Chris Cosgrave played a starring role as Leinster completed an unbeaten run in the Under-19 Interprovincial Championship with a comprehensive 49-14 win over Munster at Maynooth University.
Sunday’s final round double-header produced a flurry of tries and some excellent rugby, with Leinster retaining the title thanks to three victories-out-of-three and an overall haul of 14 points. Connacht finished second on six points, just ahead of Ulster on scoring difference, with Munster close behind in fourth.
Front rowers Sam Illo and Levi Vaughan, two of Leinster’s five personnel changes, crossed for the opening tries as the table toppers edged out the Munster pack in the physicality stakes. The front-foot ball allowed full-back Cosgrave and his fellow backs to display their skills.
Munster, who were pipped by Ulster last time out, grew into the contest and worked the ball wide for Ireland Sevens international Aaron Leahy to touch down. However, Leinster’s impressive scoring rate continued as they took a 28-7 lead into the break.
The appreciative crowd at the MU North Campus venue watched man-of-the-match Cosgrave break past the covering John Forde and Jamie Shanahan to score from the right wing, while centre Simon O’Kelly, another of the St. Michael’s College contingent, put his name to the bonus point try.
It was seven tries-to-two come the final whistle, centre Harry O’Riordan doubling Munster’s tally but the new champions’ efforts were rewarded with three more scores from Josh O’Connor, a try-scoring hero for Ireland’s European U-18 Sevens title-winning side, flanker Aaron Coleman and replacement Jack Barry.
Cosgrave, an Ireland U-18 Schools international these last two seasons, was in terrific form with his right boot, knocking over all seven conversions from all angles to complete his 19-point tally. He finished as the tournament’s top points scorer with 42 points, well clear of Ulster’s Reece Malone (24 points).
Giving his reaction afterwards, Leinster U-19 coach Andy Wood said: “It was satisfying to get to the final game of the series and to put out our best performance. It is a great way for the entire squad to round off the summer of work.”
Meanwhile, Connacht erased a 12-point second half deficit against Ulster to finish as the Championship’s runners-up. Centre Shane Jennings’ third try of the tournament helped the westerners to prevail 28-27 in a very closely-fought curtain-raiser.
Ulster’s 12-7 interval lead owed as much to their defensive grit as it did to their efficient attacking. They quickly got on the front foot, their work-hungry pack setting the tone before out-half Malone was able to snipe over for an unconverted try, barely three minutes in.
Just when it seemed like Connacht’s larger share of possession and territory would pay off, Ulster kept them at bay. Indeed, they worked their way downfield for their talismanic flanker and captain Reuben Crothers to cross for the third time in eight days.
Winger Rory McCleane went in under the Ulster posts just before half-time, set free by scrum half Hubert Gilvarry’s break down the left wing and well-timed offload. However, a powerful set of phases from the Ulster pack on the resumption allowed Malone to convert Tom Stewart’s try to restore the 12-point gap.
Play swung back and forth between both 22s, but Ulster crucially lost centre Jack Harte to the sin-bin for repeated team penalties. With their bench giving their a further lift, Connacht rumbled over the line with replacement hooker Eoin de Buitléar grounding the ball.
He soon followed up with his second try, the end-product of a concerted spell of pressure from the Connacht forwards, only for the surefooted Malone to land a brilliant penalty from the Connacht 10-metre line which reclaimed the lead for Ulster at 22-21.
Both defences were thoroughly tested during the closing ten minutes. Just a kick of the ball separated them in the end as Jennings’ try from a Cathal Forde kick through was converted by its creator, whereas there were no extras added to Conor McKee’s cracking late score, which exhibited the best of Ulster’s free-flowing backs and the scrum half’s clever support line.
IRFU UNDER-19 INTERPROVINCIAL CHAMPIONSHIP – ROUND 3 RESULTS:
CONNACHT UNDER-19s 28 ULSTER UNDER-19s 27, Maynooth University
Scorers: Connacht U-19s: Tries: Rory McCleane, Eoin de Buitléar 2, Shane Jennings; Cons: Cathal Forde 4
Ulster U-19s: Tries: Reece Malone, Reuben Crothers, Tom Stewart, Conor McKee; Cons: Reece Malone 2; Pen: Reece Malone
HT: Connacht U-19s 7 Ulster U-19s 12
CONNACHT U-19: Conor O’Shaughnessy (Galwegians RFC); Diarmuid Kilcommins (Corinthians RFC), Shane Jennings (Ballinasloe RFC), Luke Hogge (Sligo RFC), Rory McCleane (Corinthians RFC); Cathal Forde (Corinthians RFC), Hubert Gilvarry (Sligo RFC); Conal O’Griofa (Corinthians RFC), Matthew Earley (Carrick-on-Shannon RFC), Alan Duffy (Ballina RFC), Martin Fallon (Buccaneers RFC), Darragh Murray (Buccaneers RFC), Hubert Costello (Corinthians RFC), Diarmuid McCormack (Corinthians RFC) (capt), Donnacha Byrne (Sligo RFC).
