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Ireland Under-19s Strike Back To Beat France

Ireland Under-19s Strike Back To Beat France

It took a wonderfully resurgent second half from the Ireland Under-19s to overcome France in Tuesday’s international at Donnybrook, with out-half Gareth Quinn McDonogh grabbing all the points, including a converted injury-time try.


IRELAND UNDER-19 13 FRANCE UNDER-19 12, Donnybrook

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Scorers: Ireland: Try: Gareth Quinn McDonogh; Con: Gareth Quinn McDonogh; Pens: Gareth Quinn McDonogh 2
France: Tries: Baptiste Gabriel, Jean Pascal Barraque; Con: Jean-Marc Doussain

It must have been the last thing on Ireland coach Allen Clarke’s mind when he reconvened with his players at the break, looking at a 12-0 deficit and a French side in complete control.

Right from the start, French scrum half Yann Lesgourgues sniped for critical yardage in putting Ireland on the back foot.

Out-half and captain Jean-Marc Doussain preferred the corner flag to the goalposts, confident that a lineout maul would bring a try from his gigantic forwards.

It did not work the first time, but they came again for blindside flanker Baptiste Gabriel to ground the ball with ease from the same move in the seventh minute. Doussain hit the upright from the touchline conversion.

It was clear that Ireland would have to keep the ball away from areas such as the scrum, the maul and the fringes of the ruck if they were not going to meet the French with every ounce of energy.

A sky-high garryowen from out-half Gareth Quinn McDonogh caused a crack in the French defence when full-back Luc Sirven failed to catch the dropping ball.

A surge off the back of a scrum from number 8 Eoin McKeon put Ireland in prime position. However, Quinn McDonogh was intercepted by full-back Sirven no more than ten metres from his own line. It looked a certain try until centre Corey Hircock and, impressively, hooker David Doyle got back to save the day.

Soon, Lesgourgues was free-wheeling around the outside of Ireland’s defence for centre Jean Pascal Barraque to cross for the visitors’ second try in the 26th minute. This time, out-half Doussain converted from the right for a 12-0 lead. It was no more or less than they deserved.

The Irish could not make enough yards through their main driving forwards, captain Jordi Murphy and McKeon, to occupy the fringe defence.

There was little or no cohesion in their back play which was unsurprising, given that they had not played together before.

On the resumption, Ireland looked to move the ball into the space where lock Simon Hanbidge showed his speed for twenty metres.

When he tried to find Craig Gilroy, the ball was knocked down by left winger Pierre Berard for a penalty which Quinn McDonogh kicked in the 36th minute.

As Irish confidence grew, replacement Alex Kelly shot through the middle like a bullet from a gun. Prop James Tracy was there in support.

The fast recycle forced French centre Marvin O’Connor into a split-second decision to save a try. He shot out of the line to envelop Quinn McDonagh. This was better, much better from Ireland.

The increased tempo was suiting Ireland as they whipped the ball into the midfield for backs and forwards to steam onto the ball. Locks Hanbidge and David O’Mahony carried hard to draw another penalty, dispatched by Quinn McDonogh in the 50th minute to halve the deficit.

Sensing a revolt, France lifted the siege to return to their fluid style of play, aided considerably by the physicality of replacement Gilian Galan.

There was give and take from both sides and the next score would be crucial.

The Irish were showing the sort of adventure and ambition that was absent in the first half, O’Mahony spilling the ball on the end of a sweeping movement.

It was hectic stuff. Ireland were carrying the fight in a constructive, varied manner that suggested the French had been together for some time, such was their organisation in defence.

Still, Quinn McDonogh’s show-and-go undid the French side’s good work, with the Shannon clubman managed to slide over on the right for a last-gasp try.

It would all come down to the conversion. He struck his kick nervelessly to give Ireland a 13-12 lead in the second minute of injury-time.

France still had time to engineer what looked like a miracle drop goal from their skipper Doussain. He was inches short from 45 metres and the hosts could celebrate.

Ireland had come back from the dead for a win that was just about deserved, given their second half showing.

IRELAND U-19: Luke Marshall (Ballymena); Craig Gilroy (Dungannon), Corey Hircock (Bedford Blues/Exiles), Nat McDonald (Worcester/Exiles), Andrew Boyle (UCD); Gareth Quinn McDonogh (Shannon), Peter Du Toit (UCD); James Tracy (Newbridge College), David Doyle (UCD), Martin Moore (Lansdowne), Simon Hanbidge (CBC Cork), David O’Mahony (PBC Cork), Stephen Leckey (Glasgow Hawks/Exiles), Jordi Murphy (Blackrock College RFC) (capt), Eoin McKeon (Galwegians/NUIG).

Replacements used: Alex Kelly (St. Michael’s College) for McDonald (half-time), Dominic Gallagher (Dublin University) for Leckey (45 mins), Mark Dolan (Corinthians/NUIG) for Du Toit (53), Kevin O’Byrne (UCC) for Doyle, Louis Padian (Moseley/Exiles) for Tracy, Paul Mullen (The King’s Hospital) for Moore, Conor McDermott (Dublin University) for O’Mahony, Michael McAuley (Royal Belfast Academical Institution) for Marshall (all 63).

FRANCE U-19: Luc Sirven (Toulouse); Jean-Marcellin Buttin (Clermont Auvergne), Marvin O’Connor (Grenoble), Jean Pascal Barraque (Biarritz Olympique), Pierre Berard (Montpellier); Jean-Marc Doussain (Toulouse) (capt), Yann Lesgourgues (Biarritz Olympique); Mohamed Boughanmi (Stade Francais), Romain Colliat (Lyon), Walter Desmaison (Begles Bordeaux), Sebastien Vahaamahina (Brive), Mathias Marie (Begles Bordeaux), Baptiste Gabriel (Bourgoin), Julien Come (Massy), Kevin Gimeno (Beziers).

Replacements used: Cherif Slimani (Stade Francais) for Boughanmi (31 mins), William Demotte (Clermont Auvergne) for Vahaamahina (half-time), Gilian Galan (Toulouse) for Gimeno (51), Anthony Ortega (Biarritz Olympique) for Berard (58), Steeve Barry (Stade Rochelais) for Buttin (59).

Referee: Dudley Phillips (IRFU)