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Ireland U-18 Men Pick Up Bronze At Rugby Europe Sevens Championship

Ireland U-18 Men Pick Up Bronze At Rugby Europe Sevens Championship

Ireland U-18 Men Pick Up Bronze At Rugby Europe Sevens Championship

Captained by Hamish Milhench, the Ireland Under-18 Men's Sevens squad finished as bronze medal winners in Strasbourg ©Travis Prior/Rugby Europe

Converted tries from Johnny O’Sullivan, Eoin Conlon, and Conall Cournane ensured that the Ireland Under-18 Men’s Sevens team finished on the podium at the Rugby Europe U-18 Men’s Sevens Championship.

Kieran Hurrell’s charges had bronze medals to show for their weekend’s work in Strasbourg, where they regrouped from a narrow Cup semi-final defeat to Spain, and ended the tournament on a high by beat Germany 21-14.

Despite limited preparation time together, the Ireland U-18s won four of their six games and showed their resilience to bounce back from their two losses, as well as the setback of losing Jack Deegan to injury for the knockout stages.

Blackrock College’s Johnny O’Sullivan was the team’s top try scorer with four, followed by Laois native Deegan on three, and Iveragh Eagles duo Cournane and Michael O’Sullivan scored two each.

This was a fresh group with no returning players from last year’s silver medal-winning squad. Hamish Milhench, part of a quartet of IQ Rugby players, captained the side as they maintained the IRFU U-18 Sevens pathway’s proud record of Rugby Europe medal wins since 2016 (three golds, three silvers, and a bronze).

Having kept Spain well out of scoring range initially in the semi-final clash, Ireland injected some pace from a penalty with Johnny O’Sullivan chasing down his own kick downfield. Back-to-back penalties then landed Spain’s Mateo Aragon in the sin bin.

Off the resulting tap penalty, Daragh O’Dwyer and Nathan Bottomley set up Michael O’Sullivan to raid over to the left of the posts, handing off a defender on the way. O’Dwyer converted for a 7-0 lead inside the opening three minutes.

Ireland, who unfortunately lost Bottomley to a knock, could not capitalise on a Cournane break, with his pass back inside intercepted by Jorge Garreta. Indeed, Spain built for a strong finish to the first half, using turnover ball from a scrum to send Aragon over from the left wing.

Pablo Arago’s levelling conversion set up a tense second half, which saw Spain have the lion’s share of possession. The key moment came when Pelayo Serrano’s midfield charge broke the defensive line, albeit that Cournane got back to haul him down short.

The Spanish outfit retained possession and swiftly moved it out wide for Fernandez to get the grounding past Ivor Fenton. Ireland’s hopes of hitting back were undone by a last-minute counter-ruck which allowed Spain to see out a hard-fought 12-7 victory.

Ireland then faced Germany for the second time in as many days. Bracken-Smith weaved infield from a penalty to reach halfway, with his offload releasing Johnny O’Sullivan to fend off Haakon Hosea Oeß and outpace two more defenders for an excellent 65-metre run-in.

Topped off by a pinpoint conversion from O’Dwyer, Ireland sought to build on that early seven-pointer but O’Sullivan was crowded out on the right, and then his support was a little too slow during a fifth-minute break.

Germany managed to draw level on the stroke of half-time, using an interception to press past the hooter. Oeß’s switch move opened up the space for Nils Benighaus to dart through and score from 45 metres out.

Following words of encouragement from coaches Hurrell and Michael Hodge, Ireland were fastest out of the blocks on the resumption, using a penalty to attack out to the right.

Influential pair Johnny O’Sullivan and Cournane gained good ground before O’Dwyer floated a skip pass out for Mullingar clubman Conlon to crash over.

O’Dwyer split the posts for a 14-7 scoreline, and as Germany attempted to respond, a pacy breakout was foiled by a Cal Traynor Russell interception. Neither try-line was threatened until the closing stages.

Cournane slashed opened the German defence with a brilliant run from the opposition 10-metre line. He got outside Oeß and then evaded Bela Sindermann’s attempted tap tackle to scamper in under the posts. O’Dwyer’s conversion widened the margin to 14 points.

Germany battled on and gained some late consolation right at the death. A determined Milhench denied Benighaus a few metres out, but Ireland lost the resulting lineout, and Cournane’s high tackle on Max Zahner resulted in the awarding of a penalty try and a yellow card.

