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Under-19 Interprovincial Championship: Round 2 Review

Under-19 Interprovincial Championship: Round 2 Review

Ulster Academy hooker Tom Stewart charges forward to set up the province's second try for scrum half Conor McKee ©DICKSONDIGITAL/John Dickson

Late penalties from Chris Cosgrave and Reece Malone proved decisive in the middle round of the IRFU Under-19 Interprovincial Championship, as Leinster prevailed in rain-hit Galway and Ulster got off the mark in Bangor.

Table toppers Leinster moved a step closer to retaining the U-19 title with a gritty 17-14 win over Connacht at the Sportsground. The young Blues now sit on nine points (with a +25 scoring difference) ahead of Sunday’s showdown with second-placed Munster at Maynooth University (kick-off 3.30pm).

Munster are still very much in the Championship hunt, lying on five points (+8) after being edged out 13-11 by Ulster, their second round hosts. That result has moved the northern province onto four points (-20) with Connacht, their opponents at 1.30pm on Sunday, now out of contention on one point (-13).

Looking to repeat their Under-18 heroics from last year against Leinster, Colm Tucker’s Connacht team made light of the unseasonal wind and rain to claim a fourth-minute lead. Ballinasloe centre Shane Jennings burst through for a fine individual try, converted by Cathal Forde.

The deteriorating rain-soaked conditions made it difficult for both sides to create opportunities and Jennings’ early score left the contest delicately poised at half-time. A break by Newbridge College’s Marcus Kiely on the left wing gave Leinster some encouragement, although the hosts’ lead was relatively untroubled up to the 50-minute mark.

Using the territory offered up by a Connacht knock-on, Naas full-back Jamie Osborne broke a tackle to finish off a well-worked set play, with Cosgrave landing the levelling conversion. However, the westerners soon capitalised on a Leinster error after pinning them back inside their own 22.

Jennings completed his brace with a 56th minute try, again converted expertly by his centre partner Forde from Corinthians, but Leinster used their bench to telling effect as the fresh legs, combined with the growing influence of powerful lock Alex Soroka, made the difference.

Indeed it was Soroka who drove over in the 61st minute, bringing the visitors back level while Connacht replacement Cian Scanlon was in the sin-bin. Their persistence was rewarded when Cosgrave split the sides with a well-struck penalty five minutes later, and a last-gasp lineout infringement frustratingly denied the hosts a chance to respond.

Giving his reaction afterwards, Leinster team manager Noel McKenna said: “We are really proud of the lads. They went behind twice in terrible conditions and they had every reason to throw in the towel. This is where their character came into it. They stuck at it, kept going, to get the reward in the end.”

Meanwhile, Ulster also came from behind on two occasions to beat Munster 13-11 at Bangor Grammar School. Playing into a tough and unforgiving wind in the first half, coaches Jonny Gillespie and Jamie Kirk would have been very pleased with Ulster’s efforts to keep the deficit to just six points.

Crescent College Comprehensive’s Jack Delaney landed two first-quarter penalties, and despite some promising phase-building from the visitors, a try eluded them. Captain Harry O’Riordan and Delaney looked dangerous with ball in hand, while Ardscoil Ris number 8 Daniel Okeke consistently got over the gain-line.

The exchanges continued to be scrappy on the resumption, but when Ulster lifted the intensity and gained momentum in attack, they clinically struck for two tries. The first of them arrived just a couple of minutes into the second half when replacement Callum Davidson crossed after a bout of quick recycling and crisp passing.

Midway through the half, Ulster Academy hooker Tom Stewart gathered an overthrown lineout and darted from halfway up into the Munster 22, using a strong hand-off and a well-timed offload to send scrum half Conor McKee over for a try on his return from winning European U-18 Sevens gold with Ireland.

With both tries unconverted from out wide, Munster were still only 10-6 behind and their forwards’ pick-and-goes got them back within striking distance. Quality ball for the backs was turned into an unconverted try for Delaney, but some forward pressure of their own in front of the posts set up Malone’s penalty which nudged Ulster over the finish line.


