The IRFU Under-19 Interprovincial Championship comes to an exciting conclusion this weekend, with leaders Leinster, who have nine points, looking to complete a clean sweep of wins in Belfast, but both Munster (six points) and Ulster (five points) are still in contention for the title.
IRFU UNDER-19 INTERPROVINCIAL CHAMPIONSHIP – ROUND 2: Saturday, September 8
LEINSTER UNDER-19s 24 MUNSTER UNDER-19s 21, Energia Park, Donnybrook
Scorers: Leinster U-19s: Tries: Luis Faria, Mark Nicholson, Ryan McMahon; Cons: David Fitzgibbon 3; Pen: David Fitzgibbon
Munster U-19s: Tries: Eoin Quilter, Ciaran Ryan; Con: Ben Daly; Pens: Ben Daly 3
HT: Leinster 14 Munster 11
Replacement prop Ryan McMahon crashed over for the match-winning try, six minutes from time, as the Leinster Under-19s made it two wins out of two with a hard-earned 24-21 defeat of Munster at Energia Park last Saturday afternoon.
The lead changed hands on five occasions with Clongowes Wood front rower McMahon profiting from an overthrown Munster lineout to strike for the game’s decisive try, Leinster’s third on the day and eighth of the tournament so far. Forwards Eoin Quilter and Ciaran Ryan both touched down for the visitors, who had an 11-point haul from goal-kicker Ben Daly.
Munster made the early headway but it was Leinster who claimed the opening score in the sixth minute, the fast-breaking Matthew Jungmann being hauled down short by Ronan Quinn before Jungmann’s Newpark Comprehensive school-mate Luis Faria used the space on the short side to touch down in the right corner. David Fitzgibbon’s brilliant strike off the tee made it 7-0.
Colm McMahon’s Munster side knuckled down and won penalties in the 14th and 17th minutes which Daly slotted over, their captain Tommy Downes and out-half Daly also growing in influence in terms of their direct running in midfield. Number 8 Alex Kendellen was also standing out in the forward exchanges.
Nippy winger Quinn’s chase of a Charlie O’Doherty chip produced an attacking lineout from Munster and although their maul was thwarted, second row Quilter managed to get the ball down for a 22nd minute try and a 11-7 lead. It was end-to-end stuff, though, as Leinster quickly came back downfield with a Fitzgibbon penalty effort narrowly going wide.
Nonetheless, Andy Wood’s charges gained crucial momentum either side of half-time. Cian Prendergast’s well-won lineout set up a maul from which Wicklow hooker Mark Nicholson crossed for a 14-11 advantage at the break. Leinster number 10 Fitzgibbon kept the scoreboard moving with a penalty three minutes after the restart.
Quinn, last season’s Ireland Under-18 Sevens captain, was fizzing with intent out wide for Munster, and they notched their second try in the 50th minute when Rockwell College loosehead Ryan finished off from close range for Daly to convert, nudging the visitors back in front at 18-17. Despite losing centre Harry Brenner to the sin-bin, Daly soon extended Munster’s lead with a third successful penalty.
Yet, it was Leinster who prevailed in a tense finish. Desperately scrapping for an opening, they capitalised on an Munster error when Bobby Sheehan gobbled up an overthrown lineout in the 22 and fellow replacement McMahon drove over for the match-winning score. Fitzgibbon’s successful conversion left the difference at just three points at the end of a hugely entertaining contest.
LEINSTER U-19: Max O’Reilly (St. Gerard’s School); Matthew Jungmann (Newpark Comprehensive School), Luis Faria (Newpark Comprehensive School), Michael McGiff (Clontarf), Mark O’Brien (St. Michael’s College); David Fitzgibbon (Blackrock College), Adam McEvoy (St. Mary’s College); Marcus Hanan (Clane), Mark Nicholson (Wicklow), Charlie Ward (Tullow), Cian Prendergast (Newbridge College), Brian Deeny (Wexford Wanderers), Anthony Ryan (Clongowes Wood College) (capt), Jody Booth (St. Michael’s College), Ed Brennan (Blackrock College).
