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Ireland U-18 Men Bring Home European Sevens Silver

Ireland U-18 Men Bring Home European Sevens Silver

Ireland U-18 Men Bring Home European Sevens Silver

Fraser Cunningham, front row third form the left, with the silver medal winning U18 7s squad.

The Ireland Under-18 Men’s Sevens team ran France close before finishing as runners-up at the Rugby Europe U-18 Sevens Championship in Macolin, Switzerland.

It was a tremendous collective effort from Kieran Hurrell’s young squad, who unfortunately had to play the Cup final without injured captain Gene O’Leary Kareem and Tim Deering, one of their leading try scorers.

While the 26-12 defeat to the French saw them miss out on the title, Ireland did keep up the IRFU Under-18 Sevens pathway’s proud record of top-two finishes in this competition.

They were champions in 2016, 2017 and 2019, and were also silver medal winners in 2018 and 2022. O’Leary Kareem was the only returning player from last year, while Hurrell stepped up from assistant coach to the head coach role.

Day two of the tournament saw the Ireland U-18s, who had topped Pool B on Saturday, win through to the decider by beating Germany (43-7) and Spain (21-14). The latter result came at a cost with O’Leary Kareem forced out of the final.

Tullamore flyer Paidi Farrell (pictured below) scored in each of the knockout matches, including a brace against the Spanish. He was Ireland’s top try scorer in Macolin with eight, following by Skerries talent Deering who ran in five tries in as many games.

There were also impressive contributions from Wexford Wanderers’ Connor Fahy, and Munster duo Luke Murphy and Oisin Minogue in the forwards. Minogue grabbed a try against France from his own kick through from halfway.

Getting to perform in a green jersey against high level international opposition will help to bring these players on further, some of whom are part of the IRFU’s National Talent Squad programme.

The omens are good when you consider that from the Ireland U-18 Sevens teams of recent years, Hugo Lennox, Andrew Smith, Ben Moxham, Jude Postlethwaite and Sean Galvin have all gone to play on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series circuit.

A number of other players have also graduated from the European U-18 Sevens to play for their provinces at senior level, including Angus Kernohan, Oran McNulty, Aaron Sexton and Alex Kendellen. Josh O’Connor and Conor McKee are on the right track too.

Deering continued his run of scoring in every match with the opener against Germany. He reacted quickest to go over on the left after Matthew Te Pou’s pass back inside had bounced backwards off Murphy’s fingertips.

Murphy got back to prevent a quick-fire German response, before popping up with Ireland’s second try in the sixth minute. The recent Ardscoil Rís captain shrugged off two attempted tackles to crash in under the posts.

Germany cut the deficit to 12-7 for half-time, with Linus Muller freed up to score to the left of the posts. Going quickly from a penalty on the Irish 10-metre line, Fahy surged downfield for his side’s third try.

The Ireland U-18 Clubs and Schools international sidestepped and accelerated through, darting down the left touchline and using a strong hand-off to round off a terrific solo score.

A ball-dislodging tackle from Farrell quickly won back possession for Ireland, and Murphy broke through two more tackles to charge clear from just inside the German half. His second try was converted by O’Leary Kareem for a 24-7 lead.

Farrell evaded two defenders for another zippy run to the try-line, and he then covered a German kick, countering brilliantly on the turn and setting up Minogue to cover the final 30 metres to the whitewash.

There was still time for a seventh Irish try, with Fahy rising highest to pluck down the restart from Jack Dunne, who stepped inside a defender to go in under the posts after replacement Tom Murtagh had linked up the play.

Spain had always won all of their matches up to the semi-final stage, but Farrell provided the ideal start for Ireland when he flew through a gap on the Spanish 10-metre line, via a Fahy pass, to make it 7-0.

Ireland stayed connected in defence and made Spain work hard for their metres, but Pablo Arago capitalised on some space, to the left of the posts, to square things up in the fourth minute.