ULSTER UNDER-19s 13 MUNSTER UNDER-19s 11, Bangor Grammar School
Scorers: Ulster U-19s: Tries: Callum Davidson, Conor McKee; Pen: Reece Malone
Munster U-19s: Try: Jack Delaney; Pens: Jack Delaney 2
HT: Ulster U-19s 0 Munster U-19s 6

ULSTER U-19: Matthew Corr (Ballymena Academy); Luke Pollock (Dalriada School), Jack Harte (Friends’ School, Lisburn), Greg Hutley (Down High School), Stuart Wightman (Belfast Metropolitan College); Reece Malone (Friends’ School, Lisburn), Conor McKee (Sullivan Upper School); George Saunderson (Sullivan Upper School), Tom Stewart (Belfast Royal Academy), Patrick McAlpine (Campbell College, Belfast), 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: Joel Dundas (Wallace High School), Adam Hanna (Banbridge Academy), Scott Hutton (Belfast HS), David Stinson (Enniskillen Royal GS), Peter Heasley (Wallace High School), Dara Gaskin (Campbell College, Belfast), Matthew Hamilton (Malone RFC), Callum Davidson (Methodist College), Justin White (Enniskillen Royal GS).

MUNSTER U-19: Aaron Leahy (CBC Cork); Killian Dineen (Ardscoil Ris), Harry O’Riordan (CBC Cork) (capt), Jack Delaney (Crescent College Comprehensive), Conor McMahon (Nenagh Ormond RFC); Jamie Shanahan (Skibbereen RFC), 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: Joe Rickard (Crescent College), Matt McCarthy (Clonakilty RFC), Craig Finn (St. Munchin’s College), Will O’Callaghan (Ardscoil Ris), Jack Ward Murphy (Ardscoil Ris), Mark O’Connor (CBC Cork), Alan Flannery (Rockwell College), Tim Hegarty (Old Christians RFC).

CONNACHT UNDER-19s 14 LEINSTER UNDER-19s 17, the Sportsground
Scorers: Connacht U-19s: Tries: Shane Jennings 2; Cons: Cathal Forde 2
Leinster U-19s: Tries: Jamie Osborne, Alex Soroka; Cons: Chris Cosgrave 2; Pen: Chris Cosgrave
HT: Connacht U-19s 7 Leinster U-19s 0

CONNACHT U-19: Conor O’Shaughnessy (Galwegians RFC); Hubert Gilvarry (Sligo RFC), Shane Jennings (Ballinasloe RFC), Cathal Forde (Corinthians RFC), Rory McCleane (Corinthians RFC); Cian Treacy (Ballinasloe RFC), Aodha Hession (Creggs RFC); Conal O’Griofa (Corinthians RFC), Eoin  de Buitléar (Corinthians RFC), Alan Duffy (Ballina 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), Cian Scanlon (Corinthians RFC), Martin Fallon (Buccaneers RFC), Hubert Costello (Corinthians RFC), Harry Ballsiger (Buccaneers RFC), Luke Hogge (Sligo RFC), Diarmuid Kilcommins (Corinthians RFC).

LEINSTER U-19: Jamie Osborne (Naas RFC); Ed Kelly (St. Michael’s College), Chris Cosgrave (St. Michael’s College), Karl Martin (Boyne RFC), Marcus Kiely (Newbridge College); Tim Corkery (Kilkenny RFC), Matthew Cullen (Blackrock College); Hugo O’Malley (Blackrock College), Ronan Loughnane (CC Roscrea), Shane Connolly (CC Roscrea), Alex Soroka (Belvedere College), Joe McCarthy (Blackrock College), Jack Guinane (St. Michael’s College), Aaron Coleman (Belvedere College), Will Hickey (St. Michael’s College).

Replacements: Temi Adewunmi-Lasisi (Enniscorthy RFC), Levi Vaughan (Terenure College), Sam Illo (Wesley College), Jack Coolican (Gonzaga College), Steven Walsh (King’s Hospital), Harry Colbert (Gonzaga College), Justin Leonard (Belvedere College), Simon O’Kelly (St. Michael’s College).



23 – Chris Cosgrave (Leinster)

19 – Jack Delaney (Munster)

12 – Cathal Forde (Connacht), Reece Malone (Ulster)

10 – Reuben Crothers (Ulster), Tim Hegarty (Munster), Shane Jennings (Connacht), Matthew McGetrick-Stafford (Leinster), Jamie Osborne (Leinster), Alex Soroka (Leinster)


2 – Reuben Crothers (Ulster), Tim Hegarty (Munster), Shane Jennings (Connacht), Matthew McGetrick-Stafford (Leinster), Jamie Osborne (Leinster), Alex Soroka (Leinster)

1 – Callum Davidson (Ulster), Jack Delaney (Munster), Killian Dineen (Munster), Cathal Fleming (Connacht), Ronan Loughnane (Leinster), Conor McKee (Ulster), Ben Murphy (Leinster), Luke Pollock (Ulster)