IRELAND UNDER-18 MEN’S SEVENS Squad (2024 Rugby Europe U-18 Men’s Sevens Championship, Strasbourg Alsace Rugby, Strasbourg, France, Friday, July 5-Sunday, July 7, 2024):

1. Hamish Milhench (Dulwich College/Harlequins/IQ Rugby) (capt)
2. Ivor Fenton (Kilkenny College/Leinster)
3. Eoin Conlon (CBS Mullingar/Mullingar RFC/Leinster)
4. Conall Cournane (Coláiste na Sceilge/Iveragh Eagles RFC/Munster)
5. Daragh O’Dwyer (Gonzaga College/Leinster)
6. Jack Deegan (Cistercian College Roscrea/Athy RFC/Leinster)
7. Johnny O’Sullivan (Blackrock College/Leinster)
8. Michael O’Sullivan (Blackrock College/Iveragh Eagles RFC/Munster)
9. Cal Traynor Russell (CBC Monkstown/Leinster)
10. Freddie Bracken-Smith (Eton College/Saracens/IQ Rugby)
11. Nathan Bottomley (St. Paul’s School, London/IQ Rugby)
12. Billy Blair (St. Joseph’s College, Sydney/IQ Rugby)
13. Daniel Ryan (St. Michael’s College/Leinster)

IRELAND U-18 MEN’S SEVENS Results – Rugby Europe U-18 Men’s Sevens Championship, Strasbourg, France:

Friday, July 5 –


IRELAND 38 ROMANIA 0, Stade de Hautepierre, Strasbourg
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Johnny O’Sullivan 3, Michael O’Sullivan, Jack Deegan, Nathan Bottomley; Cons: Daragh O’Dwyer, Jack Deegan, Conall Cournane, Nathan Bottomley
Romania: –
HT: Ireland 24 Romania 0

Team: Hamish Milhench (capt), Eoin Conlon, Michael O’Sullivan, Conall Cournane, Daragh O’Dwyer, Jack Deegan, Johnny O’Sullivan.

Replacements used: Nathan Bottomley, Ivor Fenton, Freddie Bracken-Smith, Cal Traynor Russell, Billy Blair.

IRELAND 0 LITHUANIA 24, Stade de Hautepierre, Strasbourg
Scorers: Ireland: –
Lithuania: Tries: Justas Grigalaitis, Alanas Aleksanian, Mindaugas Alekna; Cons: Ignas Keraminas 2
HT: Ireland 0 Lithuania 19

Team: Cal Traynor Russell, Nathan Bottomley, Michael O’Sullivan, Freddie Bracken-Smith, Daragh O’Dwyer, Ivor Fenton, Billy Blair.

Replacements used: Hamish Milhench (capt), Johnny O’Sullivan, Eoin Conlon, Jack Deegan, Conall Cournane.

Day 1 Round-Up: O’Sullivan Hat-Trick The Highlight For Ireland U-18 Men’s Sevens Team

Saturday, July 6 –


IRELAND 26 GERMANY 0, Stade de Hautepierre, Strasbourg
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Conall Cournane, Jack Deegan 2, Freddie Bracken-Smith; Cons: Daragh O’Dwyer 3
Germany: –
HT: Ireland 21 Germany 0

Team: Eoin Conlon, Nathan Bottomley, Hamish Milhench (capt), Conall Cournane, Daragh O’Dwyer, Jack Deegan, Johnny O’Sullivan.

Replacements used: Michael O’Sullivan, Freddie Bracken-Smith, Billy Blair. Not used: Ivor Fenton, Cal Traynor Russell.


IRELAND 19 BELGIUM 7, Stade de Hautepierre, Strasbourg
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Daragh O’Dwyer, Penalty try, Ivor Fenton; Cons: Daragh O’Dwyer, Pen try con
Belgium: Try: Thomas Nelis; Con: Mylo Bouckaert
HT: Ireland 0 Belgium 7

Team: Eoin Conlon, Nathan Bottomley, Hamish Milhench (capt), Conall Cournane, Daragh O’Dwyer, Ivor Fenton, Johnny O’Sullivan.

Replacements used: Freddie Bracken-Smith, Michael O’Sullivan, Cal Traynor Russell. Not used: Billy Blair.

Day 2 Round-Up: Ireland U-18 Men’s Sevens Side Advance To Strasbourg’s Last-Four

Sunday, July 7 –


SPAIN 12 IRELAND 7, Stade de Hautepierre, Strasbourg
Scorers: Spain: Tries: Mateo Aragon, Unai Fernandez; Con: Pablo Arago
Ireland: Try: Michael O’Sullivan; Con: Daragh O’Dwyer
HT: Spain 7 Ireland 7

Team: Cal Traynor Russell, Nathan Bottomley, Michael O’Sullivan, Conall Cournane, Daragh O’Dwyer, Ivor Fenton, Johnny O’Sullivan.

Replacements used: Hamish Milhench (capt), Billy Blair, Eoin Conlon, Freddie Bracken-Smith.


GERMANY 14 IRELAND 21, Stade de Hautepierre, Strasbourg
Scorers: Germany: Tries: Nils Benighaus, Penalty try; Cons: Max Zahner, Pen try con
Ireland: Tries: Johnny O’Sullivan, Eoin Conlon, Conall Cournane; Cons: Daragh O’Dwyer 3
HT: Germany 7 Ireland 7

Team: Hamish Milhench (capt), Ivor Fenton, Eoin Conlon, Freddie Bracken-Smith, Daragh O’Dwyer, Johnny O’Sullivan, Billy Blair.

Replacements used: Cal Traynor Russell, Eoin Cournane, Michael O’Sullivan.