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Ireland Under-20s Overcome Munster Challenge In Cork

Ireland Under-20s Overcome Munster Challenge In Cork

John Devine is congratulated by Jack Oliver after opening the scoring for the Ireland Under-20s against Munster at Musgrave Park ©INPHO/Tom Maher

Three tries in each half propelled the Ireland Under-20s (sponsored by PwC) to a 40-26 win over a Munster Development XV at Musgrave Park this afternoon.


Scorers: Munster Development XV: Tries: Josh Costello, Ethan Coughlan 2, Chris Moore; Cons: Jeff Williams 2, Ethan Coughlan
Ireland Under-20s: Tries: John Devine, Diarmuid Mangan, Ruadhan Quinn, Rory Telfer, Gus McCarthy, Jack Oliver; Cons: Jack Oliver, Harry West, Sam Prendergast 3
HT: Munster Development XV 12 Ireland Under-20s 19

As Richie Murphy’s young guns continue their preparations for the fast-approaching 2023 Under-20 Six Nations Championship, they got some more valuable game-time under their belts in Cork.

They led this annual festive fixture 19-12 at half-time, with John Devine’s second-minute try added to by Diarmuid Mangan and Ruadhan Quinn. Josh Costello and Ethan Coughlan touched down for Munster.

Despite scrum half Coughlan squaring it up with his second try, a run of scores from replacements Rory Telfer and Gus McCarthy, and Garryowen’s Jack Oliver, had the Ireland U-20s out of reach before Chris Moore replied for Munster.

Murphy’s squad will start the New Year by playing a Leinster Development XV at Energia Park next Friday (January 6), four weeks out from their U-20 Six Nations opener away to Wales.

An early turnover near the Munster line offer the Ireland Under-20s a gilt-edged opportunity, and centre Devine burst onto a pass from Oliver to score from five metres out.

Munster’s pacy back-three combined to good effect in response, drawing their side up into try-scoring range. A knock-on denied Brian Gleeson a try as the provincial team exerted some pressure at scrum time.

When Harry West was slow to roll away after a team warning from referee Joy Neville, the Ireland U-20 out-half saw yellow and further penalties followed.

The pressure eventually told on the quarter hour mark, with Conor Phillips lofting a pass out wide for Shannon clubman Costello to go over untouched on the right. Jeff Williams’ missed conversion left it five all.

The Ireland U-20s hit back in swift fashion, a penalty taking them back into the Munster 22 and it was Mangan who showed impressive strength to ground the ball from a well-directed lineout maul.

Scrum half Oliver floated over a fine conversion for a 12-5 lead, and the Ireland U-20s, with the wind in their favour, were now enjoying more territory and gain-line success despite a crooked lineout and then Ihechi Oji’s rip in a tackle.

Henry McErlean was held up after the Ireland U-20s carried well off a scrum penalty, with Paddy McCarthy and Conor O’Tighearnaigh both prominent, but Munster conceded soon after from a tapped penalty.

McCarthy tapped, carried and flicked a pass in behind him – with the presence of O’Tighearnaigh and Evan O’Connell sucking in defenders -and openside Quinn managed to spin out of a tackle to score just to the left of the posts.

However, that West-converted score was cancelled out before the break by a superb solo effort from Coughlan to leave just seven points in it.

Playing with a penalty advantage, the 2022 U-20 Grand Slam winner cut through from the edge of the Irish 22, getting away from O’Connell and Matt Victory and then evading a tackle from Ike Anagu to go in under the posts. Williams converted.

The Ireland U-20s might have scored from a late surge – Hugh Gavin showed his handling skills and O’Connell bulldozed past Williams – but loosehead McCarthy was denied this time from a quick tap.

Two early second half lineout opportunities did not go to plan for Munster, and they were also unable to profit from a Gleeson break as the supporting Oli Morris had a foot in touch.

Nonetheless, a lineout stolen by captain Eoin O’Connor kept the Munster outfit in Irish territory, and a free-flowing break involving Liam McCarthy and Daniel Hurley was finished off by a sniping Coughlan from five metres out.

Williams’ well-struck conversion from the right brought the Munster Development XV level at 19 points apiece, but the Ireland U-20s went up a gear in attack to gradually open up match-winning cushion.

