Jump to main content



Battling Display From Irish Development Side

Battling Display From Irish Development Side

The sheer weight, size and power of the English Under-19 Academies proved decisive as they defeated the Ireland Under-19/Under-20 Development side 31-13 in an uncapped international at Anglesea Road.

This was a plum opportunity for any number of Irish players to launch a serious bid for inclusion in the Ireland squad for the Under-20 Six Nations, both this year and next year's Championships.

Lining up against them at Old Belvedere RFC was a very strong English outfit boasting many of the players that were part of their Under-18 Five Nations clean sweep in Wales last Easter.

Google Ad Manager – 300×250 – In Article

Chief among these was their talented out-half George Ford, the son of former Ireland defence coach Mike, who was nominated for the Young Sports People of the year Awards across the water this year.

From the outset, Ireland captain Conor Gilsenan made his intentions clear by blitzing England winger Curtis Wilson in the sort of tackle to get the adrenalin flowing in the rest of his team-mates.

The Irish backs were eager to spread the play, with out-half Cathal Marsh and inside centre JJ Hanrahan renowned for their playmaking abilities.

England threatened first by way of a loose tap back from an Irish defensive lineout, Marsh pouncing on the ground to save the day.

Quickly, Hanrahan kicked on from a loose ball and Peter Nelson was close to nicking a try in the follow up.

Openside flanker Aaron Conneely split the English midfield in an impressive burst before the visitors knifed in from the side at a ruck. Marsh was short from the resulting 39-metre penalty.

He quickly made up for that by shooting down the blindside to beat three chasers from 35 metres out to give Ireland a 5-0 lead in the 16th minute.

The response from England was immediate. They committed few to the ruck and many to the wide channels for their openside Chris Walker to plunge over for a try. Ford added the conversion at the end of the first quarter.

Straight away, England were almost in again when full-back Michael Sherlock could not deal with a grubber on the heavy pitch – only for full-back Ben Ransom to lose the ball forward in the act of gathering it.

Ireland centre Nelson had to be vigilant to prevent further damage when he rescued the ball close to home for the concession of a five-metre scrum. It delayed the most likely outcome.

Scrum half Dan Robson went quickly from a tap and number 8 Will Skuse forced his way to the line to make it 12-5 in the 33rd minute.

Ireland got what they wanted on resumption. Hanrahan took over the kicking responsibilities to strike a penalty from straight in front of the posts. Ford could have done the same, but opted for a scrum that came to nothing as the hosts, coached by Colin McEntee and Jonny Bell, defended surely.

Given the same situation in the 57th minute, Ford went for the quick tap. The ball was flashed left for Walker to pinch his second try. Ford's extras made it 19-8.

The Irish were tiring visibly against the huge English forwards on the heavy pitch. Still, they stuck to their task until centre Elliot Daly whipped around the outside for his side's fourth try just past the hour.

Left winger Charlie Walker stepped off his left foot to add salt to Irish wounds, centre Daly kicking the conversion in the 68th minute.

The Irish were plucky to the death, with the impressive Conneely charging over on the right for a consolation try as a tangible reward for their genuine challenge.

Referee: Paul Haycock (IRFU)