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Ireland U-18 Schools Team Taste Victory In Festival Opener

The Ireland team after the game 8/4/2023

The Ireland Under-18 Schools squad are pictured together following their five-try triumph over Scotland at Energia Park ©INPHO/Bryan Keane

Boyne lock Mahon Ronan started and finished the try-scoring as the Ireland Under-18 Schools team (sponsored by PwC) posted a 36-20 bonus point win over Scotland on the opening day of the U-18 Men’s Six Nations Festival.


Saturday, April 8 –

Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Mahon Ronan 2, Bryan Walsh, Tom Murtagh, Mikey Yarr; Cons: Tom Murtagh 3, Gene O’Leary Kareem; Pen: Tom Murtagh
Scotland: Tries: Hector Patterson, Oliver Duncan; Cons: Jack Brown 2; Pens: Jack Brown 2
HT: Ireland 22 Scotland 10

Energia Park is hosting the annual Eastertime festival and Paul Barr’s Ireland side put together a well-judged opening victory, aided by back-to-back tries from replacement Bryan Walsh and Tom Murtagh just before half-time.

Goal-kicking scrum half Murtagh finished with 14 points, while Blackrock College’s Mikey Yarr also got on the scoresheet in the second half via a 41st-minute lineout maul.

Hector Patterson’s sniping score had Scotland leading 10-7 early on, and despite Oliver Duncan doubling their try tally, Ireland held firm with Ronan’s late charge-down effort securing a 16-point winning margin.

Captained by St. Mary’s College out-half Evan Moynihan, Barr’s youngsters will be back in action in Donnybrook on Wednesday (kick-off 5.30pm) when they face Wales who lost their first fixture to Italy (29-8).

A strong early spell of carrying from the Irish forwards netted the opening try with barely two minutes on the clock. Ronan forced his way over after Jack Angulo and Mark Fitzgerald had both been stopped just short.

Clongowes Wood half-back Murtagh swept over the conversion, but Scotland, who had the benefit of a warm-up game against Wales last month, responded quickly as a Jack Brown penalty made it 7-3.

Ireland’s defence began to be tested, with Scotland winger Samuel Rockley denied a try due to a forward pass from Johnny Ventisei. A second one, this time from captain Brown, saw Rockley pulled back again just a few minutes later.

Despite a Ronan lineout steal, Murtagh misjudged a clearance kick and the Scots built steadily for their first try. Scrum half Patterson used a dummy to break past Emmet Calvey from a ruck and score, giving Brown a simple conversion.

A scrum penalty launched Ireland forward on the 20-minute mark, with centres Gene O’Leary Kareem and Paddy Taylor also hoovering up loose Scottish possession to break up the visitors’ momentum.

Taylor’s sidestepping run in midfield drew a penalty which Murtagh fired through the posts, bringing Barr’s charges level at 10-all. Angulo and Murtagh followed up by finding some gaps in the Scottish defence.

Ireland’s attack went up a gear approaching the interval, with big second row Walsh starting and finishing a forwards-dominated spell. He won the initial lineout and, a few phases later, grounded the ball with Luke Murphy on the latch.

Murtagh converted and then got on the end of a brilliant backs move, the hosts’ quick-fire brace of scores suddenly leaving the Scots 22-10 down.

Some deft handling released Paidi Farrell on the right wing, he found O’Leary Kareem on his inside and the centre’s inviting offload out of a tackle sent his scrum half over for a terrific team try.

Moynihan, Taylor and Ciaran Mangan worked hard in the build-up to create the space for Farrell, and flanker Angulo’s lung-busting run from a maul, early in the second period, had Ireland pressing for a fourth try.

They did not have long to wait for it, a close-in penalty setting up Yarr to spring over from a maul, diving in low to make the line despite two covering Scottish defenders. Murtagh converted from out wide on the right.

Now 29-10 in arrears, Scotland hit back inside four minutes. Generating quicker ruck ball and gaining two penalties in quick succession, flanker Duncan finished off the attack with a neat dummy and lunge for the line.

As the game began to open up even more, Mangan made an important interception and Walsh and the newly-introduced Andrew Doyle both snatched up possession at the end of Scottish attacks that petered out.

Brown did cut the gap to nine points with a well-struck penalty, punishing sin-binned openside Angulo who was adjudged to have taken out the full-back after his kick through.