La Rochelle winger Anagu had a acrobatic finish ruled out for a forward pass, and lock O’Connell also went close before Telfer crossed in the left corner having evaded the clutches of Hurley.

Replacement Sam Prendergast converted from five metres in from the touchline, opening up a 26-19 lead. With number 8 Gleeson sin-binned for going offside near his own line, Munster were also down to 14 men.

The Ireland U-20s’ replacement hooker McCarthy took full advantage, earning a turnover penalty before crashing over from a close-in maul. Prendergast, who had landed a pinpoint touchfinder in the build-up, supplied another conversion.

Morris intercepted to break up an Irish attack, but Murphy’s charges had the bit between their teeth. Oliver punished a slow-retreating Danny McCarthy when he tapped and clinically scampered over, showing a clean pair of heels to the Munster cover.

The extras from Prendergast took Ireland’s tally to 40 points, although they were quickly forced back on the defensive from a miscued lineout. Replacement Charlie Irvine was caught offside as Munster pressed for a try, landing himself in the sin bin.

Tapping from five metres out, Moore duly muscled his way over for Coughlan to convert. It left the deficit at 14 points with as many minutes remaining.

UCD front rower McCarthy could have finished with a hat-trick, as he had a maul try disallowed for accidental offside and a second effort was adjudged to have been held up. Anagu was bundled into touch too, as the Ireland U-20s finished the stronger.

IRELAND U-20: Henry McErlean (Terenure College RFC/Leinster), Ike Anagu (La Rochelle/IQ Rugby), Hugh Gavin (Galwegians RFC/Connacht), John Devine (Galway Corinthians RFC/Connacht), Noah Sheridan (Clontarf FC/Leinster); Harry West (Buccaneers RFC/Connacht), Jack Oliver (Garryowen FC/Munster); Paddy McCarthy (Dublin University FC/Leinster), Matt Victory (Dublin University FC/Leinster), Fiachna Barrett (Galway Corinthians RFC/Connacht), Conor O’Tighearnaigh (UCD RFC/Leinster), Evan O’Connell (UL Bohemian RFC/Munster), Diarmuid Mangan (UCD RFC/Leinster), Ruadhan Quinn (Old Crescent RFC/Munster), James McNabney (Ballymena RFC/Ulster).

Replacements: Gus McCarthy (UCD RFC/Leinster), George Hadden (Clontarf FC/Leinster), Ronan Foxe (Old Belvedere RFC/Leinster), Joe Hopes (Queen’s University Belfast RFC/Ulster), George Shaw (Cardiff University RFC/IQ Rugby), Oscar Cawley (Naas RFC/Leinster, Sam Prendergast (Lansdowne FC/Leinster), Rory Telfer (Queen’s University Belfast RFC/Ulster), Charlie Irvine (Queen’s University Belfast RFC/Ulster), Sam Berman (Dublin University FC/Leinster), James Doyle (Lansdowne FC/Leinster).

MUNSTER DEVELOPMENT XV: Conor Phillips (Young Munster RFC); Josh Costello (Shannon RFC), Fionn Gibbons (Young Munster RFC), Liam McCarthy (Highfield RFC), Ihechi Oji (UL Bohemian RFC); Jeff Williams (UCD RFC), Ethan Coughlan (Shannon RFC); Kieran Ryan (Shannon RFC), Danny Sheahan (UCC RFC), Darragh McSweeney (Shannon RFC), Fearghail O’Donoghue (Cashel RFC), Eoin O’Connor (Young Munster RFC) (capt), Jack Kelleher (Cork Constitution FC), Jacob Sheahan (UCC RFC), Brian Gleeson (Garryowen FC).

Replacements: Chris Moore (Young Munster RFC), Mark Donnelly (Garryowen FC), Danny McCarthy (UCC RFC), Oisin Toland (Old Crescent RFC), Ronan O’Sullivan (Young Munster RFC), Kyle Read (Midleton RFC), Aaron Quirke (UCC RFC), Cian O’Halloran (Shannon RFC), Oli Morris (Garryowen FC), Shay McCarthy (Young Munster RFC), Daniel Hurley (Cork Constitution FC), George Coomber (Cork Constitution FC).

Referee: Joy Neville (IRFU)