Replacements: Harry Noonan (Greystones), Bobby Sheehan (Clongowes Wood College), Ryan McMahon (Clongowes Wood College), Rory Wilson (St. Gerard’s School), Sean O’Brien (Blackrock College), Jack Connolly (Gonzaga College), David O’Brien (St. Gerard’s School), Gavin Jones (Blackrock College).
MUNSTER U-19: Louis Bruce (PBC Cork); Timmy Duggan (Old Crescent), Harry Benner (Glenstal Abbey), Tommy Downes (CBC Cork) (capt), Ronan Quinn (Glenstal Abbey); Ben Daly (Waterpark), Charlie O’Doherty (Newcastle West); Ciaran Ryan (Rockwell College), Padraig McCarthy (Bantry Bay), Darragh Fitzgerald (Rugbaí Corca Dhuibhne), Eoin O’Connor (Waterpark), Eoin Quilter (PBC Cork), Evan Murphy (Nenagh Ormond), Mark Stafford (Midleton), Alex Kendellen (PBC Cork).
Replacements: Aaron Hennessy (Ennis), Donagh Hyland (Glenstal Abbey), Shane O’Driscoll (Midleton), Will O’Callaghan (Ard Scoil Rís), Daniel O’Keke (Ard Scoil Rís), Kevin O’Connor (Cashel), Jack Crowley (Bandon Grammar School), Jack Hunt (Rockwell College).
Referee: Oisin Quinn (IRFU)
ULSTER UNDER-19s 33 CONNACHT UNDER-19s 17, Bangor Grammar School
Scorers: Ulster U-19s: Tries: Ryan O’Neill, Thomas Armstrong 2, Robbie Mathers, Joel Dundas; Cons: Conor Rankin 4
Connacht U-19s: Tries: Dylan Prendergast, Joshua Dunne, Tim Lambe; Con: Dylan Prendergast
HT: Ulster 21 Connacht 0
A three-try first half performance propelled the Ulster Under-19s to their first win of the Interprovincial campaign, as they got the better of their Connacht counterparts on a 33-17 scoreline at the Bangor Grammar School grounds.
Connacht came back strongly during the closing 35 minutes with three tries of their own, but Jonny Gillespie’s well-drilled hosts, who had sixteen schools representatives in their squad, remained in control thanks to further touchdowns from two of their replacement front rowers, Banbridge’s Robbie Mathers and Joel Dundas from Wallace High School.
Connacht U-19 head coach Ambrose Conboy made seven changes to the team that lost 31-7 to Leinster in the opening round, with U-18 Interprovincial title-winning captain Darragh Murray and Donnacha Byrne coming into the second row and back row respectively. However, they were powerless to prevent Ulster from raiding into a 21-0 interval lead.
Their three converted scores came from Monaghan youngster Ryan O’Neill, who played Under-18 15s and Sevens rugby for Ireland last season, and pacy out-half Thomas Armstrong, who also gained international honours earlier this year. The Methody ace chipped in with a well-taken brace.
Back rowers O’Neill and David McCann were particularly sharp, having the desired impact as ball carriers and chopping down Connacht forwards in the tackle. The westerners stepped up their game on the resumption, getting on the board thanks to an unconverted Dylan Prendergast try before the burly Mathers proved unstoppable at the end of a high-tempo Ulster attack. His bonus point score restored the 21-point difference – 26-5.
Connacht then took advantage of Ulster blindside Riley Westwood’s sin-binning to register their second five-pointer, scored by hard-working Galwegians number 8 Joshua Dunne, but before Westwood’s return to the pitch, Ulster had clinically found a way through the visitors’ defence again, this time replacement hooker Dundas showing impressive acceleration and finishing ability to claim try number five.
