Coolmine RFC was bathed in sunshine as the Ireland Under-18 Schools team, sponsored by PwC, ran out impressive winners over their Scottish counterparts on Sunday. The friendly international was part of both sides’ build-up for the upcoming FIRA/AER Under-18 European Championship in Spain.
Terry McMaster's Ireland side made early inroads with winger Gregory O'Shea opening the scoring with a seventh minute try.
O'Shea caught out the Scottish defence with a chip and chase effort which he finished off superbly, and out-half Conor McKeon added a fine conversion.
With their confidence up and their set piece game particularly solid, Ireland pressed on and a 12th minute penalty from McKeon took them into double figures.
With captain Daniel Leavy and the Irish forwards winning a number of turnovers, Scotland had to defend for most of the first half and they could not keep out centre Rory O'Loughlin who darted through a gap for the hosts' second try on the half hour mark.
But McMaster's charges leaked an unconverted try just before the break, with winger Ed Farquharson breaking through to leave it 18-5 at the turnaround.
The Irish suffered a further setback when try scorer O'Loughlin was sin-binned for a deliberate knock on and the hosts had to soak up some pressure as Scotland tried to close the gap.
But the home defence held firm, and shortly afterwards a penalty try was awarded to Ireland when the final Scottish defender deliberately knocked the ball forward as O'Shea and company looked to score out wide.
McKeon added the extras to complete his 10-point tally and with the result within Ireland's grasp at 25-5 in front, a number of replacements came on to get some valuable game-time.
Leavy was called ashore after an excellent shift, while his back row colleague Jack O'Neill was another player to impress alongside Terenure College duo William Dardis and Harrison Brewer who both stood out in the backs-line.
Scotland managed to hit back in injury-time, giving the final scoreboard a more balanced look as Farquharson was sent over after a quick tap penalty.
McMaster and the Irish management have plenty to take from the first international of the year, which will give the Ireland youngsters some welcome momentum heading into their Championship campaign.
They are hoping to defend the title won by last year's Luke McGrath-led Ireland Schools side. Having been drawn in the Elite group, they will face Portugal in their opening game at Ciudad Universitaria in Madrid this coming Friday (12.15pm local time/11.15am Irish time).
Referee: Nigel Correll (IRFU)