greg Jones (Banbridge), Zac Ward (tbc), Michael Strong (Ballymena).

Referee: Kieran Barry (IRFU)