Ulster’s talented full-back Conor Rankin landed his fourth successful conversion, taking his tally for the Interpros to 20 points so far, but again Connacht displayed plenty of resilience, and Creggs’ Tim Lambe, who came on at scrum half, grabbed a late consolation try to top off their much-improved second half display from his team.
ULSTER U-19: Conor Rankin (Campbell College Belfast); Ethan McIlroy (Methodist College Belfast), Ben Power (Queen’s University), Angus Adair (Royal Belfast Academical Institution) (capt), Chris Larmour (Methodist College Belfast); Thomas Armstrong (Methodist College Belfast), Lewis Finlay (Ballynahinch); Adam Hanna (Banbridge Academy), Jack Treanor (City of Armagh), Seif El Gawad (Malone), Conor McMenamin (Letterkenny), Stephen Kelly (Letterkenny), Riley Westwood (Bangor Grammar School), Ryan O’Neill (City of Armagh), David McCann (Banbridge).
Replacements: Joel Dundas (Wallace High School), Ben McCrossan (Bangor Grammar School), Robbie Mathers (Banbridge), Jack Stinson (Campbell College Belfast), David Brown (Coleraine Grammar School), Charlie Worth (Royal School Armagh), Greg Hutley (Down High School), Robbie Armstrong (Methodist College Belfast).
CONNACHT U-19: Oran McNulty (Galwegians); Shane Jennings (Ballinasloe), Diarmuid Kilgallen (CC Roscrea), Saul O’Carroll (Buccaneers), Conor O’Shaughnessy (Galwegians); Dylan Prendergast (Westport) (capt), Evan Kenny (Corinthians); Harry O’Reilly (Buccaneers), Billy McVann (Ballina), Liam Winnett (Buccaneers), Darragh Murray (Buccaneers), Iarlaith Morrin Laheen (Galwegians), Donnacha Byrne (Sligo), Lucas Culliton (CC Roscrea), Joshua Dunne (Galwegians).
Replacements: Eoin de Buitlear (Corinthians), Conal O’Griofa (Corinthians), Thomas Connolly (Galwegians), Cathal Fleming (Monivea), Fergus Galvin (Buccaneers), Tim Lambe (Creggs), Cameron Watson (Old Wesley), Diarmuid Kilcommins (Corinthians).
Referee: Cillian Hogan (IRFU)
IRFU UNDER-19 INTERPROVINCIAL CHAMPIONSHIP – ROUND 3 FIXTURES:
Saturday, September 15 –
ULSTER UNDER-19s (3rd) v LEINSTER UNDER-19s (1st), Newforge Country Club, Belfast, 2pm
MUNSTER UNDER-19s (2nd) v CONNACHT UNDER-19s (4th), Thomond Park, 1pm
TOP SCORERS AFTER TWO ROUNDS:
20 – Conor Rankin (Ulster)
15 – David Fitzgibbon (Leinster), Ben Daly (Munster)
10 – Ciaran Ryan (Munster), Thomas Armstrong (Ulster), Robbie Mathers (Ulster)
9 – Dylan Prendergast (Connacht)
2 – Ciaran Ryan (Munster), Thomas Armstrong (Ulster), Robbie Mathers (Ulster)
1 – Oran McNulty (Connacht), Dylan Prendergast (Connacht), Joshua Dunne (Connacht), Tim Lambe (Connacht), Brian Deeny (Leinster), Charlie Ward (Leinster), Ed Brennan (Leinster), Michael McGiff (Leinster), Marcus Hanan (Leinster), Luis Faria (Leinster), Mark Nicholson (Leinster), Ryan McMahon (Leinster), Timmy Duggan (Munster), Alex Kendellen (Munster), Ronan Quinn (Munster), Eoin Quilter (Munster), Dylan Prendergast (Munster), Joshua Dunne (Munster), Tim Lambe (Munster), Angus Adair (Ulster), Conor Rankin (Ulster), Ryan O’Neill (Ulster), Joel Dundas (Ulster)