Nonetheless, Hurrell’s charges were handed possession back from a miscued Spanish restart and duly retook the lead (14-7). Murphy’s presence drew in two defenders before Fahy’s footwork and injection of pace took him away from two more to score at the posts.

Fahy stood up again early after the restart, producing a big tackle to drive Spain back and then following up with an important tap tackle to halt the progress of Hugo Pichardie along the touchline.

Following a lengthy injury delay before Spain’s Benat Garmendia was taken off, Ireland gave themselves some breathing space on the scoreboard. Farrell was released out wide – Fahy and Orin Burke did well to get the ball to him – and there was no stopping the electric winger.

Burke converted to widen the margin to 14 points, yet it was an attritional finish to the semi-final. O’Leary Kareem was injured in a nasty collision just after he had kicked the ball downfield. A few phases later, replacement Murtagh saw yellow for early tackle.

Only moments past the final hooter, Spain were able to work some numbers on the left and Daniel Escola cut in to score behind the posts for a consolation seven-pointer.

Despite lining out for the final with 10 fit players compared to a full-strength French dozen, Ireland were first to settle. Dunne carried into the French 22 with great determination before Farrell unfortunately knocked on Murphy’s pass out wide.

A handling error prevented France from breaking out of their own territory though, and Farrell scooped up the loose ball and exchanged passes with Dunne before diving over in the right corner past Angui Anassin.

Ireland scrambled hard to prevent a French breakaway try, and Minogue, one of five Munster players in the squad, showed his footballing skills to score in brilliant fashion, drawing big cheers from the travelling support.

He gobbled up a bouncing pass and elected to kick, showing his speed and balance to reach the ball first inside the French 22 and cross the whitewash ahead of Xan Mousques. Burke’s conversion made it 12-0.

Just seconds before half-time, Burke was whistled up for crooked lineout throw that appeared to be straight. It was a crucial call as France broke with great intent and Mousques was able to slip through to pull back seven points.

The momentum was now with les Bleuets, Jeremy Nemor showing his blistering pace to come in on an angled run and dot down under the posts inside a minute of the restart. Yannick Lodjro’s conversion pushed them ahead.

The French offloads were beginning to stick and as they upped the pace again in the ninth minute, Baptiste Sors made it over in the left corner past Te Pou’s challenge.

An unfortunate offside call against Fraser Cunningham, coupled with some subsequent knock-ons, kept Ireland inside their own half. Burly forward Mathys Belaubre put the French out of reach with a power-packed finish near the posts.

Ireland did have one late attack as they looked hit back past the final hooter, but despite Gabriel Blaye’s sin-binning for taking out Zach Allen at the restart, France held firm for a 14-point winning margin.

IRELAND UNDER-18 MEN’S SEVENS Squad (2023 Rugby Europe U-18 Men’s Sevens Championship, National Sports Centre, Macolin, Switzerland, Saturday, July 15-Sunday, July 16):

Connor Fahy (Good Counsel College/Wexford Wanderers RFC/Leinster)
Fraser Cunningham (RBAI/Ulster)
Gene O’Leary Kareem (Presentation Brothers College Cork/Munster) (capt)
Jack Dunne (Belvedere College/Leinster)
Luke Murphy (Ardscoil Rís/Munster)
Matthew Te Pou (St. Munchin’s College/Munster)
Oisin Minogue (St. Munchin’s College/Munster)
Orin Burke (Presentation College Athenry/Monivea RFC/Connacht)
Paidi Farrell (St. Mary’s Secondary School Edenderry/Tullamore RFC/Leinster)
Tim Deering (Skerries Community College/Skerries RFC/Leinster)
Tom Murtagh (Clongowes Wood College/Leinster)
Zach Allen (Bandon RFC/Munster)

IRELAND U-18 MEN’S SEVENS Schedule – Macolin:

Saturday, July 15 –


IRELAND U-18s 31 SWITZERLAND U-18s 19, National Sports Centre, Macolin
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Paidi Farrell 2, Tim Deering 2, Tom Murtagh; Cons: Gene O’Leary Kareem 2, Tom Murtagh
Switzerland: Tries: Leo Duport, Gabriel Fernandez, Cian Dennehy; Cons: James Beresford, Gabriel Fernandez
HT: Ireland 19 Switzerland 7

Team: Tim Deering, Zach Allen, Oisin Minogue, Orin Burke, Gene O’Leary Kareem (capt), Connor Fahy, Paidi Farrell.