Nonetheless, the numbers were evened up on the hour mark when Scottish replacement Keita Ando saw yellow for a deliberate knock-on.

Ireland had the territory to go for a final score, and although there were a couple of misfires with Farrell knocking on and replacement Alex Mullan penalised for obstruction at a maul, their persistence paid off in the end.

Taylor and replacement James White were both quickly in at the breakdown to earn penalties, and further defensive pressure – this time inside the Scottish 22 – forced that second try for Mahon.

Scottish replacement Hugo Alderson had two kicks blocked down, the first by Ardscoil Rís back rower Murphy and then Mahon did likewise at a 68th-minute maul. He dived on the bouncing ball to complete his brace.

O’Leary Kareem topped it off with a classy conversion, leaving the crowd to show their appreciation after the final whistle for both teams’ efforts in what was an entertaining clash.


Day 1 (Saturday, April 8 at Energia Park) –

Wales 8 Italy 29
Ireland 36 Scotland 20
England 22 France 23

Day 2 (Wednesday, April 12 at Energia Park) –

France v Scotland, 1pm
Italy v England, 3.15pm
Wales v Ireland, 5.30pm

Day 3 (Sunday, April 16 at Energia Park) –

Scotland v Wales, 12pm
France v Italy, 2.15pm
Ireland v England, 4.30pm

IRELAND U-18 SCHOOLS: Jed O’Dwyer (Crescent College Comprehensive/Munster); Paidi Farrell (St. Mary’s Edenderry/Tullamore RFC/Leinster), Gene O’Leary Kareem (Presentation Brothers College Cork/Munster), Paddy Taylor (Newbridge College/Leinster), Ciaran Mangan (Newbridge College/Leinster); Evan Moynihan (St. Mary’s College/Leinster) (capt), Tom Murtagh (Clongowes Wood College/Leinster); Mark Fitzgerald (Crescent College Comprehensive/Munster), Mikey Yarr (Blackrock College/Leinster), Emmet Calvey (Ardscoil Rís/Munster), Michael Foy (Christian Brothers College Cork/Munster), Mahon Ronan (St. Mary’s Diocesan School, Drogheda/Boyne RFC/Leinster), Aaron O’Brien (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Jack Angulo (Blackrock College/Leinster), Luke Murphy (Ardscoil Rís/Munster).

Replacements: Luke McLaughlin (Gonzaga College/Leinster), James Wyse (Clongowes Wood College/Leinster), Alex Mullan (Blackrock College/Leinster), Bryan Walsh (Coláiste Éinde/Galway Corinthians RFC/Connacht), James White (St. Michael’s College/Leinster), Oisin Minogue (St. Munchin’s College/Munster), Andrew Doyle (Ardscoil na Tríonóide/Athy RFC/Leinster), Dylan Hicks (Bantry Community College/Bantry Bay RFC/Munster), Charlie Molony (Blackrock College/Leinster), Andre Ryan (Belvedere College/Leinster), Todd Lawlor (Newbridge College/Leinster).

SCOTLAND U-18: Jack Brown (George Watson’s College) (capt); Fergus Watson (Biggar RFC), Johnny Ventisei (St. Aloysius/GHA RFC), Lloyd McEwan-Peters (Yorkshire Academy/Wellington College), Samuel Rockley (London Irish/Bishop Wand/London Irish Academy); Isaac Coates (Merchiston Castle), Hector Patterson (Hawick RFC); Ben White (Peebles RFC), Joe Roberts (Robert Gordon’s College), Ollie Blyth-Lafferty (Boroughmuir RFC), Fraser Wilson (Gala RFC), Charlie Moss (Marlow Rugby/Shiplake College/Wasps), Oliver Duncan (Edinburgh Academy), Freddy Douglas (Stewart’s Melville College), Finn Spurway (Glenalmond College).

Replacements: Seb Stephen (Glenalmond College/Aberdeen Grammar RFC), Finlay Mcintosh (George Watson’s College), Keita Ando (SC Frankfurt 1880/Sedbergh), Bart Godsell (Gloucester Academy/Marling), Nicholas Torkington (Stirling County RFC), Fergus Wood (George Heriot’s School), Hugo Alderson (Stewart’s Melville College), Matthew Urwin (St. Aloysius), Jack Hocking (Edinburgh Rugby), Thomas Russell (Stewarts Melville College), Sam Leweni (Queen Victoria School).

Referee: Anthony Lac (France)