Leinster and Munster are the early pace-setters in the IRFU Under-19 Men’s Interprovincial Championship, with the former’s six-try showing against Ulster giving them a one-point lead at the top of the table.
Leinster launched their U-19 Interpro title defence at Energia Park, where they played the final game of a well-attended triple header which also saw the province’s senior men’s and women’s teams made winning starts to their campaigns.
Opposing second rows Matthew Sands and Alex Soroka were prominent early on, carrying strongly and also weighing in with some big tackles. Ulster leaked a penalty on halfway which Chris Cosgrave kicked narrowly wide, but the Leinster winger nailed his next opportunity in the 10th minute.
Cosgrave’s second successful penalty goal preceded the game’s opening try, a fine effort from Ulster’s talismanic captain Reuben Crothers who cut through the middle as he caught out Leinster’s fringe defence. Out-half Reece Malone added the extras.
Responding in the 25th minute, quick footwork from Naas full-back Jamie Osborne put winger Matthew McGetrick-Stafford away to make it 11-7, before Malone’s reliable boot closed the gap to a single point.
Terenure College’s McGetrick-Stafford then took centre stage, propelling himself through a Crothers tackle to notch his second try in the left corner. Cosgrave landed a textbook conversion from the touchline, and the lead stood at 25-10 after McGetrick-Stafford had hared up the wing again and passed inside for scrum half Ben Murphy to finish off.
The high-quality scores kept coming with Dalriada School centre Luke Pollock breaking a tackle and gobbling up 40 metres for a terrific individual score, converted by Malone. But the ever-influential Soroka soon crossed for Leinster’s bonus point try to maintain the 15-point advantage.
The visitors conceded while prop George Saunderson was in the sin-bin, as Leinster hooker Ronan Loughnane got his name on the scoresheet. There was still time for Osborne to canter home for the sixth try, while industrious openside Crothers raised his side’s spirits with his second of the evening.
This season’s Championship kicked off at Thomond Park on Friday night where Munster were able to maintain a 10-point margin against Connacht. Old Christians winger Tim Hegarty touched down twice for the victors.
A closely-fought first half ended 13-3 in the hosts’ favour with Crescent College Comprehensive’s Jack Delaney and Cathal Forde of Corinthians swapping penalties inside the opening quarter of an hour.
Amid some defence-dominated exchanges, centre Delaney clipped over a second successful penalty to restore Munster’s lead. The try breakthrough came when Nottingham prop Liam Bishop floated a long pass out for Hegarty to finish in the corner, with Delaney adding the extras to continue his impressive kicking display.
Colm Tucker’s half-time words got the desired response from his Connacht team, as Monivea lock Cathal Fleming opened their try account. Forde converted and added a subsequent penalty, but Munster sandwiched in two more tries, the elusive Hegarty going over out wide again and fellow winger Killian Dineen doing likewise late on.
IRFU UNDER-19 INTERPROVINCIAL CHAMPIONSHIP – ROUND 1 RESULTS:
MUNSTER UNDER-19s 23 CONNACHT UNDER-19s 13, Thomond Park
Scorers: Munster U-19s: Tries: Tim Hegarty 2, Killian Dineen; Con: Jack Delaney; Pens: Jack Delaney 2
Connacht U-19s: Try: Cathal Fleming; Con: Cathal Forde; Pens: Cathal Forde 2
HT: Munster U-19s 13 Connacht U-19 3
MUNSTER U-19: Jamie Shanahan (Skibbereen RFC); Killian Dineen (Ardscoil Ris), Harry O’Riordan (CBC Cork) (capt), Jack Delaney (Crescent College Comprehensive), Tim Hegarty (Old Christians RFC); Cian Whooley (CBC Cork), John O’Sullivan (Rockwell College); Liam Bishop (Nottingham RFC), Billy Kingston (PBC Cork), Mark Donnelly (CBC Cork), John Moloney (Castletroy College), John Forde (PBC Cork), Fearghail O’Donoghue (Cashel RFC), Jack Kelleher (PBC Cork), Daniel Okeke (Ardscoil Ris).
