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Under-19 Interprovincial Championship: Round 1 Review

Under-19 Interprovincial Championship: Round 1 Review

David Ryan’s 68th-minute penalty was the match winner for the Leinster Under-19s in a fiercely-contested opener against Munster in Cork, while second half tries from Adi Donovan and Ryan Lomas steered Connacht past Ulster in a 48-point thriller. Read on for a full review of the IRFU Under-19 Interprovincial Championship’s opening round.


CONNACHT UNDER-19s 27 ULSTER UNDER-19s 21, the Sportsground
Scorers: Connacht U-19s: Tries: Jack O’Mahony, Adi Donovan, Ryan Lomas; Cons: Diarmuid Codyre 3; Pens: Diarmuid Codyre 2
Ulster U-19s: Tries: Jonny Hunter, David Lyttle, Azur Allison; Cons: Bruce Houston 3

HT: Connacht U-19s 13 Ulster U-19s 21

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Two late tries helped the Connacht Under-19s claim an impressive 27-21 comeback victory over Ulster to make the perfect start to their U-19 Interprovincial campaign on Sunday afternoon.

Trailing 21-13 at the interval, the Ambrose Conboy-coached westerners dominated the second half but were held off by a strong Ulster defence until Galwegians centre Adi Donovan crashed over with 10 minutes remaining.

Diarmuid Codyre’s conversion reduced the deficit to 21-20, but Connacht could sense their opportunity and duly snatched the result late on as a rolling maul rumbled over the line with Buccaneers prop Ryan Lomas grounding the ball. Codyre again added the extras and the hosts withstood a late Ulster surge to cling onto a precious opening round win.

The Ulster U-19s, coached by Willie Anderson, James Topping, Ross Hunter and David Creighton, started much the better of the sides at the Sportsground and it was no surprise when they hit the front on nine minutes through a try from Wallace High School winger Jonny Hunter in the left corner, with the conversion supplied by out-half Bruce Houston, who captained the Ireland U-18 Clubs & Schools team last season.

The Connacht youngsters hit back courtesy of a brilliant Jack O’Mahony try. Centre Luke Fitzgerald – a team-mate of Houston’s in that Ireland U-18 side – played a pivotal role in the score as the left winger was invited to streak clear for a well-taken seven-pointer. Codyre’s superb conversion from the touchline had the teams level at seven points apiece after 15 minutes’ play.

Captained by Corinthians flanker Cian Huxford, Connacht then began to gain the upper hand and took the lead for the first time before the half hour mark via a Codyre penalty. Nonetheless, they were hit by a sucker punch almost immediately as the visitors broke to score their second try.

Galwegians out-half Codyre did well to halt Hunter with an ankle tap but the fast-breaking winger managed to pop the ball up for RBAI centre David Lyttle to scoot over with Houston making it 14-10 with the extra points off the tee.

Connacht again came back strongly and Codyre’s second penalty success reduced the gap to a point, but Ulster countered once again as strong-carrying Ballymena number 8 Azur Allison trundled clear for Ulster’s third try by the posts.

Houston’s third conversion of the afternoon gave Anderson’s charges a 21-13 half-time cushion – only for Connacht to take control in the second half and their hard graft eventually paid off with two decisive tries in the final 10 minutes. They will hope to make home advantage count again next Sunday when they host Munster at the Sportsground (kick-off 2.30pm) – admission is free.

CONNACHT U-19: Hugh Lane (Galwegians); Cillian McCabe (Galwegians), Luke Fitzgerald (Young Munster), Adi Donovan (Galwegians), Jack O’Mahony (Young Munster); Diarmuid Codyre (Galwegians), Colm Reilly (Ballinasloe); Ronan Corless (Galwegians), Dylan Tierney (Corinthians), Ryan Lomas (Buccaneers), Zach Sattar (CBC Monkstown), Niall Murray (Buccaneers), Michael O’Donnell (Galwegians), Cian Huxford (Corinthians) (capt), Pat Howley (Ballina).

Replacements: Danny Arnold (Creggs), Brian Boland (Ballina), Sean Dunne (Lansdowne), Jake Gallagher (Coláiste Iognáid), Morgan O’Brien (Corinthians), Rob Hennessy (Galwegians), Michael Hanley (Buccaneers), Aaron Martyn (Galwegians).

ULSTER U-19: Michael O’Neill (Rainey Old Boys); Mark Thompson (Ballymena Academy), Evan Crummie (Armagh), David Lyttle (Royal Belfast Academical Institution), Jonny Hunter (Wallace High School); Bruce Houston (Ballymena Academy), Callum Harkin (Malone); Jack Walters (Exiles), Claytan Milligan (Down High School) (capt), Paul McGookin (Ballyclare), JJ McKee (Antrim Grammar School), Josh Young (Ballyclare High School), Oisin Jordan (Ballymena Academy), Jamie Macartney (Campbell College), Azur Allison (Ballymena Academy).

Replacements: Neil Saulters (Royal Belfast Academical Institution), Ben Savage (Ballymena Academy), Jack McIntosh (Rainey Old Boys), Matthew Crowther (Campbell College), Ben Heath (Dromore High School), Niall Armstrong (Royal Belfast Academical Institution), Jamie Manderson (Wallace High School), Zach Kerr (Bangor Grammar School).

