Ireland U20s Head Coach Richie Murphy says his side’s intense work-out against Leinster ‘A’ on Friday will be a hugely valuable stepping stone towards this summer’s rescheduled U20 Six Nations, as the squad intensify their preparations at the IRFU High Performance Centre this week.
Following a series of camps in Dublin, Murphy’s extended panel enjoyed their first run-out of the campaign at Energia Park, as they shared the spoils with Noel McNamara‘s Leinster outfit.
Ireland produced an impressive second half comeback to draw 14-14 courtesy of tries from Munster duo Mark Donnelly and Alex Kendellen, with Conor Rankin of Ulster converting both scores.
“It was brilliant,” Murphy said. “We’ve been working hard, we’ve been in camp for 12 days now so to actually get a game and something for us to hang our hat on was really good. Leinster put out a strong side and they brought it to us early on. We just got a few things wrong in or around that breakdown at the start but once we started to settle into the game, the lads did really well.”
As the countdown to Ireland’s Championship opener against Scotland on 19 June continues, Murphy and his Assistant Coaches Denis Leamy and Colm Tucker were able to maximise the playing opportunities for their extended squad by using 32 players across the 80 minutes against Leinster.
“The players have come into camp and they deserve an opportunity,” the Head Coach continued. “We tried to pick two 15s with two other guys coming in during that period. It’s great for us to think that we can have that cohesion within those 32 players and the guys that came in just fitted in seamlessly. A lot for us to work on but a good start.
“The spirit the lads showed in that second half, they never let it get away from them. They kept on top of Leinster and we defended our line really well as well, against some really good players, guys like Ryan Baird out there. It’s a real test for some of these young lads and they really stepped.”
The extended squad return to work at the HPC on the Sport Ireland Campus on Monday for their second five-day camp, before facing Munster ‘A’ in Dublin on Friday afternoon.
“We’ve another massive test against Munster A this week,” Murphy added. “There are plenty of things that we need to repair but there’s plenty of positives in there as well from Friday and we’ll get to them this week.”