Subs used: Matthew Te Pou, Fraser Cunningham, Luke Murphy, Tom Murtagh, Jack Dunne.

IRELAND U-18s 33 GERMANY U-18s 0, National Sports Centre, Macolin
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Connor Fahy, Tim Deering, Matthew Te Pou, Fraser Cunningham, Jack Dunne; Cons: Tom Murtagh 3, Gene O’Leary Kareem
Germany: –
HT: Ireland 12 Germany 0

Team: Tim Deering, Zach Allen, Luke Murphy, Orin Burke, Tom Murtagh, Connor Fahy, Matthew Te Pou.

Subs used: Jack Dunne, Fraser Cunningham, Gene O’Leary Kareem (capt), Oisin Minogue. Not used: Paidi Farrell.

IRELAND U-18s 49 CZECHIA U-18s 0, National Sports Centre, Macolin
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Tim Deering, Oisin Minogue 2, Jack Dunne, Paidi Farrell 2, Tom Murtagh; Cons: Gene O’Leary Kareem 4, Tom Murtagh, Jack Dunne
Czechia: –
HT: Ireland 28 Czechia 0

Team: Oisin Minogue, Fraser Cunningham, Luke Murphy, Jack Dunne, Gene O’Leary Kareem (capt), Tim Deering, Matthew Te Pou.

Subs used: Connor Fahy, Tom Murtagh, Zach Allen, Paidi Farrell, Orin Burke.

Day 1 Round-Up: Ireland U-18 Men Advance As Pool Winners At European Sevens Championship

Sunday, July 16 – 


IRELAND U-18s 43 GERMANY U-18s 7, National Sports Centre, Macolin
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Tim Deering, Luke Murphy 2, Connor Fahy, Paidi Farrell, Oisin Minogue, Jack Dunne; Cons: Gene O’Leary Kareem 4
Germany: Try: Linus Muller; Con: Tristan Link
HT: Ireland 12 Germany 7

Team: Tim Deering, Zach Allen, Luke Murphy, Orin Burke, Gene O’Leary Kareem (capt), Connor Fahy, Matthew Te Pou.

Subs used: Oisin Minogue, Jack Dunne, Paidi Farrell, Tom Murtagh, Fraser Cunningham.


IRELAND U-18s 21 SPAIN U-18s 14, National Sports Centre, Macolin
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Paidi Farrell 2, Connor Fahy; Cons: Gene O’Leary Kareem 2, Orin Burke
Spain: Tries: Pablo Arago, Daniel Escola; Cons: Pablo Arago, Manuel Gutierrez
HT: Ireland 14 Spain 7

Team: Luke Murphy, Zach Allen, Oisin Minogue, Jack Dunne, Gene O’Leary Kareem (capt), Connor Fahy, Paidi Farrell.

Subs used: Orin Burke, Tom Murtagh, Matthew Te Pou. Not used: Fraser Cunningham.


FRANCE U-18s 26 IRELAND U-18s 12, National Sports Centre, Macolin
Scorers: France: Tries: Xan Mousques, Jeremy Nemor, Baptiste Sors, Mathys Belaubre; Cons: Yannick Lodjro 2, Esteban Gonzalez
Ireland: Tries: Paidi Farrell, Oisin Minogue; Con: Orin Burke
HT: France 7 Ireland 12

Team: Oisin Minogue, Zach Allen, Luke Murphy, Orin Burke, Jack Dunne, Connor Fahy, Paidi Farrell.

Subs used: Tom Murtagh, Matthew Te Pou, Fraser Cunningham.