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Ireland U-18 Men Earn Silver At European Sevens Championship

Ireland U-18 Men Earn Silver At European Sevens Championship

Ireland U-18 Men Earn Silver At European Sevens Championship

Ireland U-18 Men's Sevens captain Mark Lee led his team to a silver medal finish at the European Championship ©Polish Rugby Union

The Ireland Under-18 Men’s Sevens team, supported by PwC, ended the Rugby Europe U-18 Sevens Championship as silver medallists following a narrow final defeat to France.

The well-drilled French side prevailed 21-17, successfully defending their title, but there was much to admire about this promising Ireland Under-18 squad and their first tournament experience together.

Coached by Mike Pettman and Kieran Hurrell, they won five of their six games in Poland, scored 23 tries with Pres Bray’s Finn Treacy the leading scorer with four. Three of the players are a year young and can play again next summer.

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The Mark Lee-led class of 2022 maintained Ireland’s record of medalling at every European U-18 Men’s Sevens Championship they have competed at – they were champions in 2016, 2017 and 2019 and runners-up in 2018.

Head coach Pettman commented: “The pleasing thing was that the players really bought into the programme and grew throughout the tournament. There were some outstanding individuals, but I would be reluctant to single anyone out as it was the squad effort that helped us reach our potential.

“We were up against far more experienced Sevens nations, who have had months of preparation to develop their craft, so in that aspect I’m unbelievably proud of what the team has achieved.

“I can honestly say it’s been the most enjoyable coaching experience I’ve had since arriving in Ireland.

“Hopefully these players can spread the gospel back to their home provinces of the benefits of Sevens and we can provide more even more Sevens opportunities for young aspiring players to advance their rugby skills.”

After topping their pool yesterday, Ireland began day two with a quarter-final clash with Germany. Gene O’Leary Kareem’s sidestepping break and a lovely offload from the supporting Jake O’Riordan saw Lukas Kenny cross for the opening try.

It was a strong finish from Kenny, and Stephen Kiely did likewise in the fourth minute, shrugging off two defenders to reach over in the left corner after good work from O’Leary Kareem and O’Riordan.

It was O’Riordan who followed up with a slick third try, breaking from a scrum on the German 22 and his quick feet and eye for a gap took him past three defenders and in behind the posts.

The conversion from O’Leary Kareem made it 17-0 for half-time, but Germany went up a gear on the restart, a clever dummy delivering an unconverted try from the long-striding Jan Christiansen.

Kenny was soon sin-binned for being offside from a penalty, the Germans dominating possession but Ireland’s defence held firm with a big tackle from Freddie Reader, followed by a penalty won by Ben McFarlane.

Captain Lee gobbled up the metres, bringing his side back up to the halfway line, and then a nice spread of passes out to the left allowed replacement Jed O’Dwyer to burn past a defender on the outside and wrap up a 24-5 triumph.

Portugal, who were also pool winners yesterday, provided stiff opposition at the semi-final stage, but Ireland managed to score inside the opening minute.

Kiely brilliantly bounced off a couple of tackles, his well-timed pass giving supporting scrum half O’Riordan the chance to release Lee for the try-line out wide on the left.

However, Lee was soon sin-binned for what was adjudged to be a deliberate knock-on. Portugal duly worked some space out wide, breaking from deep and Ben O’Connor narrowly missed out on intercepting before Mateus Ferreira got free to score.

It remained five points apiece up to half-time, Pettman’s youngsters unable to profit from a promising late run by replacement Reader. The second half started in scrappy fashion for both sides.

Territorially, Ireland were on top and when Portugal knocked on, O’Connor swooped on it and his excellent offload out of a double tackle had the newly-introduced Kenny racing in under the posts.

O’Leary Kareem supplied the extras, making it 12-5 with three minutes remaining, yet Portugal managed to level again when Guilherme Vasconcelos turned Manuel Vareiro’s well-weighted kick into a converted try.

Nonetheless, the Portuguese paid the price for a loose pass and a knock-on near their own 22, Kareem O’Leary running hard out to the right to send Treacy over past Vasconcelos to decide a cracking contest – 19-12.

Ireland were first to threaten in the Cup final, O’Riordan scampering downfield from a scrum but a subsequent turnover penalty allowed France to counter and they hit the front in the third minute.

Following up on Theo Attissogbe’s initial break, Gabin Rocher slipped in between two defenders and dashed in under the posts for Attissogbe to convert.

In response, the all-action Reader showed his pace to almost get away up the left touchline. Frustratingly, missed tackles allowed a clever French lineout move to lead to a superbly-taken try from Leon Darricarrere.

Treacy scored a fantastic five-pointer from the restart, though. O’Connor claimed the high ball, O’Riordan’s intelligent kick infield was hoovered up by Reader, and Charlie Griffin added further momentum to a surging attack which was finished off with aplomb by Treacy.

Trailing 14-5 at half-time, Ireland coughed up a costly turnover when on the attack and Hoani Bosmorin’s breakaway score suddenly left 16 points between the teams.

Lee and his team-mates battled on, mounting a stirring late fight-back that saw them make it three tries apiece. O’Connor cleverly side-footed a kick through and it bounced up for the onrushing Treacy to complete his brace.

O’Leary Kareem converted and France then leaked a last-minute penalty in their own 22, Treacy taking it quickly to send O’Connor over in the right corner. The try went unconverted at 21-17.

Ireland had a final restart to take, but the French regained possession and a penalty off the ruck – replacement McFarlane was pinged when he thought the ball was out – allowed last year’s champions to confirm a hard-fought win.