Replacements: Craig Finn (St. Munchin’s College), Joe Rickard (Crescent College Comprehensive), Matt McCarthy (Clonakilty RFC), Will O’Callaghan (Ardscoil Ris), Niall Queally (Glenstal Abbey School), Mark O’Connor (CBC Cork), Alan Flannery (Rockwell College), Conor McMahon (Nenagh Ormond RFC).
CONNACHT U-19: Conor O’Shaughnessy (Galwegians); Hubert Gilvarry (Sligo RFC), Shane Jennings (Ballinasloe RFC), Luke Hogge (Sligo RFC), Rory McCleane (Corinthians RFC); Cathal Forde (Corinthians RFC), Aodha Hession (Creggs RFC); Conal O’Griofa (Corinthians RFC), Eoin de Buitléar (Corinthians RFC), Lasha Laoshvili (Buccaneers RFC), Cathal Fleming (Monivea RFC), Darragh Murray (Buccaneers RFC), Diarmuid McCormack (Corinthians RFC) (capt), Gavin Meagher (Roscrea RFC), Donnacha Byrne (Sligo RFC).
Replacements: Matthew Earley (Carrick-on-Shannon RFC), Caolan Hopkins (Ballina RFC), Jack Keegan (Creggs RFC), Martin Fallon (Buccaneers RFC), Evan O’Boyle (Galwegians RFC), Leo McFarlane (Buccaneers RFC), Cian Treacy (Ballinasloe RFC), Daniel Reddan (Galwegians RFC).
LEINSTER UNDER-19s 46 ULSTER UNDER-19s 24, Energia Park
Scorers: Leinster U-19s: Tries: Matthew McGetrick-Stafford 2, Ben Murphy, Alex Soroka, Ronan Loughnane, Jamie Osborne; Cons: Chris Cosgrave 5; Pens: Chris Cosgrave 2
Ulster U-19s: Tries: Reuben Crothers 2, Luke Pollock; Cons: Reece Malone 3; Pen: Reece Malone
HT: Leinster U-19s 25 Ulster U-19s 10
LEINSTER U-19: Jamie Osborne (Naas RFC); Chris Cosgrave (St. Michael’s College), Marcus Kiely (Newbridge College), Karl Martin (Boyne RFC), Matthew McGetrick-Stafford (Terenure College); Tim Corkery (Kilkenny RFC), Ben Murphy (Presentation College Bray); Hugo O’Malley (Blackrock College), Ronan Loughnane (CC Roscrea), Sam Illo (Wesley College), Alex Soroka (Belvedere College), Joe McCarthy (Blackrock College), Jack Barry (Gonzaga College), Aaron Coleman (Belvedere College), Will Hickey (St. Michael’s College).
Replacements: Temi Adewunmi-Lasisi (Enniscorthy), Levi Vaughan (Terenure College), Shane Connolly (CC Roscrea), Jack Coolican (Gonzaga College), Jack Guinane (St. Michael’s College), Matthew Cullen (Blackrock College), Justin Leonard (Belvedere College), Donal Conroy (Newbridge College).
ULSTER U-19: Matthew Corr (Ballymena Academy); Stuart Martin (Regent House School), Luke Pollock (Dalriada School), Jack Harte (Friends’ School, Lisburn), Stuart Wightman (Belfast Metropolitan College); Reece Malone (Friends’ School, Lisburn), Dara Gaskin (Campbell College, Belfast); George Saunderson (Sullivan Upper School), Joel Dundas (Wallace High School), Oscar Egan (Coleraine Grammar School), Matthew Sands (City of Armagh RFC), Harry Sheridan (Sullivan Upper School), Will Hopes (Regent House School), Reuben Crothers (Wallace High School) (capt), Jack Gamble (Ballyclare High School).
Replacements: Scott Hutton (Belfast High School), Adam Hanna (Banbridge Academy), Justin Whyte (Enniskillen Royal GS), David Stinson (Enniskillen Royal GS), Peter Heasley (Wallace High School), Callum Davidson (Methodist College, Belfast), Matthew Hamilton (Malone), Ethan Bryce (Methodist College, Belfast).