Replacements: Eoin de Buitléar (Corinthians RFC), Caolan Hopkins (Ballina RFC), Cian Scanlon (Corinthians RFC), Cathal Fleming (Monivea RFC), Gavin Meagher (Roscrea RFC), Cian Treacy (Ballinasloe RFC), Daniel Reddan (Galwegians RFC), Harry Balsiger (Buccaneers RFC).
ULSTER U-19: Matthew Corr (Ballymena Academy); Luke Pollock (Dalriada School), Jack Harte (Friends’ School, Lisburn), Greg Hutley (Down High School), Charlie Worth (Royal School Armagh); Reece Malone (Friends’ School, Lisburn), Conor McKee (Sullivan Upper School); Adam Hanna (Banbridge Academy), Tom Stewart (Belfast Royal Academy), Patrick McAlpine (Campbell College, Belfast), Will Hopes (Regent House School), Harry Sheridan (Sullivan Upper School), Joel Dundas (Wallace High School), Reuben Crothers (Wallace High School) (capt), Jack Gamble (Ballyclare High School).
Replacements: Sam Rainey (Royal School Armagh), George Saunderson (Sullivan Upper School), 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), Stuart Wightman (Belfast Metropolitan College).
LEINSTER UNDER-19s 49 MUNSTER UNDER-19s 14, Maynooth University
Scorers: Leinster U-19s: Tries: Sam Illo, Levi Vaughan, Chris Cosgrave, Simon O’Kelly, Josh O’Connor, Aaron Coleman, Jack Barry; Cons: Chris Cosgrave 7
Munster U-19s: Tries: Aaron Leahy, Harry O’Riordan; Cons: Jack Delaney 2
HT: Leinster U-19s 28 Munster U-19s 7
LEINSTER U-19: Jamie Osborne (Naas RFC); Chris Cosgrave (St. Michael’s College), Simon O’Kelly (St. Michael’s College), Karl Martin (Boyne RFC), Josh O’Connor (Wexford Wanderers RFC); Tim Corkery (Kilkenny RFC), Harry Colbert (Gonzaga College); Hugo O’Malley (Blackrock College), Levi Vaughan (Terenure College), Sam Illo (Wesley College), 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), Ronan Loughnane (CC Roscrea), Shane Connolly (CC Roscrea), Steven Walsh (King’s Hospital), Jack Barry (Gonzaga College), Matthew Cullen (Blackrock College), Justin Leonard (Belvedere College), Matthew McGetrick-Stafford (Terenure College).
MUNSTER U-19: Jamie Shanahan (Skibbereen RFC); Killian Dineen (Ardscoil Ris), Harry O’Riordan (CBC Cork) (capt), Alan Flannery (Rockwell College), Aaron Leahy (CBC Cork); Jack Delaney (Crescent College Comprehensive), Mark O’Connor (CBC Cork); Liam Bishop (Nottingham RFC), Billy Kingston (PBC Cork), Matt McCarthy (Clonakilty RFC), Will O’Callaghan (Ardscoil Ris), John Forde (PBC Cork), Jack Kelleher (PBC Cork), Jack Ward Murphy (Ardscoil Ris), Daniel Okeke (Ardscoil Ris).
Replacements: Joe Rickard (Crescent College Comprehensive), Mark Donnelly (CBC Cork), Craig Finn (St. Munchin’s College), Fearghail O’Donoghue (Cashel RFC), Niall Queally (Glenstal Abbey School), John O’Sullivan (Rockwell College), Conor McMahon (Nenagh Ormond RFC), Tim Hegarty (Old Christians RFC).
IRFU UNDER-19 INTERPROVINCIAL CHAMPIONSHIP – TOP SCORERS AFTER FINAL ROUND:
42 – Chris Cosgrave (Leinster)
24 – Reece Malone (Ulster)
23 – Jack Delaney (Munster)
20 – Cathal Forde (Connacht)
15 – Reuben Crothers (Ulster), Shane Jennings (Connacht)
10 – Eoin de Buitléar (Connacht), Tim Hegarty (Munster), Matthew McGetrick-Stafford (Leinster), Conor McKee (Ulster), Jamie Osborne (Leinster), Alex Soroka (Leinster)
3 – Reuben Crothers (Ulster),Shane Jennings (Connacht)
2 – Eoin de Buitléar (Connacht), Tim Hegarty (Munster), Matthew McGetrick-Stafford (Leinster), Conor McKee (Ulster), Jamie Osborne (Leinster), Alex Soroka (Leinster)
1 – Jack Barry (Leinster), Aaron Coleman (Leinster), Chris Cosgrave (Leinster), Callum Davidson (Ulster), Jack Delaney (Munster), Killian Dineen (Munster), Cathal Fleming (Connacht), Sam Illo (Leinster), Aaron Leahy (Munster), Ronan Loughnane (Leinster), Reece Malone (Ulster), Rory McCleane (Connacht), Ben Murphy (Leinster), Josh O’Connor (Leinster), Simon O’Kelly (Leinster), Harry O’Riordan (Munster), Luke Pollock (Ulster), Tom Stewart (Ulster), Levi Vaughan (Leinster)