This weekend’s silver for the Ireland U-18s adds to the IRFU Sevens Programmes’ impressive summer haul, with two tournament golds and the Rugby Europe Trophy title for the Ireland Men’s team, along with the Women’s gold in Krakow and European silver.

Both Ireland senior Sevens squads are off to Bucharest next week to compete in the Rugby World Cup Sevens European qualifying tournaments. The top four finishers will advance to the World Cup in Cape Town in September.

IRELAND UNDER-18 MEN’S SEVENS Squad (2022 Rugby Europe U-18 Men’s Sevens Championship, Zabki, Poland, July 9-10, 2022):

Lukas Kenny (Campbell College/Ulster)
Ben McFarlane (Methodist College Belfast/Ulster)
Mark Lee (Rainey Old Boys RFC/Ulster) (capt)
Charlie Griffin (Harrow School/IQ Rugby)
Finn Treacy (Presentation College Bray/Leinster)
Jake O’Riordan (St. Munchin’s College/Munster)
Tadhg Brophy (Newbridge College/Leinster)
Gene O’Leary Kareem (PBC Cork/Munster)
Ben O’Connor (PBC Cork/Munster)
Freddie Reader (Stonyhurst College/IQ Rugby)
Stephen Kiely (Castletroy College/Munster)
Jed O’Dwyer (Crescent College Comprehensive/Munster)


Saturday, July 9 –


GERMANY 0 IRELAND 33, Dolcan Arena – Watch Replay
Scorers: Germany: –
Ireland: Tries: Charlie Griffin, Ben O’Connor, Jake O’Riordan 2, Lukas Kenny; Cons: Gene O’Leary Kareem 4
HT: Germany 0 Ireland 21

Team: Mark Lee (capt), Ben McFarlane, Charlie Griffin, Jake O’Riordan, Gene O’Leary Kareem, Ben O’Connor, Stephen Kiely.

Subs used: Finn Treacy, Lukas Kenny, Jed O’Dwyer, Tadhg Brophy, Freddie Reader.

SPAIN 5 IRELAND 21, Dolcan Arena – Watch Replay
Scorers: Spain: Try: Gonzalo Otamendi
Ireland: Tries: Mark Lee, Gene O’Leary Kareem 2; Cons: Gene O’Leary Kareem 3
HT: Spain 0 Ireland 14

Team: Mark Lee (capt), Finn Treacy, Charlie Griffin, Jake O’Riordan, Gene O’Leary Kareem, Ben O’Connor, Stephen Kiely.

Subs used: Tadhg Brophy, Jed O’Dwyer, Lukas Kenny, Freddie Reader, Ben McFarlane.

IRELAND 29 UKRAINE 7, Dolcan Arena – Watch Replay
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Gene O’Leary Kareem, Stephen Kiely, Freddie Reader, Finn Treacy, Jed O’Dwyer; Cons: Gene O’Leary Kareem 2
Ukraine: Try: Yevhenii Overchuk; Con: Yevhenii Overchuk
HT: Ireland 12 Ukraine 7

Team: Mark Lee (capt), Ben McFarlane, Lukas Kenny, Tadhg Brophy, Gene O’Leary Kareem, Freddie Reader, Stephen Kiely.

Subs used: Jake O’Riordan, Charlie Griffin, Finn Treacy, Jed O’Dwyer.

Rugby Europe U-18 Men’s Sevens Championship – Zabki 7s Results

Rugby Europe U-18 Men’s Sevens Championship – Zabki 7s Pool Tables

Day 1 Round-Up: Ireland Under-18s Advance In Zabki As Pool Winners

Sunday, July 10 –


IRELAND 24 GERMANY 5, Dolcan Arena – Watch Replay
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Lukas Kenny, Stephen Kiely, Jake O’Riordan, Jed O’Dwyer; Cons: Gene O’Leary Kareem, Ben O’Connor
Germany: Try: Jan Christiansen
HT: Ireland 17 Germany 0

Team: Mark Lee (capt), Ben McFarlane, Lukas Kenny, Jake O’Riordan, Gene O’Leary Kareem, Freddie Reader, Stephen Kiely.

Subs used: Finn Treacy, Ben O’Connor, Jed O’Dwyer.


IRELAND 19 PORTUGAL 12, Dolcan Arena – Watch Replay
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Mark Lee, Lukas Kenny, Finn Treacy; Cons: Gene O’Leary Kareem 2
Portugal: Tries: Mateus Ferreira, Guilherme Vasconcelos; Con: Manuel Vareiro
HT: Ireland 5 Portugal 5

Team: Mark Lee (capt), Ben McFarlane, Charlie Griffin, Jake O’Riordan, Gene O’Leary Kareem, Ben O’Connor, Stephen Kiely.

Subs used: Freddie Reader, Finn Treacy, Lukas Kenny.


FRANCE 21 IRELAND 17, Dolcan Arena – Watch Replay
Scorers: France: Tries: Gabin Rocher, Leon Darricarrere, Hoani Bosmorin; Cons: Theo Attissogbe 3
Ireland: Tries: Finn Treacy 2, Ben O’Connor; Con: Gene O’Leary Kareem
HT: France 14 Ireland 5

Team: Mark Lee (capt), Ben McFarlane, Charlie Griffin, Jake O’Riordan, Gene O’Leary Kareem, Ben O’Connor, Freddie Reader.

Subs used: Stephen Kiely, Lukas Kenny, Ben McFarlane.