Referee: Brendan Cuttriss (IRFU)

MUNSTER UNDER-19s 12 LEINSTER UNDER-19s 13, Cork Institute of Technology
Scorers: Munster U-19s: Pens: Jake Flannery 2, Sean French 2
Leinster U-19s: Try: Cormac Foley; Con: David Ryan; Pens: David Ryan 2

HT: Munster U-19s 6 Leinster U-19s 10

St. Gerard’s scrum half Cormac Foley scored the game’s only try and his half-back partner David Ryan kicked the match-winning penalty, 12 minutes from time, as Leinster edged out Munster in a pulsating U-19 Interpro clash at Cork IT.

The Munster youngsters, coached by Colm McMahon, put on the early pressure in the first quarter, forcing mistakes from Leinster and earning penalties for Rockwell College’s Jake Flannery to split the posts after four minutes. Centre Sean French, who was a Munster Schools Senior Cup winner with PBC in March, added a second long range effort for a 6-0 lead.

The Leinster U-19s were living off scraps at this stage as Munster controlled the game through the aggressive work their forwards, who were marshalled by scrum half and captain Craig Casey. They had two tries disallowed, including an effort from loosehead prop Josh Wycherley.

Slowly, the visitors shed their nerves and got into a rhythm in the second quarter to move into the right areas of the pitch. It was from there that Casey’s opposite number Foley created a try out of nothing, beating two defenders to touch down in the 21st minute with centre Ryan’s conversion nudging them in front (7-6).

With their share of territory increasing, Ryan nailed a penalty in the 26th minute to give Leinster a 10-6 advantage at half-time. Munster could have been closer but out-half Flannery missed a penalty opportunity at the other end.

It remained a tight contest when play resumed, the hard work of the home pack creating pressure and Flannery excelled with a well-struck penalty goal from near halfway in the 43rd minute.

McMahon’s side managed to exert their superiority in the scrum and French moved them back in front on the hour mark. He was successful with a second penalty from outside the Leinster 22, after an earlier effort had hit an upright.

However, this was when Leinster showed true grit to soak up more pressure, hold their discipline and counter through a lineout and powerful maul. When Munster could not exit, Leinster forced a penalty for St. Michael’s place-kicker Ryan to hit the 68th minute winner.

“We were glad to go home with the win,” said Leinster team manager Noel McKenna afterwards. “It was a win that was earned out of our defence and the character the boys showed. Munster were very good. They came at us with great intensity.”

The Leinster U-19 had been completely dominant in their pre-competition matches and paid the price for those easy wins (over Worcester and Bath) in the sense that Munster looked more battle-hardened. Coaches Andy Wood and Simon Broughton will not have to go back to the drawing board. But, they will drill down on where Leinster have to improve for Ulster at Donnybrook next Saturday (kick-off 2.30pm).

McKenna added: “I just think the boys will go back to do what we have been working on in training which is doing the simple things well. We are disappointed with the amount of mistakes we made. We know what we have to work on. We’ll have to go back to basics against Ulster, do the simple things well. Once we do that, we know we can create chances.”

MUNSTER U-19: James McCarthy (Irish Exile/Wales); Conor Phillips (Crescent College Comprehensive), Sean French (PBC), Kieran Dunne (St. Ambrose College/Irish Exiles), Jonathan Wren (PBC); Jake Flannery (Rockwell College), Craig Casey ((Ardscoil Rís) (capt); Josh Wycherley (Roscrea College), John Hodnett (Clonakilty RFC), Luke Masters (CBC), Luke Clohessy (Ardscoil Rís), Paddy Kelly (St. Munchin’s College), David Hyland (PBC), Daniel Feasy (Crescent College), Colin Deane (Bandon Grammar School).

Replacements: Billy Scannell (PBC), Travis Coomey (Bandon Grammar School), Ashley Deane (Bandon Grammar School), Roy Whelan (Ardscoil Rís), Cian Hurley (CBC), Colin Sisk (CBC), Harry Byrne (Garryowen FC), Ikem Ugwueru (Ennis RFC).

LEINSTER U-19: Robert Russell (St. Michael’s College); Jeff O’Loughlin (St. Michael’s College), Liam Turner (Blackrock College), David Ryan (St. Michael’s College), Ruairi Shields (St. Mary’s College); David Hawkshaw (Belvedere College) (capt), Cormac Foley (St. Gerard’s School); Niall McEniff (St. Mary’s College), Richard Bergin (St. Mary’s College), Michael Milne (Cistercian College Roscrea); Adam Melia (Terenure College), Ryan Baird (St. Michael’s College), Reuben Pim (Kilkenny College), Scott Penny (St. Michael’s College), Ruadhan Byron (Belvedere College).

Replacements: Declan Adamson (St. Fintan’s High School), Abdel-Aziz Naser (St. Fintan’s High School), Conan Dunne (Kilkenny RFC), Ronan Watters (St. Mary’s College), Dan O’Donovan (St. Michael’s College), Hugo Lennox (Skerries RFC), Conor Kelly (Cistercian College Roscrea), Brian O’Donnell (Gonzaga College).

Referee: Ben Carson (IRFU)


Saturday, September 9 –

LEINSTER U-19s (2nd) v ULSTER U-19s (4th), Donnybrook, 2.30pm

Sunday, September 10 –

CONNACHT U-19s (1st) v MUNSTER U-19s (3rd), the Sportsground, 2.30pm